Herb and spice mediated interactions in oncologic patients treated with chemotherapy
The use of herbs to treat illnesses was common in all historical eras. Furthermore, many “modern” drugs have “natural” origins, and this point of view is pursued and stressed for commercial purposes in any fields of treatment. A plethora of dietary supplements, phytotherapeutics and homeopathic substances are nowadays easy to buy and, for this reason, the thought that natural is equal to safe is becoming widespread among the population. Anyhow, all the substances we take herbs or food, are drugs and thus could cause adverse effects as direct toxicity (e.g. use of foxglove, even a rare case of belladonna berries misidentified as juniper berries) or interaction with other substances. In the latter case, many foods, herbs and spices have already proved to alter co-administered drugs pharmacokinetics and/or pharmacodynamics. The results range from a reduced drug activity to the onset of drug-mediated side effects, thus potentially hampering the efficacy of pharmacological therapy.