Interferon alfacon-1Skip to the navigation
Common brand names:Infergen
Summary of Interactions with Vitamins, Herbs, & Foods
Replenish Depleted Nutrients
Neomycin can decrease absorption or increase elimination of many nutrients, including calcium, carbohydrates, beta-carotene, fats, folic acid, iron, magnesium, potassium, sodium, and vitamin A, vitamin B12, vitamin D, and vitamin K.1 , 2 Surgery preparation with oral neomycin is unlikely to lead to deficiencies. It makes sense for people taking neomycin for more than a few days to also take a multivitamin-mineral supplement.
Several cases of excessive bleeding have been reported in people who take antibiotics.3 , 4 , 5 , 6 This side effect may be the result of reduced vitamin K activity and/or reduced vitamin K production by bacteria in the colon. One study showed that people who had taken broad-spectrum antibiotics had lower liver concentrations of vitamin K2 (menaquinone), though vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) levels remained normal.7 Several antibiotics appear to exert a strong effect on vitamin K activity, while others may not have any effect. Therefore, one should refer to a specific antibiotic for information on whether it interacts with vitamin K. Doctors of natural medicine sometimes recommend vitamin K supplementation to people taking antibiotics. Additional research is needed to determine whether the amount of vitamin K1 found in some multivitamins is sufficient to prevent antibiotic-induced bleeding. Moreover, most multivitamins do not contain vitamin K.
Reduce Side Effects
Depression is one of the common side effects of interferon-alpha. In a double-blind trial, supplementing with eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), a fatty acid present in fish oil, significantly decreased the incidence of depression in patients taking interferon-alpha for hepatitis C. The amount of EPA used was 3.5 g per day for 2 weeks prior to the start of interferon-alpha therapy, and then discontinued during interferon-alpha treatment. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), another fatty acid in fish oil, was not effective for preventing interferon-alpha-induced depression.8
In a randomized trial, patients with chronic hepatitis C who were being treated with Peg-interferon-alpha 2b and ribavirin were randomly assigned to receive L-carnitine (2 grams twice a day) or no L-carnitine (control group). Compared with the control group, fewer patients in the L-carnitine group had to reduce the medication dosage or discontinue treatment because of side effects such as anemia or a decline in the white blood cell count.9
A common side effect of antibiotics is diarrhea, which may be caused by the elimination of beneficial bacteria normally found in the colon. Controlled studies have shown that taking probiotic microorganisms—such as Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium longum, or Saccharomyces boulardii—helps prevent antibiotic-induced diarrhea.10
The diarrhea experienced by some people who take antibiotics also might be due to an overgrowth of the bacterium Clostridium difficile, which causes a disease known as pseudomembranous colitis. Controlled studies have shown that supplementation with harmless yeast—such as Saccharomyces boulardii 11 or Saccharomyces cerevisiae (baker’s or brewer’s yeast)12—helps prevent recurrence of this infection.
Treatment with antibiotics also commonly leads to an overgrowth of yeast (Candida albicans) in the vagina (candida vaginitis) and the intestines (sometimes referred to as “dysbiosis”). Controlled studies have shown that Lactobacillus acidophilus might prevent candida vaginitis.13
In one study, taking 500 mg of Saccharomyces boulardii twice daily enhanced the effectiveness of the antibiotic vancomycin in preventing recurrent clostridium infection.14 Therefore, people taking antibiotics who later develop diarrhea might benefit from supplementing with saccharomyces organisms.
Khat (Catha edulis) is an herb found in East Africa and Yemen that has recently been imported into the United States. Studies have shown that chewing khat significantly reduces the absorption of ampicillin,15 which might reduce the effectiveness of the antibiotic. Therefore, people taking ampicillin should avoid herbal products that contain khat.
Potential Negative Interaction
1. Roe DA. Drug-Induced Nutritional Deficiencies, 2d ed. Westport, CT: Avi Publishing, 1985, 157-8 [review].
2. Holt GA. Food & Drug Interactions. Chicago: Precept Press,1998, 183.
3. Suzuki K, Fukushima T, Meguro K, et al. Intracranial hemorrhage in an infant owing to vitamin K deficiency despite prophylaxis. Childs Nerv Syst 1999;15:292-4.
4. Huilgol VR, Markus SL, Vakil NB. Antibiotic-induced iatrogenic hemobilia. Am J Gastroenterol 1997;92:706-7.
5. Bandrowsky T, Vorono AA, Borris TJ, Marcantoni HW. Amoxicllin-related postextraction bleeding in an anticoagulated patient with tranexamic acid rinses. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol Endod 1996;82:610-2.
6. Kaiser CW, McAuliffe JD, Barth RJ, Lynch JA. Hypoprothrombinemia and hemorrhage in a surgical patient treated with cefotetan. Arch Surg 1991;126:524-5.
7. Conly J, Stein K. Reduction of vitamin K2 concentration in human liver associated with the use of broad spectrum antimicrobials. Clin Invest Med 1994;17:531-9.
8. Su KP, Lai HC, Yang HT, et al. Omega-3 fatty acids in the prevention of interferon-alpha-induced depression: results from a randomized, controlled trial. Biol Psychiatry 2014;76:559–66.
9. Malaguarnera M, Vacante M, Giordano M, et al. L-carnitine supplementation improves hematological pattern in patients affected by HCV treated with Peg interferon-alpha 2b plus ribavirin. World J Gastroenterol 2011;17:4414-20.
10. Elmer GW, Surawicz CM, McFarland LV. Biotherapeutic agents. A neglected modality for the treatment and prevention of selected intestinal and vaginal infections. JAMA 1996;275:870-6 [review].
11. Elmer GW, Surawicz CM, McFarland LV. Biotherapeutic agents. A neglected modality for the treatment and prevention of selected intestinal and vaginal infections. JAMA 1996;275:870-6 [review].
12. Schellenberg D, Bonington A, Champion CM, et al. Treatment of Clostridium difficile diarrhoea with brewer's yeast. Lancet 1994;343:171-2.
13. Elmer GW, Surawicz CM, McFarland LV. Biotherapeutic agents. A neglected modality for the treatment and prevention of selected intestinal and vaginal infections. JAMA 1996;275:870-6 [review].
14. Surawicz CM, Elmer GW, Speelman P, et al. Prevention of antibiotic-associated diarrhea by Saccharomyces boulardii: A prospective study. Gastroenterol 1989;96:981-8.
15. Attel OA, Ali AA, Ali HM. Effect of khat chewing on the bioavailability of ampicillin and amoxicillin. J Antimicrob Chemother 1997;39:523-5.
Last Review: 03-24-2015
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