Can You Take St John's Wort During Pregnancy?

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Have you been feeling a little low during your pregnancy? Do you think you may be suffering from depression? Are you planning on taking some natural medications or herbs to help you feel better and happier?

Have you heard about the herbal medicine, St John’s wort? If you are wondering whether or not it is okay to have it while you are pregnant, read on to know all about st johns wort and pregnancy.

What Is St John’s Wort?

St John’s wort is also known as Hypercium Perforatum. It is a kind of herb whose leaves and flowers are used to make medicine (1). It is mainly used to treat cases of depression that could be either mild or moderate. It is also used to treat some of the other symptoms that are a part of depression, like anxiety, difficulty in sleeping, fatigue and loss of appetite.

This herbal medicine has been used all across the European countries for a long time. Recently it has also been made available in the United States where it is categorized as a dietary supplement (2). The various components and active ingredients present in St John’s wort can vary depending on a lot of factors. Processes like harvesting of the herb, storing and even drying can affect the components and ingredients.

[ Read: Which Medications Are Safe During Pregnancy ]

Can I Safely Take St John’s Wort During Pregnancy?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not regulated the St John’s wort, unlike the prescription medicines. Due to this, there are no rules set in the United States towards its standard of preparation, its safety and effectiveness. There is also no research or scientific study that can back the effectiveness of St John’s during pregnancy(3). Due to the lack of sufficient evidence, most medical experts will suggest you do not use this herbal medicine while you are pregnant.

Depression is often a normal and common occurrence during pregnancy. You may already have been on anti-depressants earlier that your doctor has now advised you to stop taking. Do not take St John’s wort instead, even though it is used to treat depression(4) . Always speak to your doctor first, even though the herbal medication may be easily accessible to you.

[ Read: How to Treat Depression During Pregnancy ]

Allergies Or Side Effects Of Taking St John’s Wort During Pregnancy?

You should definitely not take St John’s wort while you are pregnant, unless your doctor has advised you to go for it. Some of the most common allergies to this herbal medicine are rashes and itching. Here are some more side effects that you should keep in mind:

  • Taking this medication may cause anxiety, headaches, muscle cramps, sweating, dryness in the mouth and irritation on the skin.
  • It can increase your risk of photosensitivity. Take it with caution if you already have very sensitive skin or are on any medication for photosensitivity.
  • It can react with your hormonal levels and cause an imbalance. Please check with your doctor for more details.
  • In some cases, taking St John’s wort can change the drug levels of other medication you may be on. In case you are using any medication for fungal or bacterial infections or any type of pain relievers, do check with your doctor.
  • Taking St John’s wort can alter the way your body processes sugar. Check with your doctor in case you have diabetes or have a family history of diabetes.
  • In some cases, using St John’s wort can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, loss of appetite and even heart burn and acidity. It is best to avoid if you have any intestinal or stomach problems.
  • Using St John’s wort can also increase your chances of swelling in the body.

[ Read: Is Zoloft Safe During Pregnancy ]

In addition to treating depression, St John’s wort is also used to treat premenstrual syndrome (PMS), various psychological disorders like OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and social phobia, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), hemorrhoids, eczema and even menopause.

Do not take the drug without first discussing with your doctor and getting a confirmation that you can safely use it during your pregnancy.

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