Herb-Drug Interactions of Commonly Used Chinese Medicinal Herbs

Int Rev Neurobiol. 2017;135:197-232. doi: 10.1016/bs.irn.2017.02.010. Epub 2017 Apr 14.


With more and more popular use of traditional herbal medicines, in particular Chinese herbal medicines, herb-drug interactions have become a more and more important safety issue in the clinical applications of the conventional drugs. Researches in this area are increasing very rapidly. Herb-drug interactions are complicated due to the fact that multiple chemical components are involved, and these compounds may possess diverse pharmacological activities. Interactions can be in both pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics. Abundant studies focused on pharmacokinetic interactions of herbs and drugs. Herbs may affect the behavior of the concomitantly used drugs by changing their absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion. Studies on pharmacodynamics interactions of herbs and drugs are still very limited. Herb-drug interactions are potentially causing changes in drug levels and drug activities and leading to either therapeutic failure or toxicities. Sometime it can be fatal. The exposures to drugs, lacking of knowledge in the potential adverse herb-drug interactions, will put big risk to patients' safety in medical services. On the contrary, some interactions may be therapeutically beneficial. It may be used to help develop new therapeutic strategies in the future. This chapter is trying to review the development in the area of herb-drug interactions based on the recently published research findings. Information on the potential interactions among the commonly used Chinese medicinal herbs and conventional drugs is summarized in this chapter.

Keywords: Chinese herbal medicine; Drug metabolism; Herb–drug interactions; Pharmacokinetics.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Databases, Bibliographic / statistics & numerical data
  • Herb-Drug Interactions*
  • Humans
  • Medicine, Chinese Traditional*