Codeine is a narcotic analgesic (pain reliever) derived from opium. It is used alone and in combination products to treat mild to moderate pain and as a cough suppressant.
Summary of Interactions with Vitamins, Herbs, & Foods
|May Be Beneficial: Depletion or interference—This medication may deplete these substances from the body or interfere with how they work; extra intake may help replenish them.||
|May Be Beneficial: Side effect reduction and/or prevention—These substances may help reduce the likelihood and/or severity of a potential side effect caused by the medication.||
|May Be Beneficial: Supportive interaction—These substances may help this medication work better.||
|Avoid: Reduces drug effectiveness—When taking this medication, avoid these substances as they may decrease the medication's absorption and/or activity in the body.||
|Avoid: Adverse interaction—When taking this medication, avoid these substances, as the combination may cause undesirable or dangerous interactions.||
|Check: Explanation needed—When taking this medication, read the article details and discuss them with your doctor or pharmacist before taking these substances.||
Interactions with Herbs
Tannins are a group of unrelated chemicals that give plants an astringent taste. Herbs with large amounts of tannins may interfere with the absorption of codeine and should not be taken together with codeine or codeine-containing products.1 Herbs containing high levels of tannins include green tea (Camellia sinensis), black tea, uva ursi (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi), black walnut (Juglans nigra), red raspberry (Rubus idaeus), oak (Quercus spp.), and witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana).
Interactions with Foods & Other Compounds
Codeine commonly causes gastrointestinal (GI) upset. Codeine and codeine-containing products may be taken with food to reduce or prevent GI upset.2 A common side effect of narcotic analgesics, including codeine, is constipation. Increasing dietary fiber (fruits, vegetables, beans, whole-grain foods, and others) and water intake can ease constipation.
Alcohol causes a loss of coordination, impaired judgment, decreased alertness, drowsiness, and other actions. Narcotic analgesics, including codeine, cause similar loss of control. Combining codeine and alcohol increases the risk of accidental injury. People taking codeine-containing products should avoid alcohol.
1. Brinker F. Interactions of pharmaceutical and botanical medicines. J Naturopathic Med 1997;7(2):14–20.
2. Threlkeld DS, ed. Central Nervous System Drugs, Narcotic Agonist Analgesics. In Facts and Comparisons Drug Information. St. Louis, MO: Facts and Comparisons, Feb 1990, 243d.
Last Review: 08-17-2011
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