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St John's wort

St John's wort is a traditional herbal remedy used to relieve the symptoms of slightly low mood and mild anxiety. It is also used to relieve the symptoms of menopause, including hot flushes, night sweats, slightly low mood and anxiety.

St John's wort is registered by the medicines regulatory body, the MHRA.

The registration is based purely on traditional usage and manufacturing standards rather than clinical evidence that any herbal therapy works.

St John's wort may reduce the effectiveness of several medicines, including some heart disease medications and hormonal contraceptives, including the Pill and contraceptive implants.

The MHRA received 15 reports of unplanned pregnancies that are suspected to be linked to St John's wort and hormonal contraceptives between 2000 and 2013.

Always talk to your doctor about all the medications you are taking, including herbal remedies.

What is St John's wort?

St John's wort is a wild yellow flower. It has been used for medical purposes in parts of the world for thousands of years. Today, St John's wort is continually being studied to try to validate its possible mood-improving benefits.

Many clinical studies have been conducted over the years to evaluate the effectiveness of St John's wort. While the true benefits of St John's wort are still being explored, if you do choose to use it, be sure to learn all you can and check with your doctor before taking it.

Is there scientific evidence that supports the use of St John's wort for depression?

There is some scientific evidence that St John's wort is helpful in treating mild to moderate depression. Research into whether it can help with severe depression has produced mixed results and more research is needed before firm conclusions can be made.

How do I take St John's wort?

Follow the directions on the packet making sure you read the information leaflet first.

What should I watch for if I take St John's wort?

You should be alert for any of the following effects if you are taking St John's wort:

What precautions should I take with St John's wort?

Herbal therapies are not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women, children, the elderly, or those with compromised immune systems. In addition, some herbs have sedative or blood-thinning qualities. Consequently, they may interact dangerously with NSAIDs or other pain medications. Others may cause gastrointestinal upset if taken in large doses.

Research has shown that St John's wort may reduce the effectiveness of several medicines, including birth control pills and some heart disease medications. Talk to your doctor about all the medications you are taking.

Always tell your doctor if you are taking St John's wort or any other herbal product.

What other precautions should I take with herbal remedies?

Here are additional precautions you need to take to increase the safety of using herbal remedies:

  • Discuss any medicines you use, including herbal products, with your doctor.
  • If you experience side effects such as nausea, vomiting, rapid heartbeat, anxiety, insomnia, diarrhoea, or skin rashes, stop taking the herbal product and seek medical advice.
  • Avoid preparations made with more than one herb.
  • Beware of commercial claims of what herbal products can do. Look for the MHRA Traditional Herbal Remedy logo on packets to ensure high quality standards.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on February 17, 2016

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