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Are You Taking St. John's Wort?

St. John's wort is an herbal preparation commonly used to self-treat mild depression or simply as a mood elevator.† It is estimated that one out of every five people taking prescription anti-depressants are also taking St. John's wort with the hopes of further improvement, thinking "if a little is good, a lot is better".† Not so, according to a recent study (presented at the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists meeting, 2000):† on the contrary, using St. John's wort may actually decrease the effectiveness of prescription antidepressants.† This study also showed that many other prescription and over-the-counter medications become less effective or even ineffective when combined with St. John's wort. . And birth control pills are one glaring example.† Also at risk are people taking heart medications, sedatives, and AIDS medications.

Many people who take St. John's Wort are not aware that it has side effects, just like any other medication.† An important summer warning: If you take St. John's wort, avoid prolonged exposure to sunlight. St. John's wort may increase the sensitivity of your skin to the sun.

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Created: 6/12/2001  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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