Will the Chinese herbal medicine I am taking interact with the medication I have been prescribed by my doctor?
Dr Kirk Wilson at Meridian Healing Centre recommends you consult your treating doctor if you have any concerns about taking Chinese herbal medicine with prescribed medication.
Research into the interaction between Chinese medicine herbs with pharmaceutical drugs is only in its infancy. Chinese herbal medicine may have been around for thousands of years but medical drug therapy is relatively new. As a result, little is known and further research in this area is needed.
Practitioners of Chinese herbal medicine custom tailor herbal prescriptions for each individual patient. This implicitly causes a high rate of variance in the herbal formulas which are prescribed and turn causes a lack a standardisation. In contrast studies to test for possible counteraction with pharmaceutical medications with require fixed ingredients in the herbal prescriptions.
It is just not practically possible to fully account for possible interactions between Chinese herbal medicine and pharmaceuticals. Chinese herbs are prescribed in formulas which usually consist of between approximately eight to ten herbs. For a full understanding of the possible interactions, all these herbs would need to be examined individually. Then all the herbs would need to be examined together as a unified formula. All this will need to be repeated for all the formula variations (which add or subtract herbs), not to mention all the varying dosages of the respective herbs. There is not the funding to perform research of this nature.
Some of the common herbs used in Chinese herbal medicine have been analysed in an attempt to find out the medicinal qualities. Though, most of these studies were conducted on rats, mice and dogs and little has been verified for humans. From these studies and thousands of years of clinical experience, each herb used in Chinese herbal medicine has known and documented cautions and contraindications. A qualified and experienced Chinese herbal medicine practitioner is aware of these and will prescribe you herbal treatment accordingly.