Drug interactions of natural supplements in dermatology: a review

Int J Dermatol. 2021 Oct;60(10):1183-1189. doi: 10.1111/ijd.15389. Epub 2020 Dec 23.


Limited information is available on the drug-drug interactions of natural supplements in dermatology. Many natural supplements are available over the counter, but drug-drug interactions can occur. This study reviews the clinical use and drug interactions of six natural supplements commonly recommended in dermatology: nicotinic acid (nicotinamide), polypodium leucotomos (heliocare), turmeric, horse chestnut seed extract, zinc, and N-acetylcysteine. We reviewed the drug-drug interactions of each supplement using the PubMed database and IBM Micromedex. For nicotinic acid, zinc, horse chestnut, and N-acetylcysteine, IBM Micromedex generated 11, 23, one, and two results, respectively. Further review of literature from PubMed identified two drug interactions with polypodium leucotomos, two with turmeric, and two more with zinc. Notable interactions included an increased risk of myopathy and rhabdomyolysis when nicotinic acid is taken by patients using statins, an increased risk of bleeding associated with horse chestnut seed, especially when used in combination with warfarin, and reduced plasma concentration in many drugs when taken with zinc. Furthermore, N-acetylcysteine may interfere with concentrations of other medications used in the psychiatric setting, and polypodium leucotomos and turmeric may interfere with the CYP metabolic pathway, which may affect drugs metabolized by this pathway. Prior to recommending a treatment, dermatologists should foster awareness of these interactions. In order to advance the practice as a whole, research should continue to evaluate the drug interactions of these natural supplements.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dermatology*
  • Dietary Supplements / adverse effects
  • Drug Interactions
  • Humans
  • Phytotherapy / adverse effects
  • Polypodium*