St. John's Wort
What is it?
St. John's Wort is a herb worse flowers and leaves are used to make medications. It contains chemicals like hypericin and hyperforin which act on chemical messengers in the nervous system that regulate mood.
There are ongoing research conducted to prove that St. John's wort helps improves depression & somatization disorder, improves menopausal symptoms, improves psoriasis irritation if used topically on skin and also aids in wound healing when used topically.
More randomized controlled research studies need to be conducted to prove other proclaimed benefits.
Possible side effects
At normal dosing it is safe for most people when taken up to 12 weeks. Anything more or at higher doses it causes side effects like insomnia, vivid dreams, irritability, stomach upset, fatigue, restlessness, anxiety, dizziness, headache, dry mouth, skin rash, diarrhea, and tingling.
Pregnant and lactating woman should not take St. John's wort as there is no study on its safety in this group of patients.
Patients with other psychiatric disorder like bipolar disorder, ADHD, and schizophrenia should avoid St. john's Wort as it may worsen their condition.
St John's wort may also affect fertility hence for those trying to conceive it is best to avoid it.
St. John's wort should be stopped at least 2 weeks before surgery as it affects the serotonin in the brain and will affect anesthesia during surgery.
Psychiatric medications like xanax, MAOIs, amitriptyline, paroxetine, barbiturates and anti-depressants: St John's Wort increases the rate of breakdown of these medications and hence reduce it effectiveness.
Birth control pills, phenytoin, cyclosporin, digoxin, HIV medications, narcotic drugs : as st John's wort increases the break down of contraceptives, it will reduce its effectiveness.
Medications that increases sensitivity to sunlight (photosensitizing drugs): As St John's wort also increases the skin sensitivity to sunlight when used together with these drugs the side effects will be worse resulting in increased risk of burns, rash and blisters.
Anti-coagulants like plavix and wafarin: St john's wort increases the breakdown of these medications resulting in reduce effectiveness and increases chance of blood clotting.
Migraine medications like sumatriptan: St John's wort will increases the serotonin and increases the side effects of confusion, shivering, stiff muscles, and other side effects.
The recommended dosing for medically indicated conditions as according to scientific studies are: