Tag Archives: warning

St. John’s Wort – A Controversial Supplement

St. John’s Wort is a herbal supplement made from a tall flowering plant called Hypericum perforatum that has yellow star-shaped petals. St. John’s Wort has been used for centuries as a homeopathic remedy for an array of ailments spanning the healing of wounds, to ‘hallucinations” and more recently, depression. Only a couple of its uses have been scientifically backed. It has gained quite the reputation for bring problematic, as it can cause serious interactions with other supplements and medications, as well as adverse side effects.

Herb of Many Names

St. John’s Wort goes by many other names as well which include (but are not limited to):

  • Perforate
  • Amber
  • Barbe de Saint-Jean
  • Demon Chaser
  • Fuga Daemonum
  • Goatweed
  • Tipton’s weed
  • Klamath weed

St. John’s Wort and Depression

The most conclusive studies conducted on the supplement have been on its potential efficacy in managing symptoms of depression. Reputable studies have observed that St. John’s Wort performed better than placebos when it came to helping manage symptoms of mild-to-moderate depressive disorder. It is not meant to replace prescribed medication for depression but in some cases, may effectively supplement treatment. Studies have not proven if St. John’s Wort can help depression in children, as studies have only been performed on adults with the condition. Research also suggests mild potential benefits for OCD sufferers as well as atopic dermatitis.

St. John’s Wort and Other Ailments

Research has proven inconclusive on the treatment or curative properties of St. John’s Wort for other conditions such as: seasonal affective disorder (SAD), anxiety, ADHD, pain, PMS or severe depression. More studies are needed to prove any benefit for these conditions.

Potential Side Effects

As is the case with most medications and supplements, St. John’s Wort is not risk-free. Side effects that have been reported include: trouble sleeping (insomnia in some cases), fatigue, anxiety and irritability, diarrhea, headaches, skin rash, photo-sensitivity and restlessness.

Dangerous Interactions

Research and consumer reports have shown that taking St. John’s Wort can render oral contraceptives (birth control) ineffective. Furthermore, dangerous interactions could occur when St. John’s Wort is taken with such medications as: Warfarin, SSRI antidepressants, cyclosporine, digoxin, antiretroviral medications (used to treat HIV), theophylline or certain migraine medications. Due to the many potential interactions St. John’s Wort may cause, it is of vital importance to talk to your doctor about the medications you are taking before trying St. John’s Wort.

A Contentious Remedy

Because of all the potential drug interactions and side effects St. John’s Wort is associated with, it is actually banned in certain countries like France. In some countries it is only available through prescription so the doctor must sign off before the patient can begin taking it. Recently, countries like Canada are required to update St. John’s Wort labels to include adequate warnings about the potential issues the supplement can cause.

The Bottom Line

While it may certainly provide benefits to certain patients that would outweigh its risks, overall it is regarded is a controversial supplement within the medical community and should be used with caution (especially when it comes to those with cardiovascular disease or people taking birth control).

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Prediabetes – Nature’s Warning Label

Prediabetes is a health condition whereby a person’s blood-sugar levels are chronically elevated higher than normal, but not yet quite in the zone of diabetes. It is startlingly common in the United States, affecting approximately 1 in 3 American adults. Unfortunately, many people don’t take prediabetes seriously, which may be one of the foremost contributing factors to the extraordinarily high number of Americans who go on to develop type 2 diabetes.

What are the Symptoms of Prediabetes?

Some people don’t experience any symptoms even though their blood-sugars are elevated, while others seek medical attention because they begin having some of the early symptoms of diabetes such as increased thirst, frequent urination, blurred vision or fatigue. Whether or not the person is having symptoms, elevated sugars are enough cause for concern to start acting upon.

Can Prediabetes Lead To All Types of Diabetes?

No, prediabetes only leads to type 2 diabetes (and may have a correlation with gestational diabetes as well), but it cannot lead to Type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition whereby the body attacks the pancreas, causing problems with insulin production. Type 1 has no prerequisite and cannot be prevented, whereas type 2 can most often be prevented by making healthier lifestyle alterations such as exercising more, quitting smoking, cutting down on alcohol consumption and adhering to a healthy diet.

The Heated Prediabetes Debate

There is a moderately large camp of medical professionals standing in opposition to prediabetes awareness campaigns, viewing the term as rash, overzealous and responsible for unnecessary testing. These doctors believe a diagnosis of prediabetes alarms people more than helps them. To this sentiment, Ann Albright, the CDC’s director of the Division of Diabetes has rebutted, “Our major message is to use this as a warning, not to frighten people. It’s just not an option to stand by and watch millions of people march to diabetes.” Most medical professionals seem to err on the side of the CDC, looking at a prediabetes screening as a good way to set people down a better path of self-care so as to avoid a bigger health problem down the line.

Why You Should Take Prediabetes Seriously

Prediabetes can be a direct precursor to type 2 diabetes, a life-threatening and often debilitating disease that can cause kidney failure, loss of limbs, cardiovascular complications and more. Being that type 1 and 2 diabetes are collectively the 7th leading cause of death in the united states, it is important to take a diagnosis of prediabetes seriously so you can positively change the trajectory of your future before type 2 diabetes takes a hold of your life.

Time to Answer the Wake-up Call

If you are diagnosed with prediabetes, look at it as a second chance to get your health on track before you head down the harrowing path of no return to full-on diabetes. If you’ve been diagnosed with prediabetes or suspect you may have it, check out some of our diabetes prevention tips, and talk to your doctor about a personalized lifestyle action plan to help you turn your health around before it becomes too difficult to do so!

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