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Expert Opin Drug Saf. 2005 Mar;4(2):355-78.

Interactions between herbal and conventional medicines.

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The School of Pharmacy, University of Reading, PO Box 228, Whiteknights, Reading, Berkshire, RG6 6AJ, UK.


Herb-drug interactions are subject to much interest at present, but for various reasons reports may be unreliable or unsubstantiated. Herbal medicines are variable in composition and quality, which may affect their interaction profile as well as the reliability of reports concerning them. In this review, clinical and experimental reports have been collated, evaluated and summarised, and the theoretical and clinical evidence presented. There is an explanation of the particular issues involved with herbal medicines as compared with conventional drugs, and reasons why comparisons may or may not be valid, which is intended for those without specialist experience in herbal products. It has become apparent that only a few herbal drugs have so far been cited in interaction reports, for example St John's Wort, Ginkgo biloba, Dan Shen, liquorice, Ma huang and garlic, and that the main drugs involved are those which are already susceptible to interactions with many other conventional drugs, such as warfarin, protease inhibitors and anti-cancer drugs. An attempt has been made to put the matter into perspective and recommendations have been given for health professionals to advise or develop strategies to safeguard patients, without resorting to speculation or scaremongering.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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