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Herbal medicines

St John’s Wort has similar side effect profile to fluoxetine

Research into toxicity associated with St John’s Wort (pictured) shows that the profile of adverse drug reactions (ADRs) is similar to that of conventional antidepressant drug fluoxetine, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor

Source: SollistimusNaturalis / Wikimedia Commons

St John’s Wort is a popular herbal medicine, but it may come with similar risks to traditional antidepressants

Over-the-counter herbal medicines, such as St John’s Wort, a herbal antidepressant with a variety of actions including inhibition of serotonin reuptake, are widely perceived as being safe. Yet research into toxicity associated with St John’s Wort shows that the profile of adverse drug reactions (ADRs) is similar to that of conventional antidepressant drug fluoxetine, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor.

Researchers analysed spontaneously reported ADRs to St John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum; n=84) and to fluoxetine (n=447) in Australia between 2000 and 2013. For both drugs, the majority of ADRs affected women aged 26–50 years, were mild to moderate in severity, and involved the central nervous system.

The results highlight an “urgent need for a comprehensive survey of overall herbal medicine usage,” the authors conclude in Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology (online, 1 July 2015).

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2015.20068964

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  • Research into toxicity associated with St John’s Wort (pictured) shows that the profile of adverse drug reactions (ADRs) is similar to that of conventional antidepressant drug fluoxetine, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor

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