Pharma-nutrition interface: the gap is narrowing

Eur J Pharmacol. 2011 Jan 25;651(1-3):1-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2010.11.007. Epub 2010 Nov 30.


The interaction between pharmacology and nutrition science is on the rise. Nutritional status is considered one of the important determinants of health and disease and several diseases of our time have a clear link with lifestyle factors including the diet. There is also increasing realization that a continuum between health and disease often exists without strict boundaries. Understanding the subtle interactions between genes, environment and homeostatic processes is the key in finding effective ways to prevent, treat or manage disease. Both pharmacologists and nutritionists are recognizing that most of the low hanging fruit has been picked, and that the one disease-one target-one drug (or nutrient) concept will provide fewer successes than it did in the past. Instead, complex multi-factorial diseases require multi-pathway understanding and multi-targeting approaches which will often result in compound combinations. Therapeutic synergy between foods and drugs does not necessarily mean that both have the same primary target. There are also examples of nutritional products that effectively contribute to the therapeutic regimen by improving the patients' general condition or by reducing side-effects of drugs. Examples of conditions and diseases that are highlighted in this review include the metabolic syndrome with its co-morbidities, immune-related diseases and HIV. With the aging population there are other fields emerging, including CNS-related diseases and cancer, where we will likely see an increased synergy between the two disciplines that seemed to have lost contact since the times of Hippocrates.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diet Therapy
  • Food / classification
  • Humans
  • Nutritional Sciences*
  • Pharmacology / methods*