MAR 01, 2016 6:12 AM PST

How Supplements Can Sabotage Your Medications


The Council for Responsible Nutrition reported that nearly 70% of American adults take some form of supplements. Not regulated by the FDA, these dietary over-the-counter (OTC) supplements can be taken to boost nutrients that a person may not be getting enough. In addition, herbal supplements are also taken to regulate some metabolic activities, such as sleep cycle and appetite.

While so many people take supplements, not many disclose this information to their doctors, possibly due to the false assumption that OTC supplements are too harmless to mention. But what many don't know is that certain supplements can interfere with prescription medications.

In general, herbal supplements are more likely to have interactions with drugs than vitamins and minerals. In published studies, the five most likely supplements to cause drug interactions are St. John's wart, gingko, kava, digitalis, and willow. St. John's wart is particularly notorious for interfering with anti-retroviral medications and even birth control. Watch the video to learn more about the "red flag" supplements that you should definitely discuss with your health provider.
About the Author
Doctorate (PhD)
I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at
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