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A guide for herb-drug interactions 

  • Dr. Amparo Aracil
    Dr. Amparo Aracil

    Amparo is a medical herbalist and doctor interested in community herbalism and acute medicine. Amparo combines their work as a herbalist with working as a doctor, previously for the NHS and now in both primary care and A&E in Spain. Amparo has also worked with Herbalists Without Borders Calais providing first aid and herbal medicine to migrants and refugees. Having a special interest in psychoneuroimmunology and auto-immune conditions, they have extensive clinical experience helping people with ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis and thyroid disorders.

    Amparo has been involved with writing lectures and teaching clinical skills for Heartwood students, and runs student clinics on a monthly basis.

    Amparo is a registered member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists and the General Medical Council. You can find more about them at their website.

  • 12:43 reading time (ish)
  • Safety
A guide for herb-drug interactions

As the use of herbal medicine continues to rise, cultivating an awareness of potential interactions between pharmaceuticals and herbs has become more important than ever, in order to inform doctors and healthcare professionals in their practice (1). Similarly, it is important for herbalists to understand the subtleties of herb-drug interactions, as often a herb and a pharmaceutical drug will interact but that does not translate into an immediate contraindication.

Herbalists and doctors who are able to distinguish between pharmacokinetic (how the body affects a substance) and pharmacodynamic (how a substance affects the body) interactions will be able to make better clinical judgement on the concomitant use of a herb with a drug. They can discern whether to adjust the dosage of the herb or drug or stop the use of either completely  (2). 

A thorough assessment of the patient history, and open communication with the patient, are essential. During patient consultations, herbal medicine and supplement use are an important part of their drug history to discuss. Patients may fear that their doctor will disapprove of their use of non-allopathic medicine, so by enquiring in a non-judgemental manner, the practitioner can ease patients’ reluctance to share with their doctors what herbs they are taking  (3).

Often patients themselves are unaware of the potential risks and benefits there are when taking herbs and drugs concomitantly, so educating them and encouraging them to disclose the herbal medicines and supplements they are taking is important for patient and practitioner. Herbalists and doctors alike have a responsibility to provide information on potential interactions and refer to herb-drug interaction checkers for guidance (3). 

Dr. Amparo Aracil

Amparo is a medical herbalist and doctor interested in community herbalism and acute medicine. Amparo combines their work as a herbalist with working as a doctor, previously for the NHS and now in... Read more

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