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Medications and Drugs

Brand Names:

Generic Name: St. John's wort (Pronunciation: SAINT JOHN'S WORT)

What is St. John's wort ()?

The use of St. John's wort in cultural and traditional settings may differ from concepts accepted by current Western medicine. When considering the use of herbal supplements, consultation with a primary health care professional is advisable. Additionally, consultation with a practitioner trained in the uses of herbal/health supplements may be beneficial, and coordination of treatment among all health care providers involved may be advantageous.

St. John's wort is also known as Hypericum perforatum, klamath weed, John's wort, amber touch-and-heal, goatweed, rosin rose, and milleperituis.

St. John's wort has been used in the treatment of anxiety, mild to moderate depression, stomach upset, insomnia, fluid retention, and hemorrhoids. St. John's wort has also been used topically in the treatment of nerve and muscle pain, skin inflammation, skin wounds, and burns.

St. John's wort has not been evaluated by the FDA for safety, effectiveness, or purity. All potential risks and/or advantages of St. John's wort may not be known. Additionally, there are no regulated manufacturing standards in place for these compounds. There have been instances where herbal/health supplements have been sold which were contaminated with toxic metals or other drugs. Herbal/health supplements should be purchased from a reliable source to minimize the risk of contamination.

St. John's wort may also have uses other than those listed in this medication guide.

What are the possible side effects of St. John's wort ()?

Although uncommon, allergic reactions to St. John's wort have been reported. Stop taking St. John's wort and seek emergency medical attention if you experience symptoms of a serious allergic reaction including difficulty breathing; closing of your throat; swelling of your lips, tongue, or face; or hives.

Other less serious side effects have been more frequently reported. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you experience

  • increased skin sensitivity to sunlight,
  • a rash,
  • a feeling of fullness in your stomach, or
  • constipation.

Side effects other than those listed here may also occur. Talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or health care provider about any side effect that seems unusual or that is especially bothersome. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What is the most important information I should know about St. John's wort ()?

Avoid prolonged exposure to sunlight. St. John's wort may increase the sensitivity of your skin to the sun. Use a sunscreen and wear protective clothing when exposure to the sun is unavoidable.

St. John's wort has not been evaluated by the FDA for safety, effectiveness, or purity. All potential risks and/or advantages of St. John's wort may not be known. Additionally, there are no regulated manufacturing standards in place for these compounds. There have been instances where herbal/health supplements have been sold which were contaminated with toxic metals or other drugs. Herbal/health supplements should be purchased from a reliable source to minimize the risk of contamination.

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Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

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