Natural health product-drug interactions: a systematic review of clinical trials

Ther Drug Monit. 2005 Oct;27(5):549-57. doi: 10.1097/01.ftd.0000170880.95267.90.


Interactions between natural health products (NHP) and prescription medications are of increasing concern. This paper aims to identify all clinical trials of NHP-drug interactions. To determine the prevalence and outcomes of clinical investigations of NHP-drug pharmacokinetic interactions, electronic databases were searched from inception through March 2004, as well as reference lists from published reports and experts in the field for unpublished studies. Eligible studies were clinical investigations of the interaction between a NHP and the metabolism of a regulated medication in humans. Studies were excluded that only investigated the metabolism of an NHP or examined food-drug or NHP-NHP interactions. Two reviewers selected studies for inclusion and independently extracted data. Forty-seven trials were identified, studying an average of 14 participants/study (95% confidence interval [CI] 11-18), examined drug interactions with 19 different herbal preparations. All trials were pharmacokinetic studies, 41 of healthy volunteers and 6 of patients. Ten different herbal medicines as well as 5 different traditional herbal concoctions were studied. Potentially clinically significant drug interactions were observed with St. John wort (16/24 studies), garlic (2/5 studies), and American ginseng (1 study). Research on NHP-drug interactions is limited in number and scope. With the exception of St. John wort, clinicians and the public do not have information that permits strong inferences about interactions between NHPs and conventional medications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Trials as Topic*
  • Garlic
  • Ginkgo biloba
  • Herb-Drug Interactions*
  • Hypericum
  • Panax
  • Phytotherapy*