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St. John's Wort and Heart Problems

  I have recently starting taking the herb St. John's Wort and feel it is beneficial. I would like to recommend it my sister who is 40 years old. She suffered a heart attack at the age of 38. Her doctors have never determined  the cause of the heart attack. she takes blood thinning medications as a precaution and has recovered completely. Is there any research about St. John's Wort and any connection to its effect on the heart?
  thank you.
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Dear Diane,
Since St. John's wort is considered a dietary supplement in the US, the FDA (food and drug administration)
does not regulate its use. Thus to date, the only studies of the efficacy and side effects of this drug are from Europe, specifically Germamy where it has been used for years to treat mild to moderate depression.
BUT, since many US patients seem to have benefited from this drug as such, there are studies underway in the US.
The studies in Germany show the drug to work better than placebo (taking nothing), and that there are little if any side effects, and
no known contraindications in cardiac patients.
The most important next step for your sister is for her to speak with her
doctor regarding wanting to start this "dietary supplement", MOST IMPORTANTLY
because if she is on  the blood thinner coumadin, anything (even an "herb") can effect the level of
her blood thinning and this will require closer follow-up.
I hope this information is useful. Information provided in the heart forum is for
general purposes only. Only your physician can provided specific diagnoses and therapies.
Feel free to write back with further questions. Good luck!
If you would like to make an appointment at the Cleveland Clinic Heart Center, please
call 1-800-CCF-CARE or inquire online by using the Heart Center website at
www.ccf.org/heartcenter. The Heart Center website contains a directory of the
cardiology staff that can be used to select the physician best suited to address your
cardiac problem.

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