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[IP] St. John's Wort and pg's

Since St. John's Wort and pregnancies often show up on this list, I'm
posting this article:


Wednesday, 6 February, 2002, 00:20 GMT
Pregnancies prompt herb warning

St John's Wort is taken to relieve depression
A new warning about the effect of the herbal
remedy St John's Wort on the contraceptive
pill has been issued after two Swedish women
had unwanted pregnancies.

The country's pharmaceutical regulator, the
Medical Products Agency (MPA), has issued a new warning about the herbal

St John's Wort is often taken to alleviate mild

But it is known to counteract the effect of
certain drugs, including hormone-based
contraceptives, HIV medicines, blood-thickening drugs, and cyclosporine, a
drug used to prevent rejection of organ transplants.

Swedish health experts said the herbal extract
contained a substance called hyperfourin,
which made the liver work more efficiently,
helping it break down the pharmaceutical

They suggest some products may have more of an effect on conventional
medications than others.

The two Swedish women, aged 28 and 31,
became pregnant even though they were
taking the pill.

The MPA claims other cases of unwanted
pregnancy had previously come to light,
including some in the UK, and that there have
been reports of drug interactions in
Switzerland and Germany.

It wants a compulsory labelling warning of the
interactions of all St John's Wort products,
apart from tea.

Per Claeson, of the MPA, said one problem
was that not all women regarded the pill as a
pharmaceutical drug.

He said that the emergence of the two unwanted pregnancies had led to the
MPA restating advice first given in 1999.

"The evidence has come from clinical
interaction studies and also biochemical

"What is really new is that we have found
some products have less of an effect than
others, and these have been allowed a milder
form of labelling."

Warnings about the interaction between St
John's Wort and some prescription medicines
were first issued in the UK in March 2000.

The Medicines Control Agency (MCA)
reiterated its advice given then that people
who are taking St John's Wort at the same
time as a pharmaceutical drug should talk to
their doctor.

Women taking the oral contraceptive pill were
advised to stop taking the herbal remedy.

Voluntary agreement

A spokesman for the MCA told BBC News
Online: "The advice we gave at Easter 2000
still stands."

Since then, there has been a voluntary
agreement between manufacturers to provide
information about potential interactions with

A spokesman for the Royal College of General
Practitioners said: "There is a need for better
protection and information for the public on
herbal medicines and the possible interactions
these can have when taken with conventional

"Doctors should question patients about their
 use of herbal drugs and bear in mind the
 possibility of herb-drug interactions."
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