Can St. Johns Wort Help Weight Loss?

Medicinal plants. St. John's wort.
A woman is clipping some St. John's Wort flowers. (Image: zolochevka/iStock/Getty Images)

Weight-loss supplements contain various ingredients designed to help dieters lose weight. Some over-the-counter dietary supplements contain St. John’s wort. While this herbal ingredient may be effective in treating some conditions, the American Academy of Family Physicians warns that the safety and effectiveness of using St. John’s wort for weight loss remains unclear.

Weight Loss

Although the weight-loss industry promotes the use of certain herbs to promote weight loss, there is seldom scientific evidence supporting these claims. Despite all the dietary aids on the market, losing weight requires eating fewer calories than your body burns. Regardless of the weight-loss products you take, you must eat 3,500 fewer calories to lose a single pound of fat, according to MayoClinic.com.

St. John’s Wort

Hypericum perforatum is the botanical name for St. John’s wort. The people of ancient Greece used this herb to treat a variety of conditions, including nervous disorders. The leaves and flowers of this herb contain hypericin and pseudohypericin. St. John’s wort is a shrubby perennial that grows natively in areas of Asia, Africa, Europe and the United States. It contains antiviral and antibacterial properties.

Uses

St. John’s wort is a common herbal remedy for treating depression and some studies show this herb may be effective for this purpose. Other possible uses for this herb include treating infections, menopausal symptoms and seasonal affective disorder. Although some evidence supports the benefits of St. John’s wort in some instances, there is no evidence that suggests this herb helps with weight loss. According to MayoClinic.com, one traditional use for this herb includes treating weight loss, although the effectiveness remains unproven.

Precautions

Although some weight-loss products contain St. John’s wort, there is no evidence that this herb plays any part in assisting in fat loss. The active ingredients may interact with certain medications, including antidepressants, antihistamines, birth control pills and sedatives. St John’s wort may cause side effects, such as dizziness, mental confusion, hives, headache and dry mouth. It may also make your skin sensitive to sunlight. Talk to your doctor before taking St. John’s wort and seek discuss healthy methods of weight loss with your health care practitioner.

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