This drug is from the beta-adrenergic blockers or “beta blockers” family of drugs, which are used to treat high blood pressure, angina, heart arrhythmia, tremors, alcohol withdrawal, glaucoma, and other conditions. They are also used to prevent migraine headaches, stage fright, and second heart attacks.
Some beta-adrenergic blockers (called “nonselective” beta blockers) decrease the uptake of potassium from the blood into the cells,1 leading to excess potassium in the blood, a potentially dangerous condition known as hyperkalemia.2 People taking beta-blockers should therefore avoid taking potassium supplements, or eating large quantities of fruit (e.g., bananas), unless directed to do so by their doctor.
As pleurisy root and other plants in the Aesclepius genus contain cardiac glycosides, it is best to avoid use of pleurisy root with heart medications such as beta blockers.3
1. Rosa RM, Silva P, Young JB, et al. Adrenergic modulation of extrarenal potassium disposal. N Engl J Med 1980;302:431–4.
2. Lundborg P. The effect of adrenergic blockade on potassium concentrations in different conditions. Acta Med Scand Suppl 1983;672:121–6 [review].
3. Newall CA, Anderson LA, Phillipson JD. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health-Care Professionals. London: Pharmaceutical Press, 1996, 213–4.
Last Review: 05-01-2013
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