health brief

Exercise Caution When Combining Herbs and Prescription Medications

St John's Wort the Most Common
by Hillary Howell

Natural Awakenings News: St John's Wort the Most Common, by Hillary Howell

Some herbs can interact with medications just as other conventional medications do.

This is just one reason to monitor (based on risk) drug levels or drug outcomes such as high/low blood pressure or bleeding precautions. It could be as simple as avoiding the combination all together (contraindicated) or separating the dosing by a few hours to avoid absorption issues.

Among the most common of drug-herb interactions involves St John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum). It uses one of the most common drug metabolism pathways in the body, therefore having a greater potential of interacting with medications.

For example, St John’s Wort and Atorvastatin, a cholesterol lowering agent, in combination with each other calls for monitoring the individual’s blood cholesterol levels because St John’s Wort lowers the effect of the Atorvastatin.

Another noteworthy example of potential drug-herb interactions that have been reported are cases of unwanted pregnancies with the use of St John’s Wort and oral contraceptives.

When taking prescription medications and herbs together, check with your physician, pharmacist or other medical professional to ensure your safety.

Hillary Howell, PharmD, founder of Apothecary & Co in Oxford, MI, has been in the pharmacy business over 20 years and a practicing pharmacist for 15 years. For more information, call 248-572-6404 or visit

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