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Herbal Supplements, Warfarin Can Be Hazardous Mix
Date:5/14/2010

Garlic, ginkgo, St John's Wort could all upset bleeding/clotting balance, study found

THURSDAY, May 13 (HealthDay News) -- People taking the prescription blood thinner warfarin (Coumadin) may up their risk for health complications if they also take herbal or non-herbal supplements, new research reveals.

In fact, eight out of the 10 most popular supplements in the United States could spark safety concerns with respect to warfarin, while also impacting the drug's effectiveness.

"I specifically looked at warfarin use, but the real issue is that even though herbal supplements fall under the category of food, and they're not regulated like prescription drugs, they still have the effects of a drug in the body," cautioned study author Jennifer L. Strohecker, a clinical pharmacist at Intermountain Medical Center in Salt Lake City.

"Warfarin is a very high-risk medication, which can be associated with severe consequences when it's not managed properly," she added. "However, warfarin is derived from a plant, sweet clover. In fact, many of our prescription drugs came from plants. So, it's very important for patients to recognize that just because an herb is marketed not like a prescription drug [that] doesn't mean it doesn't have similar effects in the body."

Strohecker and her colleagues are slated to present their findings Thursday at the Heart Rhythm Society annual meeting in Denver.

The authors note that almost 20 percent of Americans currently take some type of herbal or non-herbal supplement.

To gauge how these products might interact with warfarin, the researchers ranked the 20 most popular herbals and 20 most popular non-herbal supplements based on 2008 sales data, and then looked at how their use affected both clotting tendency and bleeding.

More than half of the herbal and non-herbal supplements were found to have either an indirect or direct impact on warfarin. Nearly two-t
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