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   May 22

Chemist Direct investigates warnings against St John’s wort by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to those using hormonal contraceptives

A popular plant that originally grew primarily in Europe before spreading all over the world is the yellow hedgerow known as St. John’s wort. Considered in many countries as simply a weed, this plant has actually been in use for thousands of years as an herbal medicine to treat a wide range of maladies. The European market for the product is said to be worth around £3.75billion a year with an estimated two million people in the United Kingdom regularly using St. John’s wort.

St. John’s wort is prescribed as a natural remedy for mild depression and related conditions such as insomnia, loss of appetite, anxiety and fatigue. It is also recommended for heart palpitations, moodiness and other symptoms of menopause, and is used by some naturopaths for mild cases of neurological ailments such as attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Combined with other herbs St. John’s wort has been included in treatments to help those who are quitting smoking, certain cases of fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), migraine and other types of headaches, muscle pain, nerve pain, and irritable bowel syndrome. It is also used for cancer, HIV/AIDS, and hepatitis C. St John’s wort also has fewer side effects than prescription drugs with people who were taking it less likely to experience symptoms such as a dry mouth, sweating and dizziness. However, research suggests that it can interact with other, conventional medications.

Studies have suggested it can block the effects of medication taken by heart transplant patients to stop their organs being rejected. The Swedish drugs authority said the herb reduced the effects of several drugs by increasing the number of enzymes in the body which break down medicinal substances. The agency said the herb’s effects may last for two weeks after use and recommended that people taking it at the same time as a drug should consult their doctor. Two years ago, the UK government advised women on the Pill who were also taking St John’s wort to stop immediately. http://dailym.ai/1j4slev

In the last six months the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has received two reports of suspected interaction leading to unplanned pregnancies. The risk applies to the combined and progesterone-only pill and contraceptive implants like Implanon. It is unclear about the coil. The MHRA says there is no data to judge. Since 2000, the MHRA has logged 19 suspected interactions with hormonal contraceptives – 15 resulting in an unplanned pregnancy and four in irregular menstrual bleeds. http://bit.ly/1naKEHh

France has banned the use of St. John’s wort products. The ban appears to be based on a report issued by the French Health Product Safety Agency warning of significant interactions between St. John’s wort and some medications. Several other countries, including Japan, the United Kingdom, and Canada, are in the process of including drug-herb interaction warnings on St. John’s wort products. http://1.usa.gov/1d1aW9p

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/05/prweb11868953.htm

Read more: http://m.digitaljournal.com/pr/1932746#ixzz32Py2TSHs

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