Questions About Taking A Supplement Containing Irish Moss With Birth Control

In our latest question and answer, our pharmacist discusses the safety of combining an Irish sea moss supplement with birth control.

Question

I have a supplement pill that contains Irish Moss, Burdock root, and Bladderwrack. I take a birth control pill daily, and I want to be sure that there are no interactions between these two. Thank you.

Asked by Tia On Apr 04, 2023

Answered by
Medical Content Reviewed By HelloPharmacist Staff

Published Apr 04, 2023
Last updated Jul 10, 2024

Key points

  • None of the ingredients in the supplement (Irish sea moss, bladderwrack, burdock root) are known to interact with oral contraceptives, however, data is limited.

Answer

Thanks for reaching out! I'm more than happy to answer this for you.

So, your supplement contains two different types of seaweed (i.e., algae) and a plant:

The first two, Irish sea moss and bladderwrack, are typically used in dietary supplements as a source of iodine and other phytonutrients. Many of these phytonutrients are purported to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and immune-boosting effects.

Burdock root supplements are purported to have a variety of health benefits, including supporting liver function, promoting healthy skin, improving digestion, and supporting healthy blood sugar levels.

Studies show that burdock contains a large number of different constituents (e.g., arctigenin, arctiin, beta-eudesmol, caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid, diarctigenin, inulin, lappaol, tannin, trachelogenin, and sitosterol-beta-D-glucopyranoside), all of which are purported to play a part in its medicinal effects.

Are Irish Seamoss, BladderWrack & Burdock Safe With Oral Contraceptives (i.e., Birth Control)?

There certainly are natural supplements and herbals that are reported to have potential interactions with birth control pills (e.g., Guggul, etc...), so it is always important to check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking anything new.

The good news here is that none of the ingredients in your supplement (Irish sea moss, Bladderwrack, Burdock root) are known to interact with birth control pills or otherwise have any effect on sex hormones.

I do believe it is important to note that excessive iodine consumption (remember that Irish sea moss and Bladderwrack are high in iodine) could theoretically alter thyroid hormone concentrations, which could, in theory, cause changes to a woman's menstrual cycle.

However, it would be very unlikely that taking recommended doses of a supplement containing iodine would cause problems, but this is nevertheless important to be aware of.

What Do They Interact With?

Irish sea moss and bladderwrack have few reported interactions.

Mainly, they could potentially interact with any drug that is affected by increased exposure to iodine, since both of those are iodine rich. An example that comes to mind is thyroid hormone drugs (e.g., levothyroxine).

Bladderwrack does have quite a number of interactions listed (you can see these by going to our individual herbal interaction page for bladderwrack, which is hyperlinked above), but most are considered minor and relatively insignificant.

Burdock, similarly, has very few potential interactions, and they are mainly with blood-thinning drugs due to some studies showing it can have blood-thinning effects.

Overall though, as mentioned, none of the herbal ingredients in your supplement are known to affect birth control pills in any way.

Final Words

I hope you found this helpful!

Before ending here, I always like to point out that when it comes to interactions with natural products, it can often be difficult to definitively know their safety when combined with certain drugs simply based on the lack of published data.

Nevertheless, there is nothing to suggest an interaction in your case.

As always, be sure to let your doctor know about everything you are taking prior to making any changes to your medication regimen.

References

  • An Overview to the Health Benefits of Seaweeds Consumption, PubMed
  • Comparison of Nutritional and Nutraceutical Properties of Burdock Roots Cultivated in Fengxian and Peixian of China, PubMed

About the Pharmacist

Dr. Brian Staiger, PharmD

Dr. Brian has been practicing pharmacy for over 13 years and has wide-ranging experiences in many different areas of the profession. From retail, clinical, program development, and administrative responsibilities, he's your knowledgeable and go-to source for all your pharmacy and medication-related questions! Dr. Brian Staiger also has herbalist training and educational certificates in the field of medical ethnobotany. Feel free to send him an email at [email protected]! You can also connect with Dr. Brian Staiger on LinkedIn.

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