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 Vitamins
One of the main uses of penicillamine is to reduce toxic copper deposits in people with Wilson’s disease. People taking a copper supplement can make Wilson’s disease worse and may negate the benefits of drugs used to remove copper from the body.
Penicillamine binds iron. When taken with iron, penicillamine absorption and activity are reduced.1 Four cases of penicillamine-induced kidney damage were reported when concomitant iron therapy was stopped, which presumably led to the increased penicillamine absorption and toxicity.2
Penicillamine may increase vitamin B6 excretion, reduce activity, and increase the risk for vitamin B6 deficiency.3 It makes sense for people taking penicillamine to supplement with small (5–20 mg per day) amounts of vitamin B6. Some researchers have suggested that as much as 50 mg per day of vitamin B6 may be necessary.4
People taking penicillamine should discuss with their doctor whether it would be appropriate to take a zinc supplement (at a separate time of day from the penicillamine).5 However, people taking penicillamine should not supplement with zinc, unless they are being supervised by a doctor.
One report found bromelain improved the action of antibiotic drugs, including penicillin and erythromycin, in treating a variety of infections. In that trial, 22 out of 23 people who had previously not responded to the antibiotics did so after adding bromelain four times per day.6 Doctors will sometimes prescribe enough bromelain to equal 2,400 gelatin dissolving units (listed as GDU on labels) per day. This amount would equal approximately 3,600 MCU (milk clotting units), another common measure of bromelain activity.
In a double-blind study with ten healthy people, guar gum reduced penicillin absorption.7 Until more is known, to avoid this interaction, people taking penicillin should take it two hours before or after any guar gum-containing supplements. It remains unclear whether the smaller amounts of guar gum found in many processed foods would have a significant effect.
Penicillamine therapy has been associated with sodium depletion.8 The frequency of this association remains unclear.
Interactions with Foods & Other Compounds
Food decreases penicillamine absorption.9 Penicillamine should be taken one hour before or two hours after any food to avoid this interaction.
1. Threlkeld DS, ed. Miscellaneous Products, Penicillamine. In Facts and Comparisons Drug Information. St. Louis, MO: Facts and Comparisons, Aug 1996, 714–6b.
2. Harkness JAL, Blake DR. Penicillamine nephropathy and iron. Lancet 1982;ii:1368–9.
3. Holt GA. Food & Drug Interactions. Chicago: Precept Press, 1998, 203.
4. Rothschild B. Pyridoxine deficiency. Arch Intern Med 1982;142:840.
5. Holt GA. Food & Drug Interactions. Chicago: Precept Press, 1998, 201.
6. Neubauer RA. A plant protease for potentiation of and possible replacement of antibiotics. Exp Med Surg 1961;19:143–60.
7. Huupponen R, Seppala P, Iisalo E. Effect of guar gum, a fibre preparation, on digoxin and penicillin absorption in man. Eur J Clin Pharmacol 1984;26:279–81.
8. Holt GA. Food & Drug Interactions. Chicago: Precept Press, 1998, 202
9. Threlkeld DS, ed. Miscellaneous Products, Penicillamine. In Facts and Comparisons Drug Information. St. Louis, MO: Facts and Comparisons, Aug 1996, 714–6b.
Last Review: 08-17-2011
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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over-the-counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2013.
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