Reuters Health Information (2005-04-13): Herbal remedies put arthritis patients at risk of harmful interactions
Herbal remedies put arthritis patients at risk of harmful interactions
Last Updated: 2005-04-13 19:01:04 -0400 (Reuters Health)
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Patients with arthritis are
more likely than the general population to be using herbal remedies,
which increases the risk of serious interactions with prescribed
medications, results of a British study suggest.
Echinacea, gingko biloba, devil's claw, ginger and garlic are the
most dangerous, Dr. Wendy Holden told Reuters Health. Echinacea poses a
risk of hepatotoxicity when used with disease modifying antirheumatic
drugs. The others could aggravate gastrointestinal bleeding risks when
taken along with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or steroids.
To examine the extent of the problem, Dr. Holden, at Nuffield
Orthopaedic Centre in Oxford, and colleagues sent anonymous
questionnaires to 238 rheumatology outpatients.
A total of 105 subjects (44%) had used herbal or over-the-counter
remedies in the previous 6 months, the authors report in the May issue
of the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.
"This is much higher than the general population," Dr. Holden told
Reuters Health. "These patients have a condition that will last for
life, and they're keen to seek alternatives rather than conventional
Twenty-six subjects (11%) were taking remedies that put them at risk
for serious interactions with conventional drugs. Their responses
showed that 24 were unaware of the risk, although 10 of them had sought
advice from a health professional before starting.
"Physicians have to be super cautious to make sure they ask what
medications the patients are taking," Dr. Holden advised. "And patients
should be asking their doctors if they're already on herbal remedies if
they're safe to take with arthritis drugs."
Ann Rheum Dis 2005;64:790.