Health23 Nov 2010 06:47 pm
St John’s Wort, also known as Tipton’s Weed, Chase-devil, or Klamath weed, refers (with a few exceptions) to any species of the genus Hypericum. A popular herbal treatment for depression, it also commonly used to relieve anxiety, tiredness, loss of appetite and trouble sleeping. Unlike many herbal supplements on the market, St. John’s Wort might actually make good on its claims: scientific evidence indicates that it can be effective in alleviating symptoms of mild to moderate depression.
The exact mechanism by which St John’s wort functions in the body is unclear and subject to conjecture. The St John’s wort mechanism is believed to involve inhibition of serotonin (5-HT) reuptake, much like the conventional selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants. However, unlike widely prescribed antidepressants such a Prozac and Zoloft, St. John’s wort is inexpensive, available over the counter and has fewer unpleasant side effects, with one major qualifier…..
Women with a lingering case of the blues shouldn’t run to their local GNC just yet. St. John’s wort has attracted the attention of the medical community in the past few years, following several case reports regarding potential interactions with prescription medications, notably birth control containing estrogen.
A 2002 report described eight women who experienced abnormal menstrual bleeding while taking St. John’s wort and oral contraceptive pills. However, only three of these women returned to a normal menstrual cycle after discontinuing the herb, indicating that other unidentified factors may have contributed to the abnormal menstrual changes. Even worse, taking St. John’s wort along with oral contraception can actually lessen its ability to prevent pregnancy.
It is unknown in both the previous and current reports whether St. John’s wort lowers blood levels of the hormones in birth control pills, or whether it interferes in some other way with the action of these hormones. Researchers think that it may activate enzymes in the liver responsible for breaking down certain drugs, thereby causing a decrease of the concentration of these drugs in the blood. If blood levels fall too low, the drug may fail to have the intended action.
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