Pharmacokinetics and Herb-Drug Interactions

Concurrent use of multiple herbs or whole food extracts with drugs may mimic, magnify, or oppose the effect of drugs. Herb-drug interactions are generally not chemical reactions that produce something toxic. Instead, the interaction may increase or decrease in the amount of drug in the blood stream.

Though food extracts and herbals preparations are often safe, their potency is usually not sufficient to cause tumor regression, so therapeutic regimens involving conventional drugs to treat cancer remain inevitable. Such combinatorial usage of herbs and conventional drugs can result in side effects due to herb-drug interactions. For this reason, we aim to understand the physiological pharmacokinetic interactions resulting from alterations in the absorption, distribution, metabolism, and/or elimination of conventional drugs by herbs or other dietary supplements so that these agents can be rationally modified to improve efficacy and minimize side effects.

Did You Know?

The anti-tussive noscapine, derived from the opium poppy, displays some anti-cancer activity, along with evidence of effectiveness in treating stroke. An array of noscapine derivatives display even greater anti-cancer activity without major increases in toxicity. Noscapine and its analogs impair microtubule dynamics, which cripples intracellular traffic and mitosis.