What are Depletions and Interactions?
What Are Depletions and Interactions?
Your body functions because millions of chemical reactions are constantly going on inside you.
Everything that you eat and drink influences those reactions, including foods, beverages, and
Using drugs to treat illness
Drugs are manufactured to help correct the body’s chemistry when irregularities are
caused by illness or genetic makeup.
When the body isn’t working properly, drugs can often replace a chemical that is
missing, block an unwanted reaction, or enhance a desired reaction. In the process, a drug may
also cause the body to lose or need more of important nutrients, such as potassium, sodium,
calcium, or some vitamins.
Sometimes, taking an herb or nutrient with a drug can cause an unhealthy or harmful
reaction. Other times, an herb or nutrient might actually improve the action of a drug. Some
herbs or nutrients, when taken at the same time as a drug, might reduce the amount of
medication absorbed into the body, reducing its effectiveness. (This can often be avoided by
taking the drug and the herb or nutrient at different times.)
All drugs have the potential to cause unwanted symptoms, or side effects. Some herbs or
nutrients, when taken with a drug, might help to prevent the side effects or make them less
Depletion happens when a drug “depletes” or causes the body to lose a nutrient.
The drug might also interfere with the nutrient’s absorption.
A good example of a drug that depletes nutrients from the body is the diuretic furosemide.
Furosemide causes the body to lose potassium, so people taking furosemide might need to
supplement with potassium to avoid unwanted problems such as muscle cramps, fatigue, or
Interactions happen when a nutrient affects the way a drug works, or when a drug affects
the way a nutrient works. Interactions can be beneficial or harmful.
An example of a good result of an interaction might be when a person taking the drug
fluoxetine (Prozac) also takes the nutrient folic acid. This combination might increase the
An example of a bad result of an interaction might be a person taking the herb St.
John’s wort while taking the drug digoxin (Lanoxin). In this situation, the herb might
reduce the absorption of the drug, which would result in lower-than-necessary blood levels of
Using Medicines with Vitamins and Herbs
(Rx Answers/Medicine Answers)
Healthnotes provides depletion and interaction information for drugs, nutritional
supplements, herbs, and foods. All medications are indexed alphabetically both by their
generic and brand names.
Within each drug article you will find a summary listing the interacting supplements,
herbs, and foods in one or more of the following six categories:
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do you sometimes list a supplement as both beneficial and
something to avoid for the same drug?
When a medication depletes the body of a nutrient, it may be beneficial to take more of that
nutrient to compensate; however, it might also be necessary to avoid taking the nutritional
supplement at the same time as the drug because taking them together might reduce drug
For example, calcium is listed as both beneficial and as something to avoid when taking
thyroid medication. Taking extra calcium might be necessary to replace the calcium that is
depleted by thyroid hormone, but it should not be taken at the same time as thyroid hormone
because calcium might reduce absorption of the drug.
How do I know if my drug is causing a depletion or
Usually a person does not know that a drug is depleting a nutrient until the body shows
symptoms of deficiency. In some cases, your healthcare provider might run blood tests to check
whether nutrient levels are low. For example, individuals taking the diuretic furosemide
should have potassium blood levels monitored regularly to detect depletion.
You might notice a bad interaction if your drug stops working as effectively or if you
develop unwanted symptoms when you begin taking a new nutrient or add a new food to your diet.
Similarly, you might notice a beneficial interaction if your drug starts working better after
adding a new food or nutrient.
As natural substances, are herbs and vitamins safer than
Herbs and vitamins are not necessarily safer just because they are natural. Though herbs and
vitamins are generally safer than drugs, some might produce unwanted side effects when a
person takes too much. And if you are taking medications, you should always check with your
doctor or pharmacist before taking new herbs or nutritional supplements.
When nutrients are depleted, are supplements the only way to
Though supplements are more commonly used than foods to replace depleted nutrients, certain
foods may also work. For example, people who need to replace potassium might choose to eat
bananas or other fruit rather than take supplements.
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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only.
It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience,
or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur
in all individuals. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over
the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or chemist
for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in