St. John's Wort: Be Aware

| May/June 2000

  • St. John’s wort is generally safe, but use caution when taking certain medications.

On February 10, the newspapers were buzzing about new pieces of research involving St. John’s wort. Headlines read, “Two studies fault St. John’s wort”; “Popular herb becomes target of warning”; and “FDA cautions about St. John’s wort.”

Causing all the hype were two small samples, of eight and two people respectively, which found that St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) may interfere with drugs used to treat HIV patients and people who have had heart transplants.

“The mass media is quick to jump on any negative tidbit they can get on an herb,” says Steven Foster, Herbs for Health lead editorial adviser and author of 101 Medicinal Herbs (Interweave Press, 1998).

However, Foster and other herbalists were not surprised by the findings.

Mark Blumenthal, executive director of the American Botanical Council and an Herbs for Health adviser, says other data has been published prior to these studies that backs up theories that St. John’s wort affects drug metabolism.

“It’s inevitable to get new reports of drug interactions that could not have been predicted in clinical studies, because more people in the general population are now taking St. John’s wort,” says Blumenthal. “We’re probably going to see even more interactions in the future.”

7/29/2016 4:03:55 AM

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