Herbal-drug therapy interactions: a focus on dementia

Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2001 Jan;4(1):29-34. doi: 10.1097/00075197-200101000-00006.


Older people with dementia are often prescribed numerous medications. Use of herbal therapies in addition to these conventional drug therapies may lead to interactions that result in an adverse drug event. We have conducted a systematic review to identify all studies that examined interactions between herbal and conventional drug therapies (i.e. prescription or over-the-counter). Using a MEDLINE search of English-language studies published between 1980 and 2000, we limited our search to those herbal therapies most likely to be used for the treatment of dementia (memory loss and decreased concentration) and related symptoms. We identified 28 articles that describe interactions between these herbal (i.e. St. John's wort, ginkgo biloba, kava, valerian, and ginseng) and conventional drug therapies. Of these articles, 11 examined St. John's wort, four examined ginkgo biloba, five examined kava, one examined valerian, and seven examined ginseng. We identified a series of potential interactions between herbal and conventional drug therapy that place older people at risk for an adverse drug event. Health care professionals need to be aware of these potential interactions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Dementia / therapy*
  • Drug Interactions*
  • Ginkgo biloba / adverse effects
  • Herb-Drug Interactions
  • Humans
  • Hypericum / adverse effects
  • Kava / adverse effects
  • Panax / adverse effects
  • Plants, Medicinal / adverse effects*
  • Valerian / adverse effects