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St. Johns Wort & Prescription Medicine A Potentially Dangerous Mix

St. Johns Wort & Prescription Medicine A Potentially Dangerous Mix

Many herbal remedies could cause a toxic reaction when combined with other prescription or over-the-counter medicines.

Newswise — Herbal remedy users may wrongly assume that their “natural” product cannot harm them. However, physicians need to know about even the occasional use of such products by their patients. Many herbal remedies could cause a toxic reaction when combined with other prescription or over-the-counter medicines. According to toxicologists at the UVa Health System Blue Ridge Poison Center, St. Johns Wort is one of the most common herbal products reported to cause herb-drug interactions.

St. John’s Wort (hypericum perforatum) is a perennial shrub with golden flowers that bloom in June. Ancient Greek physicians prescribed it for a variety of medical problems. Colonists brought it to North America, and today it grows prolifically in the wild.

St. John’s Wort is reported to be useful in the treatment of depression, anxiety, insomnia, inflammatory bowel disease, and substance abuse, among other disorders. It is said to have anti-cancer and anti-viral properties, and act as a balm in the healing of skin wounds or burns. However, efforts by the National Institute of Health and other groups to prove these claims have resulted in questionable and often-debated results. In fact, research has shown that St. John’s Wort may reduce the effectiveness of prescription drugs for heart disease, depression, seizures, certain cancers or other medications. These include:

• Digoxin
• Warfarin
• Methadone
• Verapamil
• Cyclosporine
• Theophylline
• Amitriptyline
• Midazolam
• Alprazolam
• Fexofenadine
• Omeprazole
• Nevirapine
• Imatinib
• Indinavir
• Irinotecan
• Certain immunosuppressive drugs used after an organ transplant
• Birth control pills

A 1994 federal law removed dietary supplements, like herbs, from FDA control. Therefore, consumers are unlikely to receive information about any potential drug interactions or other harmful side effects from a seller of herbal products. It is dangerous to assume that something marketed as “natural” is always safe. Keep your doctor informed about every herbal product you use.

The Blue Ridge Poison Center at the UVa Health System can provide free, confidential advice about medications and are open 24 hours. Call 1-800-222-1222 for specific consumer information regarding drug interactions. Cell users call 1-800-451-1428.

Source: University of Virginia Health System Released: Tue 10-Jan-2006, 17:00 ET

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The Blue Ridge Poison Center at the UVa Health System can provide free, confidential advice about medications and are open 24 hours. Call 1-800-222-1222 for specific consumer information regarding drug interactions. Cell users call 1-800-451-1428.

Source: University of Virginia Health System Released: Tue 10-Jan-2006, 17:00 ET

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