Here's What You Need To Know Before Taking St. John's Wort

If you've struggled with anxiety and looked for a natural remedy, you've likely come across an herb called St. John's Wort. With evidence that the yellow plant aids in the reduction of depression and anxiety symptoms, St. John's Wort often comes as part of a holistic routine for issues like nervousness, insomnia, and a lowered appetite, as noted by WebMD. But, if you're looking to take the plant, it's important to note a property that can seriously impact your health. 

France has even banned the plant because of the risk of its interactions with other common medications (via WebMD). Taking St. John's Wort with medications such as antidepressants, Xanax, and drugs for HIV or AIDS can have seriously damaging side effects. According to VeryWell Health, taking St. John's Wort with antidepressants can cause a "life-threatening increase" of serotonin in the brain. According to licensed naturopathic physician, Jeremy Wolf, serotonin syndrome "includes confusion, fever, agitation, rapid heart rate, shivering, perspiration, diarrhea, and muscle spasms" (via Healthline). When taking Xanax, St. John's Wort can reduce the medication's effectiveness, as noted by Healthline.

St. John's Wort can interfere with other medications

If you're on common prescriptions such as birth control, heart medication, or anti-seizure medicines, think again about taking St. John's Wort. In addition to these, anticoagulants, as well as medications for HIV and cancer can all react with the plant-based supplement (via Healthline).

The reason for these implications stems from the herb's capacity to impact enzymes within the body. Cytochrome 450 is a pathway containing enzymes that break down drugs and chemicals to remove them from the bloodstream, as explained by Healthline. Blair Green Thielemier, PharmD, told the outlet that "St. John's Wort, like grapefruit juice, induces the body to produce more of these enzymes in order to clear the chemical from the bloodstream [faster]." In effect, taking this herb can create more enzymes that break down the drugs you're already taking — hampering their healing abilities.

Before you head to your local health foods store for a bottle of St. John's Wort, make sure that other medications you're taking don't interact with the plant. As always, talk to your doctor about your plan to start a new supplement and make sure it works with your routine!