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Herb-Drug Interactions and Hepatotoxicity

[ Vol. 20 , Issue. 4 ]


Mohammad K. Parvez* and Vikas Rishi   Pages 275 - 282 ( 8 )


Background: In recent times, herbals or phytomedicines have become very popular due to their global acceptance as a complementary and alternative remedy. While modern drugs are commercially available only after laboratory validations, clinical trials, as well as approval from drug regulatory authorities, majority of the marketed herbal products lack such scientific evidence of efficacy and safety. This results in herb or herb-drug interaction induced unfavorable clinical outcomes without crucial documentation on their temporal relations and concomitant use.

Methods: An online literature search for peer-reviewed articles was conducted on the PubMed, Europe PMC, Medline and Google Scholar portals, using the phrases: complementary & alternative medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, herb-drug interaction, mechanisms of herb-drug interaction, herb-induced toxicity, herbal hepatotoxicity and causality, traditional medicine, viral hepatitis, etc.

Results: The retrieved data showed that globally, patients are attracted to herbal remedies with the misconception that these are completely safe and therefore, use them simultaneously with prescription drugs. Notably, there exists a potential risk of herb-drug interactions leading to some adverse side effects, including hepatotoxicity. The toxicological effect of a drug or herb is due to the inhibition of drug metabolizing enzymes (e.g., cytochrome P450), including interactions with certain prescription drugs through various mechanisms. Several cases of hepatotoxicity due to use of herbals in viral hepatitis-related liver diseases have been recently reported. However, limited experimental data and clinical evidence on herbal pharmacokinetics hamper the evaluation and reporting of adverse reactions and the underlying mechanisms.

Conclusion: Herb-drug interaction related morbidity is thus an emerging serious public health issue with broad implications for clinicians, pharmaceutical industries and health authorities. Nonetheless, despite increasing recognition of herb-drug interaction, a standard system for interaction prediction and evaluation is still nonexistent. This review article discusses the herb-drug interactions related hepatotoxicity and underlying mechanisms, including drug metabolizing enzymes and their regulation.


Complementary & alternative medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, herbals, drug metabolism, herb-drug interaction, hepatotoxicity.


Department of Pharmacognosy, King Saud University College of Pharmacy, Riyadh 11451, National Agri-Food Biotechnology Institute, Mohali, Punjab 140306

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