Herb-drug, food-drug, nutrient-drug, and drug-drug interactions: mechanisms involved and their medical implications

J Altern Complement Med. 2002 Jun;8(3):293-308. doi: 10.1089/10755530260127989.


Adverse drug reactions (ADRs) and iatrogenic diseases have been identified as significant factors responsible for patient morbidity and mortality. Significant studies on drug metabolism in humans have been published during the last few years, offering a deeper comprehension of the mechanisms underlying adverse drug reactions and interactions. More understanding of these mechanisms, and of recent advances in laboratory technology, can help to evaluate potential drug interactions when drugs are prescribed concurrently. Increasing knowledge of interindividual variation in drug breakdown capacity and recent findings concerning the influence of environment, diet, nutrients, and herbal products can be used to reduce ADRs and iatrogenic diseases. Reviewed data suggest that drug treatment should be increasingly custom tailored to suit the individual patient and that appropriately co-prescribed diet and herbal remedies, could increase drug efficacy and lessen drug toxicity. This review focuses mainly on recently published research material. The cytochrome p450 enzymes, their role in metabolism, and their mechanisms of action are reviewed, and their role in drug-drug interactions are discussed. Drug-food and drug-herb interactions have garnered attention. Interdisciplinary communication among medical herbalists, medical doctors, and dietetic experts needs to be improved and encouraged. Internet resources for obtaining current information regarding drug-drug, drug-herb, and drug-nutrient interactions are provided.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adverse Drug Reaction Reporting Systems
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / drug effects
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / metabolism*
  • Drug Interactions*
  • Food-Drug Interactions
  • Humans
  • Iatrogenic Disease*
  • Internet
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Plant Preparations / adverse effects*


  • Plant Preparations
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System