Taking the cholesterol-lowering herbal supplement gugulipid may interfere with many other medications-including some that fight AIDS and cancer, according to a University of Kansas study.
The research indicates that an active ingredient in this herb interferes with the liver's ability to absorb or metabolize approximately 60% or prescription drugs that were tested.
Available over-the-counter, gugulipid may also trigger enzymes to create carcinogens out of chemicals in the body that normally do not cause cancer, the researchers say.
Many people who have high cholesterol will look on the Internet for information, and find that gugulipid is available without a prescription.
"They may then begin self-medicating with gugulipid in addition to other drugs prescribed by their physician. When they do, they have a high likelihood of causing herb-drug interactions," says researcher Jeff Staudinger, an assistant professor of pharmacology and toxicology.
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