Natural things are not necessarily safe. Some dietary supplements mixed with certain medication or other herbal supplements can cause potentially dangerous health risks and serious side effects.
Combining Potentially Dangerous Supplements
When a substance is set in supplement form, it becomes highly concentrated. Some supplement combinations may cause serious health risks and outcomes.
Be cautious of the following supplement combinations:
- Vitamin D – Vitamin D might decrease the effectiveness of Lipitor – the cholesterol-lowering drug atorvastatin. Additionally, vitamin D can interfere with some high blood pressure medications. Taking high doses of vitamin D — along with a diuretic medication — may result in too much calcium in the body. Too much calcium in the human body can cause kidney problems.
- Calcium – Calcium potentially interferes with many medications. Calcium may obstruct the healing and health maintenance properties of certain blood pressure medications, prescription osteoporosis drugs known as bisphosphonates (alendronate), levothyroxine, which treats hypothyroidism, and antibiotics in the quinolone and tetracycline families, such as Cipro.
- Zinc – Zinc supplements could make it more difficult for your body to absorb both — the zinc and antibiotics that contain tetracycline or quinolone. In addition, zinc supplements get in the way of penicillamine medication. Penicillamine drugs help in treating rheumatoid arthritis.
- St. John’s wort – Taking St. John’s wort with antidepressants may lead to too-high levels of serotonin in your body. Too much serotonin can result in serious side effects — including muscle seizures and rigidity. St. John’s wort potentially makes other medicines less effective — medication like birth control pills, blood thinners, such as Warfarin, and some HIV drugs. It may also interact with common migraine medications like zolmitriptan and sumatriptan.
- Melatonin – Melatonin may make you drowsy. Taking melatonin with sedative drugs like some antidepressants, benzodiazepines, and narcotics, may cause too much sleepiness. Melatonin may also slow blood clotting. Therefore, taking melatonin with anticoagulant medications, like warfarin (Coumadin) or heparin, may increase the chances of bruising and bleeding. You may want to consider avoiding melatonin if you’re taking medication to control blood pressure, because it may raise your blood pressure.
- Echinacea – Echinacea has the ability to stimulate the immune system. It may interfere with drugs that decrease the immune system, such as the steroid prednisone.
- Fish oil – Taking fish oil with blood pressure-lowering drugs can increase the effects of these drugs and may lower your blood pressure too much. Be careful if you’re taking fish oil along with other medications that can increase risk of bleeding — such as naproxen, ibuprofen, or aspirin. Taking high doses of fish oil with herbs that slow blood clotting — including Ginkgo bilboa — may cause bleeding.
One of the major concerns with supplements and herbs is that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate them. In fact, there’s no guarantee of the safety, purity, or strength of supplements. In addition, the effects may vary from one individual to another.
While dietary supplements have known health benefits, ideally, people should attempt to get proper nutrition through real food.
Always read product labels. And if you have a medical condition, or are taking other herbs, supplements, or drugs, you should talk with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. If you experience side effects, consult a healthcare provider immediately.