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Notes of Interest

Herbs / Foods

Good nutrition should be your first choice. "If a disease can not be cured with food, it can not be cured." - an old Chinese saying. Eat foods that your grandparents would recognize, simple and whole; organic if possible, - and variety! As your acupuncturist, I can guide you in food selections that will help support energetic balance in your body. Sometimes our bodies get extremely depleted or out of balance and then we may turn to tried and true traditional herbal formulas to bring the patient back into balance.

According to a survey published in the November 11, 1998 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, at least 15 million Americans take dietary supplements along with prescription drugs. More significantly, the findings have also jump-started new research on the interactions between supplements and prescription drugs -- an area that until now has received little scrutiny.

There are scarcely few drug / herb interactions. There are far more drug / drug interactions. Some simple guidelines for using medications with herbal formulas and they are as follows:

Basic Guidelines for Drug Herb Interactions: 2/09

  • Take drugs and herbs 2 hours apart to prevent interactions.
  • If you are taking an MAO inhibitor, do not explore herbal therapy.
  • If you are taking Coumadine, or Warfrin, know that it's effectiveness is reduced with many food items including green tea. We have yet to explore what effect diet soft drinks have on these pharmaceuticals.
  • St Johns Wort* is known to reduce the effectiveness of other medications, including possibly , birth control pills. In the Middle Ages, St. Johns Wort was used to prevent poisoning and toxicity. This relates to current use today, in formula to assist people in withdrawing from drug addictions.
  • St, Johns Wort may reduce the effectiveness of birth control pills. However, this has not been demonstrated. If you are on birth control pills, check with your herbalist to make an herbal substitution.
  • There is currently no data verifying that blood movers such as turmeric, garlic, salvia (dan shen), and the like, interact to magnify the effects of a blood thinner. It may be that their mechanisms are dissimilar enough. Their interaction is a theoretical one only, and not demonstrated.
  • The constituents of traditional herbal formulas are complex and this complexity lends a safety factors. Ingesting single herbs is not the same as ingesting an herbal formula. Ingesting random herbs without obtaining a proper TCM diagnosis is not recommended.
  • If you have been advised by your M.D., to avoid fresh fruits and vegetables, it may be best to not explore herbal therapy.

Note: Herbal therapies may be best left for supporting one's health following cancer treatment. Closely following the doctor's prescription for eradicating the cancer is the best plan. The doctors, nurses at the Cancer Center have a plan for your recovery and are invested in this process. It is not wise to do anything that might compromise the results. Saying this, there are complementary therapies that clearly will not interfere with CA treatment. Acupuncture, therapeutic touch, yoga , qi gong, exercise, good nutrition, finding reasons to love more and engage in life, getting sleep! - all clearly contribute to your health and sense of well being resulting in better responses to CA treatment.

There are a few traditional herbal formulas being researched in several US medical institutions. All are manufactured in the US for their quality. These herbs have a long history in proving their usefulness in building one's qi and blood, in TCM terms. They are safe and there have been no negative consequence to an herb / drug interaction.

In Japan, some herbs are used intentionally to enhance the effectiveness of certain drugs.
It is useful for patients to know the dynamics of drug herb interactions, that one might enhance or negate the usefulness of the other. An herb drug interaction to date, - as long as drugs have been around- has not resulted in spontaneous combustion, or any kind of scary event. St. Johns Wort is known to lessen the effects of other medication, so the patient is not getting their full prescribed dose. This certainly can be a serious matter. Ingesting grapefruit juice with a medication may make more of the drug available to the body. No one has looked at marketing the usefulness of grapefruit juice to reduce the cost of medication!

Theoretical interactions are too often taken as verified. Read a study thoroughly and know that knowledge changes. Numerous accusations about the dangers of herbs have been later attributed to other causes, after further scrutiny.




Integrative Oriental Medicine - Herbal - Acupuncture - Energy Medicine - Nutrition

  Integrative Oriental Medicine
(585) 243-1774
P.O. Box 353 • Geneseo, NY 14454

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