Because no reliable studies have been done on St. John's wort and pregnancy, it is unknown the supplement is safe for pregnant women. With so little information available, it's best to avoid this supplement during pregnancy. If you are taking St. John's wort and pregnancy occurs, talk to your healthcare provider about the possible risks and benefits, as well as alternative treatments.
St. John's Wort and Pregnancy: An Overview
St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum) is an herbal supplement often used to treat depression. As with most supplements, not enough information is available to know if it is safe to take St. John's wort during pregnancy. Although St. John's wort is a popular supplement that has been used for centuries, little information is available about the safety of using this herb during pregnancy.
Is St. John's Wort Safe for Pregnant Women?
No reliable studies show that St. John's wort is either safe or unsafe, as the herbal supplement has not been adequately studied in any pregnant women. Animal studies are generally lacking and have shown conflicting results. Some animal studies suggest that St. John's wort may decrease birth weight and may negatively affect some measures of behavioral development.
Many women try to avoid medications during pregnancy 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. With so little information available, it is a good idea to avoid St. John's wort during pregnancy. St. John's wort works similarly to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), a class of antidepressants that is sometimes associated with birth defects or other problems when used during pregnancy. St. John's wort may also have similar problems.
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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