Selected Food/Herb–Drug Interactions: Mechanisms and Clinical Relevance

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Food/Herb–drug interactions have become a major problem in health care. These interactions can lead to loss of therapeutic efficacy or toxic effects of drugs.

Areas of Uncertainty:

To probe the clinical relevance of such interactions, the impact of food/herb intake on the clinical effects of drug administration has to be evaluated. Failure to identify and efficiently manage food–drug interactions can lead to serious consequences. A comprehensive knowledge of the mechanisms that underpin variability in disposition will help optimize therapy.

Data Sources:

Electronic search of literatures from relevant databases were conducted. A total of 58 original scientific reports/review articles were obtained with the search strategy; of which 25 were found eligible to be included in the present review. Required data were extracted from these studies, and their methodologies were assessed.

Results and Conclusions:

This review updates our knowledge on clinical food–drug interactions with emphasis on mechanism and clinical implications. Results obtained from literature search identified interactions with selected foods/herbs generated from in vivo and in vitro studies. For example, interaction studies in humans revealed a reduction in the bioavailability of mercaptopurine when taken concurrently with substances containing xanthine oxidase (eg, cow milk); a reduction in the bioavailability of quinine with Garcinia kola; increased bioavailability/toxicity of felodipine, nifedipine, saquinavir, sildenafil with grape juice; increased bioavailability of felodipine, cisapride with red wine and diminished bioavailability of fexofenadine with apple. Pharmacokinetic and/or pharmacodynamic mechanisms are implicated in many of these interactions. By evaluating the dietary patterns of patients and use of prescribed medications, health professionals will be well informed of potential interactions and associated adverse effects.

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