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St. John's Wort
Technical Name: (Hypericum perforatum) Leaves and flowering tops of the plant
Used for: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) ("winter blues"), mild to moderate depression, nervousness, insomnia, anorexia, skin irritation, including herpes simplex.
Available In: Tablets, capsules, tinctures, fluid extract, powdered extract, oil
Herb Drug: St. John's wort probably acts in the nervous system as an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor), but unlike other SSRIs such as Prozac and Zoloft, it affects additional neurotransmitters as well. Therefore, when taken with SSRIs or other mood-altering drugs, it may cause causing serotonin syndrome (overload). St. John's wort should not simply be added to an existing pharmaceutical regimen, especially if taking other anti-depressants. Women using birth control pills. those taking Inadivir for HIV or those taking cyclosporine should avoid St. John's wort. In addition, patients being treated with anti-arrythmics such as Digoxin (Lanoxin) or taking blood-thinning medications such as Coumadin should not use St. John's wort.
Interaction: High intake may cause photosensitivity; take precautions with sun exposure. Takes two months for antidepressant effect to be noticeable. Acts as a blood thinner. May interfere with metabolism of certain medications.
When Buying: Look for standardized products.
Dosage and Warning: 300 milligrams three times a day. For topical use on irritated skin, apply the oil directly several times a day.
Child Dosage: Half the adult dosage. Not to be combined with other mood drugs or antidepressants. Topical applications same as adult.

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