St. John’s Wort is considered as an alternative to the mainstream antidepressants and it is one of the herbal treatments used in the United States for depressive disorders, anxiety, over thinking, mental fatigue and mental stress.
It is also beneficial for symptoms associated with depression including loss of appetite, tiredness, lack of enthusiasm and trouble sleeping. Many people prefer using St. John’s Wort for insomnia, due to its efficacy and safety as compared to Modern medicines.
There are many strong scientific evidences that suggest its effectiveness in mild to moderate depression.
However, St. John’s Wort is an effective herb for depression and associated symptoms, but it should not be taken along with prescription drugs.
According to a study conducted by scientists at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, it can be dangerous when taken with prescription drugs.
St. John’s Wort can result in treatment failure and impaired effectiveness when it is taken along with oral contraceptives, chemotherapy, antihypertensive medicines, blood thinners etc., according to the researchers. It can influence the concentration of these drugs in the body. Generally, the study suggests it reduces the concentration of oral contraceptives, antihypertensive drugs and blood thinners, which leads to the failure of mainstream medicines.
“Natural treatments can also be unsafe”, according to Dr. Sarah Taylor, M.D., lead author of the study and assistant profession of dermatology at Wake Forest Baptist Medical center. She further said, “All physicians should know the interaction dangers with the herbal products of conventional medicines and they should communicate with patients regarding the use of herbs along with modern medicines“.
Modern medicines should be avoided along with herbal treatment or patients should consult with their family physician before using herbs with conventional medicines.
“Furthermore, patients can also consult herbal specialist and experts on alternative medicines rather than using the herbs without any professional advice”, researchers added.
The team analyzed the data collected by the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey from 1993 to 2010 for the determination of the use of St. John’s wort along with common prescription drugs. The team has reported that 28 percent prescriptions of modern medicines with St. John’s wort were potentially harmful. This retrospective analysis was published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.
Serotonin syndrome is a possible drug interaction with St. John’s wort. In this syndrome, high levels of serotonin accumulate in the body. Mild symptoms such rapid heart rate, shivering, tremor, twitching, dilated pupils and sweating may occur.
Other problems may include impaired efficacy of high blood pressure medications and contraceptive failure may result in unplanned pregnancy. Although, further researches are required to evaluate the results of the study, but the information of possible drug interaction should be printed on the label for such helpful supplements.
France has banned the use of St. John’s wort along with prescription drugs. Canada, Japan and United Kingdom government advise including drug interaction information on the label of St. John’s wort products.
St. John’s wort when used alone may not cause such effects. It can help with physical exhaustion, fibromyalgia, migraine, chronic fatigue syndrome, muscle cramps, headache and irritable bowel syndrome, according to the various studies conducted on the efficacy and safety of the St. John’s wort.