Are Herbal Remedies Safe?

In general, yes, herbal remedies are safe when purchased from a major retail outlet. Herbal remedies have come a long way in the past decade, as their formulations have become more standardized across manufacturers. Herbal remedies still are not regulated in the same manner as prescription medication, however, so they may not adhere to the same stringent requirements. Herbal remedies are considered “food.”

You should always carefully read the herb packaging and ensure you understand the specific type and amount of the herb you’re intending to take. As pointed out in a recent medical journal article, contamination, mislabeling, and misidentification of herbs are important problems. In general, if you are taking an herbal remedy or thinking about it, discuss it with your physician. This is particularly important if you have several medical illnesses and are taking prescription medications.

What Is the Recommended Dose of St. John’s Wort for Depression?

Although this is still under consideration, the recommended doses are based on the doses used in the clinical trials that demonstrated some effectiveness of the herb in depression. Generally, the recommended dose for St. John’s Wort is either 300mg three times each day or 450mg twice a day of standardized extract (standardized to 0.30 percent hypericum, the active ingredient of St. John’s Wort). Talk to your doctor first to determine the right dose for you.

St. John’s Wort Side Effects

Dry mouth, dizziness, constipation, nausea and confusion have been reported by some of the study patients. These were considered to be relatively minor. However, if you experience any of these problems, you should consult your physician and make sure it is okay to continue taking the St. John’s Wort.

Pregnant women are warned against taking St. John’s Wort, as it may affect the muscle tone of the uterus. Also, patients already on prescription antidepressants are advised not to take St. John’s Wort, as drug-to-drug interactions are possible.