|Article by Ann Walker|
So, it’s good to see increasing evidence coming forward of positive herb-drug interactions (or synergy). This past twelve months, we have seen two examples of synergy in ginkgo studies. The first was a combination of ginkgo with steroids (PMID: 29797955). The forty-two volunteers in the study had lost their sense of smell due to nasal congestion following a viral infection. All received daily steroids, but half of them also took ginkgo extract daily for 3 months. While the sense of smell was improved in all patients, it was improved to a greater extent in the combination group.
The second study was larger, with 136 elderly people with depression (PMID: 30278520). All took the antidepressant citalopram daily but half of them took, in addition, a daily supplement of ginkgo. The combined treatment alleviated depression faster that citalopram alone. Furthermore, the lowering of depression was accompanied by a drop in S100B protein in the bloodstream. S110B is released by ‘housekeeping’ cells in the brain in response to injury and levels are high in depression. In this study, the drop in S100B levels in the combined group was greater than in the citalopram-alone group.
Practitioners of herbal medicine always check the drugs their patients are using/prescribed, to avoid potential herb-drug interactions. Fortunately, proven negative interactions between herbs and drugs in humans are rare, but, even so, the media frequently carries scare stories of adverse interactions based on speculative, rather than proven cases. Often adverse herb-drug interactions cited in the press are based on extrapolated data from laboratory animals fed high levels of the herb, or test-tube studies or just plain guesses. So, it is good to see research reports of positive interactions (synergy) between herbs and drugs.
PMID = PubMed identifier
Ann Walker PhD FCPP MNIMH RNutr
Course Director DHM