Uses: To treat depression, anxiety, sleep disorders
Possible interactions: One of the top-10-selling herbs in the United States, St.-John’s-wort can cause adverse reactions by affecting an enzyme involved in metabolizing more than half of all prescription medications, according to the February review in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. The result for cardiovascular patients: Medications can become less effective, resulting in the return of a person’s arrhythmia, high blood pressure, propensity for blood clots (particularly if taking warfarin, a blood-thinning medication), or high levels of cholesterol (as concentrations of statins are reduced). And in patients who have had organ transplants and take immunosuppressants so the body does not reject the organ, St.-John’s-wort can dampen their effect as well.
Alternatives: Get moving. Physical activity may ease the symptoms of depression and anxiety and also help to regulate sleep when done at the proper time of day—though heart patients should always consult a doctor before starting a new workout regimen. Read about what science is discovering regarding exercise and depression and what to do when depression isn’t helped by drugs or 10 ways to get better sleep (and maybe cure insomnia).