Valerian root and Prozac: (Is there any interaction?)

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In this blog post, we are going to talk about the possible interactions between valerian root and prozac. Prozac is an antidepressant which is used to treat a variety of mental health conditions. 

This antidepressant can interact with different medications, including herbal medicines. This blog will cover the safety and efficacy associated with the use of valerian root and prozac. 

Is there any interaction between Valerian root and Prozac? 

Valerian root and prozac may interact with each other and cause side effects like increased sedation, mental confusion and inability to differentiate between reality and imagination. However, these effects are not common at lower doses.

It is also important to bear in mind that no medicine, either alone or paired with another one, can cause the exact same effects in every other individual. Some people are even sensitive to common over-the-counter medications and they avoid taking them until absolutely necessary.

So, you can imagine how these people would respond to two therapeutically significant agents which can affect their brain. This is exactly why it is not recommended to use anything with antidepressant without your doctor’s approval. 

Some people think that herbal treatment is the safest treatment on earth and it does not possess any side effects whatsoever. However, this mindset is not right because herbal or no herbal, medicines are always capable of producing side effects, especially when you misuse them. 

Herbal treatments are indeed safer than allopathic treatments, but it doesn’t mean that they are completely free from side effects. When you combine these two treatments together, the chances of side effects increase. 

What is valerian root and how does it work? 

Valerian root is the root of valerian plant or Valeriana officinalis. This plant is native to Asia, North America, and Europe. It has different colored flowers including pink, purple or white flowers. It is known for producing sedative and relaxing effects and can help cure insomnia. 

The mechanism of action through it works is still unknown, but some researchers believe that valerian root may increase the amounts of GABA, or gamma aminobutyric acid.

It is an inhibitory neurotransmitter which slows down our brain, decreases neuronal activity and helps us get relaxed and sleepy. This effect of valerian root is similar to the effects produced by the most commonly used anti-anxiety meds called benzodiazepines. 

Several research studies have worked on herbal medicine. A 2006 study gained data from various case studies and concluded that the extract of valerian root can be used to cure insomnia. The same study also ensured the safety of this herbal medicine, when used alone. 

Another 2020 research overview revealed that valerian root can be used for relaxation and sedation but the effects of its extracts were variable. The researchers suggest that it could be a result of different qualities of the extract and the concentration of active ingredients in it. 

A 2010 study indicated that valerian roots have anti-anxiety properties because of its possible mechanism of action. 

Another 2019 study monitored the effects of this herbal supplement and came to the conclusion that 300 mg of valerian root extract can change the connectivity of your brain. 

There are several other studies indicating the exact same thing, but as stated earlier, it produces several different effects on people.

Does valerian root produce side effects? 

Valerian root extract is recognized as safe by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but it can still cause some unwanted side effects in various individuals. Common side effects may include:

  • Lightheadedness 
  • Headaches 
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea with or without vomiting 
  • Flatulence or bloating 
  • Restlessness 

What is prozac and how does it work? 

Prozac, brand name for fluoxetine, is an antidepressant which belongs to the class of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Prozac actively inhibits the reuptake of serotonin from the synaptic cleft back to the presynaptic neuron by blocking serotonin transporters (SERT). 

This results in an increased amount of serotonin in the body, which is an excitatory neurotransmitter responsible for modulating mood, cognition, reward, learning, memory, and various other psychological processes. 

Side effects of prozac 

Common side effects of prozac include:

  • Restlessness 
  • Anxiety 
  • Drowsiness 
  • Dizziness 
  • Skin rash
  • Muscular pain
  • Joint pain
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting 
  • Tiredness 
  • Sweating 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Loss of sexual desire 

Prozac is also associated with some serious side effects, which often require immediate medical attention. These include:

  • Allergic reaction associated with symptoms like redness of skin, itching, burning sensation, blisters, blue-purple patches, tightness of chest, wheezing, difficulty in breathing, hoarseness etc. 
  • Convulsions 
  • Dark grey-brown colored vomiting
  • Tarry or bloody stools
  • Eye problems including pain, swelling, redness, vision changes etc. 
  • Abnormal mood changes including, excitement following by sudden sadness, erratic behaviour, paranoia etc
  • Kidney function abnormalities, including severe pain, elevation of serum creatinine, difference in urine output and colour, blood urea nitrogen levels etc. 
  • Suicidal behavior 
  • Excessive muscle tremors 

What are the important precautions for the combined use of Valerian root and Prozac? 

Immediately talk to your healthcare provider if you experience unusual side effects while taking valerian root and prozac together. Do not recommend this combination to someone else and use it as long as your doctor has advised. 

Inform your doctor if you’re pregnant, trying to conceive. The safety of valerian root is not determined yet so it’s not safe to say that it can be used in pregnant women along with their prozac. 

However, prozac can also be dangerous for the fetus, especially when used in the third trimester. Several studies have observed side effects of prozac in some newborns. 

Inform your doctor if you’re a breastfeeding mother. Prozac is capable of passing into the breastmilk and may cause side effects in newborns. The safety of valerian root is unknown and it has not been determined whether this herbal medicine is capable of passing into the breastmilk or not. 

Prozac may induce suicidal behavior in users younger than 24 years of age. If you have someone who shows suicidal behavior or you see hopelessness in them, make sure you keep an eye on them and get medical attention as soon as you can. 

Do not stop Prozac abruptly. If it’s time for you to stop your antidepressant, your doctor will simply recommend a taper schedule for you, which should be followed vigilantly if you wish to keep withdrawal symptoms at bay. 

However, the ability of valerian root causing withdrawal symptoms is still unknown. Usually, the drugs that can alter the amounts of different neurotransmitters in your brain can also make you go through withdrawal symptoms if you stop them abruptly. 

As discussed earlier, valerian root can increase the amount of GABA, so it is recommended not to stop using it altogether. There’s a reason why they say ‘Prevention is better than cure’.

Make sure you report any problems with bleeding or bruising to your doctor. If you see any unexplained blisters or rashes on your body, or experience any problems with urination, or if you feel changes in your vision, immediately report to your healthcare provider. 

If this combination seems to work for someone else you know, it doesn’t ensure that it will work in the exact same way for you. 

Conclusion 

In this blog, we have discussed the possible interactions between valerian root and prozac. This combination may interact with each other and cause side effects like increased sedation, mental confusion and inability to differentiate between reality and imagination. 

However, these effects are not common at lower doses, but as both of these meds can cause sedation, this could happen. It is also important to bear in mind that no medicine, either alone or paired with another one, can cause the exact same effects in every other individual. 

Herbal treatments are indeed safer than allopathic treatment, but it doesn’t mean that they are free from side effects. When you combine these two treatments together, the chances of side effects increase. 

Just make sure you ask your healthcare provider before you start using any other medication, whether herbal or allopathic, with your antidepressant. If this combination seems to work for someone else you know, it doesn’t ensure that it will work in the exact same way for you. 

FAQs: Valerian root and Prozac

Can you take valerian root and antidepressants? 

It’s best to ask your doctor before you start taking any medication with your antidepressant. The Valerian root and prozac may interact with each other and cause side effects like increased sedation, mental confusion and inability to differentiate between reality and imagination. However, these effects are not common at lower doses, but as both of these meds can cause sedation, this could happen. 

What supplements should you not take with Prozac?

It is not safe to take the following with prozac:

  • Tyramine supplements or Tyramine rich foods
  • Tryptophan or tryptophan rich foods
  • 5-HTP
  • St. John’s wort
  • Cannabis 
  • Cranberry juice 
  • Green tea
  • Controlled substances 
  • Alcohol 

What medications should not be taken with valerian root?

Valerian root may enhance the effects of the following medications:

  • Benzodiazepines include diazepam, alprazolam, lorazepam, and clonazepam. 
  • Barbiturates 
  • Drugs to treat epileptic seizures including sodium valproate, phenytoin etc. 
  • Antidepressants, especially tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs). 

What drugs interact with Prozac?

  • Monoaminoxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). The combination use can increase the risk of serotonin syndrome. 
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). The combination use can increase the risk of bleeding. 
  • Pimozide. The concomitant use can increase the plasma concentration(availability of a drug in the blood) of pimozide to much higher levels. It can result in life-threatening arrhythmia.
  • Controlled substances, including all narcotic analgesics. The concomitant use can cause severe psychological side effects. 
  • Mood stabilisers 
  • Alcohol 

Why should you not take Prozac?

You should not take prozac if you’re allergic to the active ingredient fluoxetine or any other excipient present in the formulation of prozac. Allergic reactions are usually associated with symptoms like redness of skin, itching, burning sensation, blisters, blue-purple patches, tightness of chest, wheezing, difficulty in breathing, hoarseness etc. 

Is valerian root like Xanax?

Xanax and Valerian Root produce similar effects. The valerian root may increase the amounts of GABA, or gamma aminobutyric acid. It is an inhibitory neurotransmitter which slows down our brain, decreases neuronal activity and helps us get relaxed and sleepy. This effect of valerian root is similar to the effects produced by the most commonly used anti-anxiety meds called benzodiazepines. 

References 

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