Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier
WebMD

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine
WebMD

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion
    WebMD

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community
    WebMD

    Community

    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Depression Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

St. John's Wort Interferes With Lifesaving Drugs

By
WebMD Health News

Feb. 10, 2000 (Atlanta) -- The FDA on Thursday warned physicians that St. John's wort, a commonly used herbal remedy, dangerously interferes with a long list of prescription drugs. The action comes after two reports in the British medical journal The Lancet linking the herb to heart-transplant rejection and to HIV drug failure.

The FDA warning goes far beyond these two drugs. Because the herb appears to interfere with the way the body processes many drugs, the FDA advises physicians against using St. John's wort (also known as Hypericum perforatum) with a long list of medications. These include a wide range of drugs used to treat conditions such as HIV infection, heart disease, seizure, high blood pressure, and cancer. They also affect oral contraceptives and drugs used to prevent transplant rejection. People taking any of these medications are advised to consult their physicians before using products containing St. John's wort.

Even more drugs may be affected. WebMD has learned that St. John's wort also appears to speed the action of an intestinal protein that clears drugs out of the body. One of these drugs is the heart drug digoxin. Inadequate levels of digoxin may lead to serious elevations in heart rate or inability of the drug to improve heart function.

Although the new studies -- and the FDA warning -- apply only to St. John's wort, Georg Noll, MD, co-author of one of the reports, tells WebMD that other herbal remedies may be far less safe than commonly assumed. "Many doctors and patients are not aware that these herbal drugs you can buy over the counter are dangerous, as they can interact with other medications," says Noll, a cardiologist at University Hospital in Zurich, Switzerland. "I tell patients they shouldn't take any over-the-counter drug without informing the treating doctor."

Stephen C. Piscitelli, PharmD, lead author of the other study, tells WebMD that there is a dark side to the benefits of these natural products. "I think it's clear that herbal remedies do have pharmacological effects, but clearly there can be dangers as well," he says. "No physician really asks about [St. John's wort] when they are doing a history, and patients assume that if it is an herbal remedy, it must be safe."

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

contemplation
Differences between feeling depressed and feeling blue.
jk rowling
Famous people who've struggled with persistent sadness.
 
depressed man sitting on hallway floor
Learn the truth about this serious illness.
Sad woman looking out of the window
Tips to stay the treatment course.
 
unhappy teen boy
Health Check
jk rowling
Slideshow
 
Pills with smiley faces
Article
Teen girl huddled outside house
Article
 
Depressed man sitting in hospital hallway
Article
antidepressants slideshow
Article
 
pill bottle
Article
Winding path
Article