Herb Vitamin Interactions
Answered by: Susan Eagles
Question from: Dan
Posted on: April 29, 2003

We have questions on some interactions of by taking some vitamins and herbs together. Presently I am taking acidophilus, saw palmetto, golden seal, calcium, magnesium, zinc and vitamin C and a multi-vitamin, you get the drift. However, my concern is can these substances interact unfavorably?

When trying to understand how herbs may interact, look at the actions of each to determine whether the actions will cancel each other out (opposite actions) or will add to the effect. For example, saw palmetto is an endocrine (hormonal) stimulant, diuretic and sedative; goldenseal is antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial only to the surfaces it touches (i.e. it is not a general system antibiotic) and a diuretic. So with these two herbs, you will have an additive diuretic effect - not a good thing for long term. You should make sure you drink lots of water when taking diuretics to supply your body fluids with the liquid they need.

Goldenseal is an endangered herb, so is not recommended. In most cases, people take goldenseal for the wrong reasons. Goldenseal also has side effects: it is very drying to the mucous membranes, so it will damage mucous membranes that are already dry. Try to find another herb that has the actions that you want. Plantain (Plantago major or P. lanceolata) is a common herb that can often be substituted for goldenseal.

Calcium is not well absorbed without sufficient magnesium, vitamin D and many other minerals. When the excess calcium is excreted, it can cause health problems like kidney stones. Ask at a health food store for a good brand that combines the minerals and vitamins necessary for calcium absorption.

Your other supplements shouldn’t cause a problem, but in taking vitamins and minerals, you must realize that they always try to keep in balance within the body, so that taking an excess of one will often put others out of balance. Try to get your vitamins and minerals from natural sources. Nature combines her ingredients in perfect balance.

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