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How many patients self-medicate with St John's wort?

  • A. Redvers, R. Laugharne (a1), G. Kanagaratnam (a2) and G. Srinivasan (a2)
Abstract
Aims and Method

St John's wort is popularly taken as a herbal remedy, but it interacts with prescribed drugs. The aim of this survey was to estimate the prevalence of patients self-medicating with St John's wort. All new referrals to a community mental health team over 5 months were asked about any use of St John's wort.

Results

Fifteen patients, of 101, had taken St John's wort at some time and of those seven were currently taking it. Patients who used St John's wort tended to be younger and female. Only nine of the 15 patients took it for depressive symptoms and none had received medical advice. One patient was taking an interacting medication.

Clinical Implications

A significant number of patients are taking St John's wort. In order to prevent drug interactions, doctors should ask all patients whether they use it, especially young women who may be on the contraceptive pill. Patients need better education about its risks and benefits and it should be taken with medical advice.

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Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
References
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Bove, G. (1998) Acute neuropathy after exposure to sun in a patient treated with St. John's wort. Lancet, 52, 11211122.
Department of Health (2000) Regina Interactions between St John's wort (Hypericum perforatum). Preparations and Prescribed Medicines. Public Health Link/CMO's Urgent Communication. CEM/CMO/2000/04. London: Department of Health.
Ernst, E. (1999) Second thoughts about St. John's wort. Lancet, 354, 20142015.
Jobst, K. A., McIntyre, M., St GEORGE, D., et al. (2000) Safety of St John's wort. Lancet, 355, 575.
Linde, K., Ramirez, G., Mulrow, C., et al (1996) St John's wort for depression – an overview and meta-analysis of randomised clinical trials. British Medical Journal, 313, 253257.
Ruschitzka, F., Meier, P., Turina, M., et al (2000) Acute heart transplant rejection due to St. John's wort. Lancet, 355, 548549.
Wagner, P. J., Jester, D., Leclair, B., et al (1999) Taking the edge off: why patients choose St. John's wort. Journal Family Practice 48, 625–619.
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BJPsych Bulletin
  • ISSN: 0955-6036
  • EISSN: 1472-1473
  • URL: /core/journals/bjpsych-bulletin
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How many patients self-medicate with St John's wort?

  • A. Redvers, R. Laugharne (a1), G. Kanagaratnam (a2) and G. Srinivasan (a2)
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