Can Milk Thistle and Cascara be Taken with Zocor (Statin) Drug?
Answered by: Susan Eagles
Question from: Name not given
Posted on: January 02, 2005

I’m currently using zocor 40 mg. I also use cascara and milk thistle. Will I have a reaction using these herbs and medication?

Herbs can generally be safely taken with drugs. There is a potential contraindication when you are taking a herb that has the same or opposite effect as your drug.

Cascara is a laxative which tones the muscles of the digestive system to encourage a bowel movement. Milk thistle supports the liver and gall bladder. Zocor, a statin drug used to lower cholesterol, has a long list of drugs that should be avoided. The list focuses on drugs that are blood thinning, affect the immune system or the heart. The list does not include drugs with the actions of cascara or milk thistle. Because constipation is a side effect of zocor, the herbal laxative may be required for a short time. It is best not to become dependent on laxative herbs or drugs, rather try to use your diet to encourage natural bowel movements.

Recently, it has been found that some herbs use the same liver enzyme for metabolization as certain drugs, producing the effect of lengthening or shortening the length of time that the drug is in the blood stream. There is recent research showing that milk thistle reduces the liver enzyme that metabolizes many drugs, including zocor. This means that zocor remains in the system for longer than expected, with the effect of increasing the amount of the drug in your system. If this research is verified, then the doctors will specify that milk thistle should not be taken with these drugs -- unless they can determine a reliable lower dose of the drug to compensate for the fact that it is not excreted as quickly as now expected.

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