Gauging the clinical significance of P-glycoprotein-mediated herb-drug interactions: comparative effects of St. John's wort, Echinacea, clarithromycin, and rifampin on digoxin pharmacokinetics

Mol Nutr Food Res. 2008 Jul;52(7):772-9. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.200700081.


Concomitant administration of botanical supplements with drugs that are P-glycoprotein (P-gp) substrates may produce clinically significant herb-drug interactions. This study evaluated the effects of St. John's wort and Echinacea on the pharmacokinetics of digoxin, a recognized P-gp substrate. Eighteen healthy volunteers were randomly assigned to receive a standardized St. John's wort (300 mg three times daily) or Echinacea (267 mg three times daily) supplement for 14 days, followed by a 30-day washout period. Subjects were also randomized to receive rifampin (300 mg twice daily, 7 days) and clarithromycin (500 mg twice daily, 7 days) as positive controls for P-gp induction and inhibition, respectively. Digoxin (Lanoxin 0.25 mg) was administered orally before and after each supplementation and control period. Serial digoxin plasma concentrations were obtained over 24 h and analyzed by chemiluminescent immunoassay. Comparisons of area under the curve (AUC)((0-3)), AUC((0-24)), elimination half-life, and maximum serum concentration were used to assess the effects of St. John's wort, Echinacea, rifampin, and clarithromycin on digoxin disposition. St. John's wort and rifampin both produced significant reductions (p < 0.05) in AUC((0-3)), AUC((0-24)), and C(max), while clarithromycin increased these parameters significantly (p < 0.05). Echinacea supplementation did not affect digoxin pharmacokinetics. Clinically significant P-gp-mediated herb-drug interactions are more likely to occur with St. John's wort than with Echinacea.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B, Member 1 / metabolism*
  • Clarithromycin / pharmacology*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Digoxin / blood*
  • Digoxin / pharmacokinetics
  • Echinacea / metabolism*
  • Flavonoids / pharmacology
  • Ginkgo biloba
  • Herb-Drug Interactions*
  • Hypericum / metabolism*
  • Rifampin / pharmacology*


  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B, Member 1
  • Flavonoids
  • Digoxin
  • Clarithromycin
  • Rifampin