Background: Patients who undergo surgery appear to use dietary supplements significantly more frequently than the general population. Because they contain pharmacologically active compounds, dietary supplements may affect coagulation and platelet function during the perioperative period through direct effects, pharmacodynamic interactions, and pharmacokinetic interactions. However, in this regard, limited studies have been conducted that address the pharmacological interactions of dietary supplements. To avoid possible bleeding risks during surgery, information of potential complications of dietary supplements during perioperative management is important for physicians.
Methods: Through a systematic database search of all available years, articles were identified in this review if they included dietary supplements and coagulation/platelet function, while special attention was paid to studies published after 1990.
Results: Safety concerns are reported in commercially available dietary supplements. Effects of the most commonly used natural products on blood coagulation and platelet function are systematically reviewed, including 11 herbal medicines (echinacea, ephedra, garlic, ginger, ginkgo, ginseng, green tea, kava, saw palmetto, St John's wort, and valerian) and 4 other dietary supplements (coenzyme Q10, glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, fish oil, and vitamins). Bleeding risks of garlic, ginkgo, ginseng, green tea, saw palmetto, St John's wort, and fish oil are reported. Cardiovascular instability was observed with ephedra, ginseng, and kava. Pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic interactions between dietary supplements and drugs used in the perioperative period are discussed.
Conclusions: To prevent potential problems associated with the use of dietary supplements, physicians should be familiar with the perioperative effects of commonly used dietary supplements. Since the effects of dietary supplements on coagulation and platelet function are difficult to predict, it is prudent to advise their discontinuation before surgery.
Keywords: bleeding; coagulation; dietary supplements; natural products; platelet function; surgery.