Herbal Cholesterol Drug Bad Mix for Many Prescription Meds
Fri Oct 15, 2004

FRIDAY, Oct. 15 (HealthDayNews) -- The cholesterol-lowering herbal drug gugulipid breaks down about 60 percent of prescription drugs, including some used to fight AIDS and cancer, says a University of Kansas study.

Researchers found that guggulsterone, the active ingredient in gugulipid, switches on the cell receptor PXR, which triggers a liver enzyme that breaks down many prescription drugs. Gugulipid can be bought without a prescription.

Those liver enzymes may also create carcinogens out of chemicals in the body that normally do not cause cancer, the researchers said.

"This country's diet is atrocious, so there are plenty of people walking around with high cholesterol. They'll get on the Web and see the gugulipid herbal therapy lowers cholesterol and is available without a prescription," researcher Jeff Staudinger, an assistant professor of pharmacology and toxicology, said in a prepared statement.

"They may then begin self-medicating with gugulipid in addition to other drugs prescribed by their physician. In this study, we've shown that, when they do, they have a high likelihood of causing herb-drug interactions," Staudinger said.

The study appears in the current issue of the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.

More information
The U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine has more about herbal supplements.