Natural Supplements - New warnings are emerging about the use of Saint John’s Wort, the natural supplement that is now widely used in Canada to alleviate mild depression. Although most experts agree that Saint John’s Wort is safe when taken on its own, some are warning of its potential to interact with several drugs.
Research dating back to 1998 warned that Saint John’s Wort could interfere with a variety of medications, and last spring, further evidence for such interactions was presented at the Annual Congress for Clinical Pharmacology in Berlin.
This research indicated that Saint John's Wort interferes with the heart drug digoxin and the blood-thinning drug warfarin (Coumadin). Since even slight changes in the activity of these two drugs could have serious health consequences, potential interactions with Saint John's Wort are particularly worrisome.
Other research indicates that Saint John's Wort can interfere with the protease inhibitors used for treatment of HIV infection, cyclosporine, and oral contraceptives.
"I recommend that individuals taking any medication critical to their health should avoid using Saint John's Wort except on physician advice," says Steven Bratman, M.D., Medical Director for The Natural Pharmacist, an informational website. "This new information reminds us that 'safe natural products' are not always entirely safe. Harmful drug interactions are probably the most likely area for problems to develop."
The doctor offers sage advice. If you’re taking Saint John’s Wort along with other medications, it’s best to ask your own doctor for their advice on possible interactions.