Many Seniors at Risk For Supplement-Drug Interactions

Millions of seniors that take herbal supplements in addition to prescription drugs may be at risk for potentially serious supplement-drug interactions.

Researchers in the UK polled older adults 65 and older, finding that about one-third of them take at least one supplement in addition to their regular medications. Based on an evaluation of those supplements and drugs, researchers say that one-third of that group are at risk for potentially serious adverse events, they reported in the British Journal of General Practice.

Some of the adverse events are a risk of bleeding, an increase in blood sugar concentration and reducing the effectiveness of the medication an individual is taking.

Researchers identified three supplement-drug combinations they say pose a “significant” hazard: calcium and the underactive thyroid drug levothyroxine; peppermint and Prevacid (lansoprazole), which is used for acid reflux; and St. John’s wort and amlodipine, a blood pressure-lowering medication. In the first combination, the efficacy of levothyroxine can be reduced by calcium. Antacids like Prevacid can eat away at protective coatings on peppermint oil pills, potentially leading to nausea and heartburn. And St. John’s wort can reduce the levels of amlodipine in the blood.

Other potentially serious combinations include fish oil pills and bisoprolol, a beta blocker, as well as glucosamine, a supplement used for arthritis relief, and the diabetes drug metformin. The first combination can lead to a potentially unsafe lowering of blood pressure, while the second can increase blood sugar.

The study authors conclude that doctors should ask senior patients about supplement use to potentially avoid interactions with medications.


Jonathan Block

Jonathan Block

Jonathan Block is an associate editor at BioCentury, which provides news and information about the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. Prior to joining BioCentury in 2019, Jonathan worked for MedShadow as content editor. He has been an editor and writer for multiple pharmaceutical, health and medical publications, including The Pink Sheet, Modern Healthcare, Health Plan Week and Psychiatry Advisor. He holds a BA from Tufts University and is earning an MPH with a focus on health policy from the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy.


Did you find this article helpful?


Latest News

Belviq, ActiPatch, Free Samples, Dollar Tree Drugs

Belviq, ActiPatch, Free Samples, Dollar Tree Drugs

We knew it was too good to be true – free and cheap drugs aren’t worth it. Also, taking a magic pill to lose weight could give you cancer (!). One ray of sunshine: a pain therapy device using shortwave is now available over-the-counter. Have a lovely Valentine’s Day! Be…

Flouride, PPIs, Breast Density and Prostate Cancer

Flouride, PPIs, Breast Density and Prostate Cancer

Startling news about fluoride, a study encourages more limites use of PPIs, does knowing the density of your breasts matter, and vegetables aren’t helpful in warding off prostate cancer (darn).  Be Well.  Fluoride and Pregnancy The medical community was shocked at the conclusions of two new studies on fluoride’s effect…

  • Advertisement