More Patients May Be Taking St. John's Wort Than You Think
the MPR take:
St. John’s wort is frequently used as an alternative medicine in the treatment of depression, but it is also frequently used with prescribed medications that could lead to dangerous interactions. Published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, this research was conducted using data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey of nonfederal outpatient visits to physicians from 1993–2010. 2,230,000 visits mentioned Saint John’s wort and these visits had on average 3.1 other drugs mentioned. From these visits, 28% involved a drug that has the potential for a dangerous interaction with St. John’s wort, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, benzodiazepines, warfarin, statins, verapamil, digoxin, and oral contraceptives. Because the study did not include patients who failed to inform their physicians of their use of St. John’s wort, this percentage and the associated risks could be even greater. Physicians need to be educated on potential interactions between supplements and prescription medications and always ask patients about all supplements, herbs, vitamins, and minerals they are taking.
St. John's wort—the most frequently used alternative medicine for depression—reacts dangerously with many common medicines, but it turns out many people taking the supplement don't know that.
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