St. John's Wort Herbal Supplement Causes Dangerous Interactions With Real Medicine
    By News Staff | June 30th 2014 11:49 AM | 1 comment | Print | E-mail | Track Comments

    It's unclear why there is a natural medicine craze in the modern era. Real medicine was invented because natural medicine didn't help people. If natural medicine survived double-blind clinical trials, it became regular medicine.

    People taking St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum), the leading complementary and alternative treatment for depression in the United States, are not only gullible, they are putting themselves in danger if they take commonly prescribed drugs, according to a study by researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, because it can reduce the concentration of numerous drugs in the body, including oral contraceptive, blood thinners, cancer chemotherapy and blood pressure medications, resulting in impaired effectiveness and treatment failure.

    "Patients may have a false sense of safety with so-called 'natural' treatments like St. John's wort," said Sarah Taylor, M.D., assistant professor of dermatology at Wake Forest Baptist and lead author of the study. "And it is crucial for physicians to know the dangers of 'natural' treatments and to communicate the risks to patients effectively."

    St. John's Wort. It's not just an invasive species, it's dangerous pharmacologically too. Credit: State of Wisconsin

    To determine how often S. John's wort (SJW) was being prescribed or taken with other medications, the team conducted a retrospective analysis of nationally representative data collected by the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey from 1993 to 2010. The research team found the use of SJW in potentially harmful combinations in 28 percent of the cases reviewed.

    Possible drug interactions can include serotonin syndrome, a potentially fatal condition that causes high levels of the chemical serotonin to accumulate in your body, heart disease due to impaired efficacy of blood pressure medications or unplanned pregnancy due to contraceptive failure, Taylor said.

    Limitations of the study are that only medications recorded by the physician were analyzed. However, she said the rate of SJW interactions may actually be underestimated because the database did not include patients who were using SJW but did not tell their doctor.

    "Labeling requirements for helpful supplements such as St. John's wort need to provide appropriate cautions and risk information," Taylor said, adding that France has banned the use of St. John's wort products and several other countries, including Japan, the United Kingdom, and Canada, are in the process of including drug-herb interaction warnings on St. John's wort products.

    "Doctors also need to be trained to always ask if the patient is taking any supplements, vitamins, minerals or herbs, especially before prescribing any of the common drugs that might interact with St. John's wort."

     Published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, co-authors are Steven Feldman, M.D., and Scott Davis, M.A., of Wake Forest Baptist. Source: Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center


    I can understand why its "unclear" to you about the "natural medicine craze". Its not your expertise just as pharmacology would be a stretch for me. However, My teacher was a Chinese medicine doc and a chemist and required me to study both disciplines intensely. My prior learning required me to study pharmacology which gave me at least a novice understanding. There is a difference between the many different natural medicines. That difference is based on historical fact. Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine have been around for 3-5 thousand years. While in the US, the study is in shorter duration. Thus, the reason for quality and depth of formulation which can be discussed another time. Even if I studied Chinese medicine beyond the 22 years I have been studying/practicing, I would only be making a slight scratch on the first page of study. It is so vast that only current practitioners can put together a slightly intelligent argument in the face of the huge depository of incredible findings. I have found many conditions that "modern medicine" has not "cured" were resolved a long time ago.

    However, allopathic synthetic medicine, while only a little over 200 years old has made many strides and contributions to the health improvement of its patients starting with Sertürner's discovery of morphine and derivatives from opium. Incredible findings such as vaccines, penicillin, anesthetics, x-ray, ultrasound, aspirin, etc.

    As you know, experienced practitioners with extensive knowledge of their modality can do so much more for a client than a patient reading reading an article about a remedy and applying it themselves. A single herb application can be slightly effective. However, a complex formula that will have 4 tiers built into its structure with:
    1) 3-4 herbs that target the ailment directly
    2) 2-4 herbs that focus on optimizing the metabolization of the formula at the villi level
    3) 1-4 herbs that assist the transport of the target herbs from the villi to the target area
    4) 1-2 herbs that counteracts the slight toxicity created by the formula and assists the body towards homeostasis

    -will have a greater chance of effectiveness when the client has been adequately assessed for the underlying cause of their malady.

    I invite you to work with natural medicine practitioners in a complimentary manner rather than discounting their offering as "old school". We senior practitioners may have something to offer. I, certainly, have learned a lot from the allopathic medical profession when I have worked with them and I would like to think there was reciprocation. I also would add, there have been a good number of MDs who have come to me for solutions when their field was lacking answers.