Drug Information

Sertraline is a member of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) family of drugs used to treat people with depression.

Common brand names:

Zoloft

Summary of Interactions with Vitamins, Herbs, & Foods

Types of interactions: Beneficial Adverse Check

Replenish Depleted Nutrients

  • Sodium

    SSRI drugs, including sertraline, have been reported to cause sodium depletion. The risk for SSRI-induced sodium depletion appears to be increased during the first few weeks of treatment in women, the elderly, and patients also using diuretics. Doctors prescribing SSRI drugs, including sertraline, should monitor their patients for signs of sodium depletion.

Reduce Side Effects

  • Ginkgo

    In three men and two women treated with fluoxetine or sertraline (SSRI drugs closely related to paroxetine) for depression who experienced sexual dysfunction, addition of Ginkgo biloba extract (GBE) in the amount of 240 mg per day effectively reversed the sexual dysfunction. This makes sense because ginkgo has been reported to help men with some forms of erectile dysfunction.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.

Support Medicine

  • Chromium

    There have been five case reports of chromium supplementation (200-400 mcg per day) significantly improving mood in people with a type of depression called dysthymic disorder who were also taking sertraline. These case reports, while clearly limited and preliminary in scope, warrant a controlled trial to better understand the benefits, if any, of chromium supplementation in people taking this drug.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.

Reduces Effectiveness

  • none

Potential Negative Interaction

  • 5-HTP

    Sertraline increases serotonin activity in the brain. 5-HTP and L-tryptophan are converted to serotonin in the brain, and taking either of these compounds with sertraline may increase sertraline-induced side effects.

    In one report, dietary supplements of L-tryptophan (available only by prescriptions from special compounding pharmacists) taken with paroxetine (a drug similar to sertraline) caused headache, sweating, dizziness, agitation, restlessness, nausea, vomiting, and other symptoms. On the other hand, the combination of 45 mg DL-tryptophan (a synthetic variation of L-tryptophan) per pound of body weight (a relatively high dose) with zimelidine, a drug with a similar action to sertraline, did not cause these side effects in another trial. Some doctors have used small amounts of L-tryptophan in combination with SSRIs, to increase the effectiveness of the latter. However, because of the potential for side effects, 5-HTP and L-tryptophan should never be taken in combination with sertraline or other SSRIs, unless the combination is being closely monitored by a doctor. Foods rich in L-tryptophan do not appear to interact with sertraline or other SSRIs.

  • L-Tryptophan

    Sertraline increases serotonin activity in the brain. 5-HTP and L-tryptophan are converted to serotonin in the brain, and taking either of these compounds with sertraline may increase sertraline-induced side effects.

    In one report, dietary supplements of L-tryptophan (available only by prescriptions from special compounding pharmacists) taken with paroxetine (a drug similar to sertraline) caused headache, sweating, dizziness, agitation, restlessness, nausea, vomiting, and other symptoms. On the other hand, the combination of 45 mg DL-tryptophan (a synthetic variation of L-tryptophan) per pound of body weight (a relatively high dose) with zimelidine, a drug with a similar action to sertraline, did not cause these side effects in another trial. Some doctors have used small amounts of L-tryptophan in combination with SSRIs, to increase the effectiveness of the latter. However, because of the potential for side effects, 5-HTP and L-tryptophan should never be taken in combination with sertraline or other SSRIs, unless the combination is being closely monitored by a doctor. Foods rich in L-tryptophan do not appear to interact with sertraline or other SSRIs.

  • St. John's Wort

    One report described a case of serotonin syndrome in a patient who took St. John's wort and trazodone, a weak SSRI drug. The patient reportedly experienced mental confusion, muscle twitching, sweating, flushing, and ataxia. In another case, a patient experienced grogginess, lethargy, nausea, weakness, and fatigue after taking one dose of paroxetine (Paxil®, another SSRI drug) after ten days of St. John's wort use.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.

Explanation Required 

  • Grapefruit
    In a study of healthy volunteers, ingestion of grapefruit juice along with sertraline increased blood levels of the drug. Eating grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice may therefore increase both the effectiveness and the adverse effects of sertraline. People taking sertraline should not consume grapefruit without medical supervision.
The Drug-Nutrient Interactions table may not include every possible interaction. Taking medicines with meals, on an empty stomach, or with alcohol may influence their effects. For details, refer to the manufacturers' package information as these are not covered in this table. If you take medications, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a new supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.