Some people take herbal
remedies, vitamins or other supplements which have not been
prescribed by their doctor. Although you may find these products
helpful, you should not consider them as substitutes for prescribed
Herbal remedies, vitamins or other
supplements can change the way your prescribed drugs work.
For example, recent research studies have
shown that St John’s Wort, a popular herbal
anti-depressant remedy, can affect the breakdown of certain drugs
in the liver and therefore alter their effectiveness. The drugs
that have been found to be affected by St John’s Wort include
theophylline, anticonvulsants and
some antidepressants. You should always check with
your doctor before you take any supplements.
Many more of these products are unlicensed and
virtually none have undergone clinical trials to establish whether
they are safe or effective. Many of the products are not
standardised, which means that the concentration of ingredients can
vary between manufacturers, so you may be taking too much. This
could cause potential health risks.
Find out more about
non-pharmaceutical medicines and supplements, including how to
safely buy them.