It is important to be able to recognize the signs of high blood pressure, but it is also important to know what can cause blood pressure to increase, so you can avoid these factors if you a prone to hypertension. For instance, not only can certain foods and medications impact your blood pressure, but so can some natural herbal remedies. In fact, hypertension caused by st johns wort, a herb commonly used to treat mild depression, can be dangerous for those who suffer from or are prone to high blood pressure.
St. john’s wort is a bright, yellow flower. Its petals are used as an herbal remedy that can be administered as a topical ointment for healing burns, but it is primarily used as an oral dietary supplement to treat mild depression. Studies have found that one of st. john’s wort’s active ingredients, hypericin, affects neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) in a similar way as antidepressant medications. The reason why the active ingredient is so effective is because it mirrors monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors, which is the ingredient found in major antidepressant drugs.
How is hypertension caused by st johns wort?
St. john’s wort can cause an increase in blood pressure because the hypericin ingredient that is similar to a MAO inhibitor, produces a powerful and dangerous reaction when mixed with the amino acid tyramine. Reactions that can occur when tyramine is taken in excess with this herb include a fast rise in blood pressure, severe headaches, and irregular heartbeat. However, it should be also stated that although these reactions can occur, there have not been frequent reports of such occurrences.
Nevertheless, until more is understood about the interaction, a person taking st. john’s wort should dramatically limit or avoid foods or beverages high in tyramine including:
– Aged, dried, smoked, pickled or processed fish or meats (I.E. bologna, salami, pepperoni, herring, etc.)
– Chicken liver
– Aged cheese
– Soy sauce
– Yeast/protein extracts
– Over-ripe fruit
– Figs or raisins
– Alcoholic beverages including ale, beer, red wines, sherry and liqueurs.
It is also suggested that an individual taking st. john’s wort also limit their intake of caffeine.
Moreover, aside from being aware of hypertension caused by st johns wort due to the tyramine interaction, you should also know that like all herbs, there is a risk that st. john’s wort may interact with other medications, including those used for controlling high blood pressure. In addition, some users of the herb have also reported st. john’s wort caused a spike in their blood pressure when other prescribed anti-depressant and over-the-counter medications were taken with it.
Although, studies have found there is only a small reaction when other medications are taken with st. john’s wort, until further research can conclude the side effects or risks involved when taking medications in combination with the herb, it is highly recommended that those using st. john’s wort to treat mild depression not take any other form of medication, and also have their blood pressure checked regularly.
Finally, since hypertension caused by st johns wort is a possibility, individuals with high blood pressure, who have previously had high blood pressure, or who are prone to the condition, should avoid taking this herb. Speak to your doctor about other alternative remedies that do not increase the risk of high blood pressure if you suffer from mild depression.