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J Geriatr Psychiatry Neurol. 1999 Spring;12(1):7-10.

St. John's wort and antidepressant drug interactions in the elderly.

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Department of Psychiatry, The Jewish Home and Hospital, New York, New York 10025-3757, USA.


There is increasing interest in and use of the herbal preparation St. John's wort. Hypericin, the major active ingredient, has many psychoactive properties. The agent is sold in the US as a nutritional supplement and is recommended for numerous conditions, including depression, anxiety, insomnia, and inflammation. We report a series of five cases of clinically diagnosed central serotonergic syndrome among elderly patients who combined prescription antidepressants with St. John's wort. Older adults are large consumers of both over-the-counter and prescription medications. They are particularly vulnerable to interactions between medications and products sold as nutritional or herbal supplements. St. John's wort requires further evaluation due to potential for drug interactions with central nervous system agents and for more definitive therapeutic indications.

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