Cytochrome P450 enzyme mediated herbal drug interactions (Part 2)


  • Sompon Wanwimolruk Center for Innovation Development and Technology Transfer, Faculty of Medical Technology, Mahidol University, Thailand
  • Kamonrat Phopin Center for Innovation Development and Technology Transfer, Faculty of Medical Technology, Mahidol University, Thailand
  • Virapong Prachayasittikul Department of Clinical Microbiology and Applied Technology, Faculty of Medical Technology, Mahidol University, Thailand


herbal drug interactions, CYP, dietary supplements, herbal medicines, Chinese herbal medicines, drug interactions


To date, a number of significant herbal drug interactions have their origins in the alteration of cytochrome P450 (CYP) activity by various phytochemicals. Among the most noteworthy are those involving St. John's wort and drugs metabolized by human CYP3A4 enzyme. This review article is the continued work from our previous article (Part 1) published in this journal (Wanwimolruk and Prachayasittikul, 2014[ref:133]). This article extends the scope of the review to six more herbs and updates information on herbal drug interactions. These include black cohosh, ginseng, grape seed extract, green tea, kava, saw palmetto and some important Chinese medicines are also presented. Even though there have been many studies to determine the effects of herbs and herbal medicines on the activity of CYP, most of them were in vitro and in animal studies. Therefore, the studies are limited in predicting the clinical relevance of herbal drug interactions. It appeared that the majority of the herbal medicines have no clear effects on most of the CYPs examined. For example, the existing clinical trial data imply that black cohosh, ginseng and saw palmetto are unlikely to affect the pharmacokinetics of conventional drugs metabolized by human CYPs. For grape seed extract and green tea, adverse herbal drug interactions are unlikely when they are concomitantly taken with prescription drugs that are CYP substrates. Although there were few clinical studies on potential CYP-mediated interactions produced by kava, present data suggest that kava supplements have the ability to inhibit CYP1A2 and CYP2E1 significantly. Therefore, caution should be taken when patients take kava with CYP1A2 or CYP2E1 substrate drugs as it may enhance their therapeutic and adverse effects. Despite the long use of traditional Chinese herbal medicines, little is known about the potential drug interactions with these herbs. Many popularly used Chinese medicines have been shown in vitro to significantly change the activity of human CYP. However, with little confirming evidence from clinical studies, precaution should be exercised when patients are taking Chinese herbal medicines concomitantly with drugs that are CYP substrates. Currently there is sufficient evidence to indicate that herbal drug interactions can occur and may lead to serious clinical consequence. Further clinical trial research should be conducted to verify these herbal drug interactions. Education on herbal drug interactions and communication with patients on their use of herbal products is also important.



How to Cite

Wanwimolruk, S., Phopin, K., & Prachayasittikul, V. (2014). Cytochrome P450 enzyme mediated herbal drug interactions (Part 2). EXCLI Journal, 13, 869–896. Retrieved from



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