Complementary Medicine - Cam
St. John’s Wort for Weight Control
St. John’s Wort
Why Do Dieters Use It?*
Some dieters say that St. John’s wort helps improve energy and alertness and relieves stress and anxiety.
What Do the Advocates Say?*
St. John’s wort is well established as a remedy for mild to moderate depression. Since depression can lead to weight gain, and since medications with actions similar to that of St. John’s wort have been used for weight loss, some people have proposed that St. John’s wort can be useful for weight loss. However, no research at all has investigated whether St. John’s wort has any value for this purpose.
*Dieters and weight-management advocates may claim benefits for this supplement based on their personal or professional experience. These are individual opinions and testimonials that may or may not be supported by controlled clinical studies or published scientific articles.
Dosage & Side Effects
St. John’s Wort
How Much Is Usually Taken by Dieters?
The standard recommendation for mild to moderate depression is 500 to 1,050 mg of St. John’s wort extract per day.1 , 2 , 3 Length of use should be discussed with a healthcare professional.
St. John’s wort has a low incidence of side effects compared to prescription antidepressants. An adverse events profile of St. John’s wort found that, of 14 controlled clinical trials, seven reported no adverse reactions, two had no information, and five reported a total of seven mild reactions.4 Adverse effects reported included stomach upset, fatigue, itching, sleep disturbance, and skin rash. The rate of adverse reactions was always similar to that of the placebo. Additionally, in seven trials comparing St. John’s wort with other antidepressants, the adverse reaction rate for St. John’s wort was consistently lower than that of the antidepressant drugs with which it was compared.
St. John’s wort can make the skin more sensitive to sunlight.5 Therefore, fair-skinned people should be alert for any rashes or burns following exposure to the sun. Three cases of severe blistering and burns were reported in people taking St. John’s wort internally or applying it topically and then being exposed to sunlight.6 There is a case report of a woman experiencing neuropathy (nerve injury and pain) in sun-exposed skin areas after taking 500 mg of whole St. John’s wort for four weeks.7 Although St. John’s wort has photosensitizing properties, the severity of this reaction is not typical for people taking the herb.
People with a history of manic-depressive illness ( bipolar disorder ) or a less severe condition known as hypomania, should avoid use of St. John’s wort as it may trigger a manic episode.8 , 9 , 10 , 11
There is a single case report in which ingestion of St. John's wort appeared to cause high blood pressure in a 56-year-old man. The blood pressure returned to normal when the herb was discontinued.12
Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds
Caution: It is likely that there are many drug interactions with St. John's wort that have not yet been identified. St. John's wort stimulates a drug-metabolizing enzyme (cytochrome P450 3A4) that metabolizes at least 50% of the drugs on the market.13 Therefore, it could potentially cause a number of drug interactions that have not yet been reported. People taking any medication should consult with a doctor or pharmacist before taking St. John's wort.
Interactions with Medicines
Certain medicines interact with this supplement.
Types of interactions: Beneficial Adverse Check
Replenish Depleted Nutrients
Reduce Side Effects
Potential Negative Interaction
St. John’s Wort
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Last Review: 02-05-2013
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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2014.
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