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St. John’s Wort (Hypericum Perforatum)

  • This herbal supplement is a popular anti-depressant, working in a pharmacologic manner similar to the prescription serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
  • It may be effective in mild to moderate depression but two studies reported no benefit in major depression.
  • In Germany, where it is the most frequently prescribed antidepressant medication, the dose commonly used is 300 mg three times daily.
  • Although Hypericum Perforatum is one substance known to be present in the flowers and leaves of this plant, it also contains other unidentified compounds, which appear to be very active.
  • In one study of Hypericum Perforatum in a mouse model of PD, there appeared to be some inhibition of the effect of the toxin (MPTP) used to cause Parkinsonism.

Caution:

  • St. John’s Wort may interfere with certain PD medications, most particularly MAO-B inhibitors.
  • St. John’s Wort should not be used concurrently with other antidepressant medications. People taking Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil or other SSRIs risk serious overdose effects by using Hypercom.
  • St. John’s Wort should not replace traditional prescription medicine for the treatment of a serious or major depressive episode.
  • Those who take blood thinners such as aspirin, heparin or warfarin (Coumadin) should not take St. John’s Wort.
  • People with PD who also take asthma medications, steroids or birth control pills should consult their physicians or health care providers before taking St. John’s Wort.
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