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Beta-Adrenergic Blockers

Also indexed as: Betagan, Brevibloc, Carteolol, Cartrol, Esmolol, Levatol, Levobunolol, Metipranolol, Nebivolol, Ocupress, OptiPranolol, Oxprenolol, Penbutolol, Pindolol, Visken

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Beta-adrenergic blockers or “beta blockers” are a family of drugs 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.

Summary of Interactions with Vitamins, Herbs, and Foods
In some cases, an herb or supplement may appear in more than one category, which may seem contradictory. For clarification, read the full article for details about the summarized interactions.

Avoid Avoid: Adverse interaction—Avoid these supplements when taking this medication because taking them together may cause undesirable or dangerous results.

High-potassium foods

Pleurisy root

Potassium supplements

Depletion or interference

None known

Side effect reduction/prevention

None known

Supportive interaction

None known

Reduced drug absorption/bioavailability

None known

Interactions common to many, if not all, Beta-Adrenergic Blockers are described in this article. Interactions reported for only one or several drugs in this class may not be listed in this article. Some drugs listed in this article are linked to articles specific to that respective drug; please refer to those individual drug articles. The information in this article may not necessarily apply to drugs in this class for which no separate article exists. If you are taking a Beta-Adrenergic Blocker for which no separate article exists, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

An asterisk (*) next to an item in the summary indicates that the interaction is supported only by weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.

Interactions that are common to all beta-adrenergic blockers are described below. For interactions involving a specific beta-adrenergic blocker, refer to the highlighted drugs listed below.

Oral forms

Ophthalmic forms

  • Betaxolol (Betoptic®)
  • Carteolol (Ocupress®)
  • Levobunolol (Betagan®)
  • Metipranolol (OptiPranolol®)
  • Timolol (Timoptic®)

Interactions with Dietary Supplements

Potassium
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.

Interactions with Herbs

Pleurisy root
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

References:

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.

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