Magazine article Consumers' Research Magazine

You Asked for It

Magazine article Consumers' Research Magazine

You Asked for It

Article excerpt

Q. Are any studies being done about possible interactions of herbal supplements and prescription drugs?

A. This problem is worrisome because some patients who are taking prescription drugs, also, on their own, add herbal supplements without informing their doctor. More doctors have begun to ask patients to list their intake of all drugs, both prescription and self-chosen ones.

Unanticipated interactions have already been reported concerning a popular herbal supplement and prescribed drugs. St. John's Wort was found to have a "significant drug interaction" with the prescription drug indinavir--a protease inhibitor used to treat HIV infections. The herbal remedy caused a large reduction in the plasma concentration of the drug, which could lead to antiretroviral resistance and treatment failure.

In another instance, St. John's Wort was found to have a metabolic interaction with cyclosporine, a drug used with heart transplantation. A report cited two patients who suffered acute rejections of the organ resulting from interaction of the herbal supplement with the drug.

Q. I read that dietary fiber may be redefined. What will be different?

A. The proposed new American definition would include some dietary components that currently are not part of the definition. Two additions would be polyfructans and oligosaccharides. Both have already been accepted as dietary fibers on food product labels in many other countries, including Finland, Sweden, Norway, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands, Portugal, Switzerland, and South Africa. …

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