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Subject: NNF - St. John's Wort Warning
Date: Thu, 17 Feb 2000 21:23:38 -0500

February 18, 2000
"Nutrition news is important. We help you understand it!"

Today's Topic: St. John's Wort Warning

Three reports in the February 11, 2000 issue of the Lancet describe
interactions between St. John's wort and prescription medications.
One study showed that St. John's wort decreased the blood levels of a
drug used to treat HIV infections; the second report described
rejections of two heart transplants because the supplement decreased
levels of the medicine used to suppress the immune system; and the
third was a summary of seven cases of people taking the blood
thinner, warfarin.

It appears that St. John's wort activates an enzyme in the liver
which metabolizes many drugs. This, in turn, decreases their blood
levels. One of the largest pharmacy chains in the U.S. has started
asking its customers about herbal supplement use, in addition to
prescription drug use, to avoid serious interactions. The Swedish
government just began requiring labeling on the supplement not to
take it with any prescription medications.

HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Although St. John's wort may
be safe in otherwise healthy people, there are so many drugs being
used it is impossible to predict which may be affected by this
supplement. Self-diagnosis and medication can lead to serious
problems in people being treated for other conditions. The U.S. Food
and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning letter to health-care
providers on February 10 warning about combining St. John's wort with
other medications, including oral contraceptives.

Nutrition News Focus will not be published on Monday, February 21,
2000, because it is a Federal holiday.

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