The Basics: St. John's Wort | WebMD
St. John's Wort
What is St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum)?
St. John's wort is the common name for Hypericum perforatum, an herbal supplement.
It has many uses, though not all are supported by research, and use of the supplement remains controversial.
Some people use St. John's wort directly on the skin to treat bruises, sprains, and wounds, or take it by mouth in an effort to boost immunity.
Its most common use in the United States is to relieve depression and anxiety.
Although the fruit, flowers, and leaves of the herb may have medicinal properties, most benefits are attributed to the compounds hypericin and pseudohypericin, found in the plant's flowers and leaves.
St. John's Wort Warnings
You should not take St. John's wort if you're allergic to it or any herbs in the Hypericeae family.
If you're thinking about suicide or have attempted suicide in the past, you shouldn't take St. John's wort.
Also, ask your doctor about St. John's wort if you have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dementia, or memory problems, since this herbal supplement may make these conditions worse.
If you're taking methylphenidate (Daytrana, Concerta, Methylin, Ritalin), avoid taking St. John's wort.
Pregnancy and St. John's wort
St. John's wort hasn't been well studied in pregnant or breastfeeding women.
Therefore, you should talk to your doctor about taking it if you're pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding.
St. John's Wort Side Effects
Although St. John's wort is generally considered safe when consumed in reasonable doses, the herb may cause uncomfortable allergic skin reactions in some people.
Allergic reactions include sensitivity to light, skin rash, and inflammation of your mucous membranes.
Side Effects of St. John's Wort
- Difficulty sleeping
- Dry mouth
- Skin sensitivity, including tingling or prickliness
Some experts believe the risk of side effects increases if you take St. John's wort for a long period of time.
St. John's Wort Interactions
Tell your doctor and pharmacist all the medications you're taking.
This includes prescriptions and over-the-counter (OTC) medications, vitamins and other dietary supplements (nutritional shakes, protein powders, etc.), herbal remedies, and illegal and recreational drugs.
St. John's wort interacts with many different prescription and OTC drugs.
It often causes the liver to break down drugs quickly from the body, reducing their effects.
This is especially true with drugs that the liver processes in the same way that it breaks down St. John's wort.
These drugs include:
St. John's wort may enhance the effects of blood thinners, so don't use it if you're taking drugs such as warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven), enoxaparin (Lovenox), or dabigatran (Pradaxa).
St. John's wort lessens the effectiveness of oral contraceptives, so if you are taking birth control pills, consider also using a barrier contraceptive while you are taking this herb.
St. John's Wort and Alcohol
Drinking alcohol could enhance the relaxation and sleep-promoting effects of St. John's wort.
You might want to avoid drinking alcohol while taking St. John's wort.
St. John's Wort Dosage
You can purchase St. John's wort as a tea and as pills, capsules, lotions, and extracts.
Consult with your doctor to find the formulation and dose that works best for you.
St. John's wort Overdose
If you think you have taken too much St. John's wort, call 911 or your local poison control center (800) 222-1222 right away.
Missed Dose of St. John's Wort
If you miss a dose of St. John's wort, try to take it as soon as you remember.
If it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and take your next dose at the regular time. Don't double your dose.
Video: 6 Top Benefits of St Johns Wort
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