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St. John's Wort Latin name: Hypericum perforatum , Other names: Amber, Goatweed, Hardhay, Klamath Weed, Tipton Weed.
What It Is; Why It Works
St. John's Wort is believed to combat depression by boosting the levels of certain chemical messengers in the brain. It works on two fronts. Like the prescription antidepressant Prozac, it seems to increase the amount of serotonin available to the nervous system. And like the "monoamine oxidase inhibitor" Nardil, it is thought to promote higher levels of dopamine and certain other chemical messengers.
St. John's Wort is a golden yellow perennial flower that secretes a red liquid when pinched. Cut at the start of the flowering season and processed in bunches, it must be dried quickly to preserve its oil and secretions.
This plant has been used medicinally for over 2,000 years. Ancient Greeks believed that its odor repelled evil spirits. Early Christians named the plant in honor of St. John the Baptist because they believed it released its blood-red oil on the 29th of August, the day the saint was beheaded.
There are no known reasons to avoid St. John's Wort at recommended dosage levels.
With heavy use, St. John's Wort increases sensitivity to sunlight. To avoid a sunburn, minimize your exposure to the sun while using this medication. This herb can also cause bloating and constipation.
Possible Drug Interactions:
Do not use St. John's Wort while taking a prescription MAO inhibitor such as Nardil or Parnate. At least in theory, a dangerous interaction is possible. If you are taking medications for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, it's best to avoid St. John's Wort. The herb is known to interfere with at least one HIV drug--Crixivan--and may reduce the effect of others, including Agenerase, Fortovase, Invirase, Norvir, and Viracept. St. John's Wort should also be avoided by people taking Neoral, a drug used to keep transplant patients from rejecting their new organs. It can inhibit the drug's life-saving effect.
Special Information If You Are Pregnant or Breastfeeding.
No harmful effects are known.
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