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Senior Health: Drug Interactions

By , 9:28 pm on

Wouldn’t you think twice about buying life saving prescription medications and then flushing them down the toilet? If you are ingesting supplements without your doctor’s approval, possible interactions with medications could mean you are destroying the power of the medicine or worse, further endangering your health.  Personally, when I looked into this topic, I was pretty skeptical about the power of over-the-counter supplements.  My mother had always been a believer in supplements, but I had never given them much credit as effective remedies. I thought the medicine would win in a fight between the two. Unfortunately, supplements can wreck havoc with your health or if you’re a caregiver, your senior’s, when taken with certain prescription medicines, according to an AARP article in “When Supplements Become Dangerous,” by Peter Jaret.  Here are a few key examples:

Aloe Vera

When used topically it is great for your skin. When ingested as part of a laxative aid, it may interact with blood-sugar lowering meds used to treat diabetes.

Licorice Root

(or licorice candy!):  Used for ulcers, bronchitis and sore throats.  Can cause high blood pressure and salt and water retention, raising the risk for heart problems and preventing proper action if meds are used to reduce edema.

St. John’s Wort

Touted as a natural antidepressant, it can reduce the effectiveness of a variety of meds, including anticoagulants and antidepressants.  The worst news is it can reduce the effectiveness of cancer drugs by as much as 40%.

After reading Mr. Jaret’s article, I called my Mom with the information and made certain she knew the importance of understanding exactly what she was taking. Even if you or the older adults in your life have to use a wheelbarrow for all the prescription medicines, supplements, mysterious Chinese roots, and miracle cures to the doctor’s office, take them all so the doctor or his staff can review them and advise you what to keep and what to eliminate based on any prescribed medication regimen.  A life could depend on it.

See also this post on food and drug interactions as it focuses on a slightly different angle. http://homecareassistanceomaha.com/blog/?p=49