Hypericum: politics.

Botanical name: 

To: herb.franklin.oit.unc.edu
Subject: Re: Are we losing St. John's wort?
From: "Janina Sørensen" <janinaherb.bigfoot.com>
Date: Mon, 31 Jan 2000 13:12:49 +0100

Regarding the hypericum 'issue':

It was instilled to rthe Irish government to make hypericum a prescription only drug.
Apparently, this was done on the basis of financial interest of the pharmaceutical industry.
The reasons given were phototoxicity and MAO inhibiting activity--based on old research. However, both these statements have proven incorrect in the last years, and the safety profile of hypericum has proven as excellent, with sideeffects similar to those of placebo. This is an economical and political issue for us, and we are fighting this decision hard.

However, once one government (and the pharmaceutical industry) gets away with that in one country, we can only expect that others will come after.

This is an issue involving the 'flagships' of Herbal Medicine, herbs used for ages, documented as safe and effective. Anyone interested should have a look at the European Herbalist Association's website under 'news'--me too I have written an article fully referenced with recent research as to the safety and efficacy of hypericum.
http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~ehpa/homepage.htm [up-to-date URL on my "links" page]

This, I find, is an extremely important issue, and the Irish government should not get away with it.

The latest 'rumour' was circulated by a professor who had been writing in praise of hypericum until Dec. 99, when he suddenly (why?) started mentioning that hypericum in interaction with other drugs 'might' influence the cytochrome P450 system, which is responsible for drug metabolism mainly in the liver, and can be influenced by drug/drug, drug/herb or food/drug interactions.

However, as hard as we searched, we could not find a single original research confirming this. All info is related to SSRI's drug/drug interactions.

But this unreferenced 'might' was mentioned in a letter to the Lancet, a journal which is considered as serious, because articles are peer-reviewed. In a peer reviewed article, such unreferenced statements do not slip through. But letters of course are not reviewed for their scientific accuracy--and now that's being cited in the effort to register hypericum, seems like every weapon is taken up now, since the first reasons (photosensitivity and MAOI activity) were so thoroughly counter-documented.