Does Xanax Interact with Herbal Supplements?

According to the National Institutes of Health, Xanax is a benzodiazepine medication that is prescribed to treat anxiety and panic disorders. Xanax is very addictive and can have serious side effects, including a fatal overdose. Certain medications such as anti-depressants can interact adversely with the drug. Xanax can also interact with herbal supplements, specifically supplements that affect the nervous system including St John's Wort, Valerian Root, Melatonin and Kava. Speak to your doctor before taking anything with Xanax, to reduce the chance of any side effects.

A pharmacist is consulting a patient.
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Kava

According to the 1998 issue of "Alternative Medicine Review," Kava or Piper methysticum is a medicinal plant that was originally found to grow in the South Pacific Islands. Kava also has a similar mechanism of action to Xanax, and if they're taken together, kava can increase the effects of the medication. By increasing the effects felt with Xanax, serious side effects may occur ranging from dizziness and nausea to seizures and thoughts of suicide.

St. John's Wort

St. John's Wort is a supplement that is used as an herbal treatment for depression, although the effects of this compound against depression are not entirely supported by scientific research. According to the 2003 issue of the "Journal of the American Medical Association," by increasing the activity of the liver enzyme cytochrome P450 3A4 — an enzyme that is important in the metabolism of Xanax — St. John's Wort can decrease the blood levels of Xanax, ultimately decreasing the effectiveness of this medication.

Valerian

Valerian is a popular dietary supplement sold in the United States as a possible self-treatment for insomnia; however, its safety and effectiveness as such has not been fully studied. Although interactions of valerian with Xanax have not been studied extensively, according to the 2004 issue of "Drug Metabolism & Disposition," valerian significantly increased blood levels of Xanax. By increasing the level of Xanax in the blood, it is possible that valerian might exacerbate the side effects of the medication.

Cautions

"Natural" is not synonymous with "safe." Although only a few herbal supplements are presently known to interact with Xanax, it is possible that many other interactions may exist. The research simply has not yet been performed. It is essential that patients taking Xanax, or any other medication for that matter, should consult their doctor before deciding to use any herbal supplements. Furthermore, if while taking any supplements, you feel unwanted effects, cease the supplement immediately and consult your doctor.

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