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Questions Arise About Saint John’s Wort And Cataracts

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This week there were concerns raised about the affect taking St. John’s wort can have upon people later developing cataracts. The InjuryBoard has been following the story closely:

St. John’s Wort Linked to Cataracts, Michael Roberts, December 10, 2009 6:54 PM

Potential Link Between St. John’s Wort and Cataracts Investigated, Joe Saunders, December 11, 2009 9:20 AM

Consumers Need To Be Informed About St. John’s Wort and Cataracts, Eddie Farah, December 12, 2009 3:16 PM

At the heart of the question is a recent University of Alabama study that suggests there is a connection. The study found:

Of the 31,000 people, 40 or older asked about their use of herbal remedies whether they had cataracts it was found that those who had cataracts were 59% more likely to also have taken St. John’s wort.

The RX List describes St. John’s wort as:

What other names is St. John’s Wort known by?

Amber, Amber Touch-and-Heal, Demon Chaser, Fuga Daemonum, Goatweed, Hardhay, Hypereikon, Hyperici Herba, Hypericum perforatum, Klamath Weed, Millepertuis, Rosin Rose, Saynt Johannes Wort, SJW, Tipton Weed.

What is St. John’s Wort?

St. John’s wort is an herb. Its flowers and leaves are used to make medicine.

Is St. John’s Wort effective?

St. John’s wort can help for treatment of mild to moderate depression. It’s about as effective as some prescription drugs. However, it might not be as effective for severe depression.

There is also some scientific evidence that St. John’s wort might be effective for treating anxiety.

Oily preparations of St. John’s wort seem to help stomach upset when taken by mouth. When applied to the skin, these oily preparations seem to help first degree burns, cuts and bruises, and muscle pain.

There is also some evidence that St. John’s wort is not effective for treating HIV infection. Don’t use St. John’s wort for this condition.

There isn’t enough information to know if St. John’s wort is effective for the other conditions people use it for, including: migraine headache, nerve pain, sciatica, excitability, muscle pain, cancer, obsessive compulsive behavior, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and many others.

For now the best advice comes from fellow Injuryboard member Eddie Farah,

The best thing we can do is get the word out on Web sites that provide consumer information such as InjuryBoard, so that anyone who relies on St. John’s wort is an informed consumer.

In the meantime, if you take St. John’s wort, please have your eyesight examined regularly, and consider changing it out with other supplements that are also known to elevate mood.