Before taking St. John's wort, breastfeeding women should talk to their healthcare providers about any potential risks. It is not known if the supplement passes through breast milk or if it has any negative effects on nursing infants. However, there have been reports of lethargy, colic, and drowsiness in infants whose mothers used St. John's wort while breastfeeding.
St. John's Wort and Breastfeeding: An Overview
It is not known if St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum) supplements are safe for use in women who are breastfeeding. St. John's wort is an herbal remedy that is typically used to promote mental health (it is most often used to treat depression). If you are breastfeeding or are planning to start, do not take St. John's wort without first talking to your healthcare provider or your child's pediatrician.
St. John's Wort and Breastfeeding: What Does the Research Say?
St. John's wort is a popular supplement that has been used for centuries. However, little information is available about how safe it is for women who are breastfeeding. It is not known if St. John's wort passes through breast milk, and it is not known if St. John's wort causes problems in nursing infants. There have been reports of lethargy, colic, and drowsiness in infants whose mothers took St. John's wort while breastfeeding.
Many women try to avoid medications while breastfeeding and turn to herbal remedies as an alternative, assuming that "natural" automatically means "safe." However, natural products can be quite toxic. For instance, many poisons and toxins are natural products.
Talking With Your Healthcare Provider About St. John's Wort and Breastfeeding
You should talk with your healthcare provider about St. John's wort and breastfeeding. Each woman's situation is different, and you and your healthcare provider understand your situation best. After considering what you want and expect, as well as your current health situation, the two of you can make a shared decision about St. John's wort and breastfeeding that is right for you.
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: KristiMonson, PharmD;
List of references (click here):
Jellin JM, editor. Pharmacist's Letter/Prescriber's Letter Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Web site. Available at: http://naturaldatabase.com/. Accessed February 25, 2008.
National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine. National Institutes of Health. Herbs at a glance: St. John's wort (July 2005). NCCAM Web site. Available at: http://nccam.nih.gov/health/stjohnswort/. Accessed February 25, 2008.
National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine. National Institutes of Health. St. John's wort and depression (December 2007). NCCAM Web site. Available at: http://nccam.nih.gov/health/stjohnswort/sjwataglance.htm. Accessed February 25, 2008.
Briggs GG, Freeman RK, Yaffe SJ. Drugs in Pregnancy and Lactation. 7th ed. Philadelphia (PA): Lippincott Williams & Wilkins;2005.
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