St. John's Wort and Pregnancy: An Overview
St. John's wort
) 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.