St. John's Wort

St. John’s Wort

St. John’s wort is a plant with yellow flowers that has been used in traditional European medicine as far back as the ancient Greeks. The name refers to John the Baptist, as the plant blooms around the time of the feast of St. John the Baptist in late June.

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St. John’s wort has been used for a variety of conditions, including kidney and lung ailments, insomnia and depression, and to aid wound healing.

› Health Benefits

There has been extensive research on the effectiveness of St. John’s wort, especially in depression, and on its interactions with medications. The results on studies involving usage for depression have been mixed.

Other studies have been done on using the plant for other conditions. With some conditions, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, irritable bowel syndrome and quitting smoking, evidence has shown that St. John’s wort is not helpful. Evidence is inconclusive on its use for menopausal symptoms, premenstrual syndrome and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

› How much do I need?

The dosage varies depending on age and what it is being used for. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels, and consult your pharmacist, physician or other healthcare professional before using.

St. John’s wort can weaken the effects of many medicines, including crucially important ones such as antidepressants, birth control pills, cyclosporine, digoxin, some HIV drugs, some cancer medications and warfarin. Taking St. John’s wort with certain antidepressants or other drugs that affect serotonin may lead to increased serotonin-related side effects, which may be potentially serious. It may also cause increased sensitivity to sunlight. Other side effects include anxiety, dry mouth, dizziness, gastrointestinal symptoms, fatigue, headache or sexual dysfunction.

It is especially crucial to talk to your doctor about taking St. John’s wort because of its interactions with so many medications.

› Dietary supplements

St. John’s wort is available in liquids, tablets and capsules.

Source: National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

Please consult your health care provider before making changes to your vitamin/supplement regimen.

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