Can you take Ashwagandha and St. John’s Wort together?

Recently updated on October 29th, 2023 at 08:46 pm

Ashwagandha and St. John’s wort are two herbs that are excellent for regulating mood swings, reducing anxiety, and relieving symptoms of depression. In times long gone, both of these were believed to possess magical properties.

In this article, we will shed some light on the frequently asked question of whether or not it is safe to take ashwagandha and St. John’s wort together, and if so, what health benefits you can expect.

Differences between Ashwagandha and St. John’s wort

Both ashwagandha and St. John’s wort are known as effective natural remedies for seasonal or postpartum depression, as well as anxiety, thanks to the intricate ways they help the body deal with stress. Still, there are several differences between these two herbs to keep in mind.

Ashwagandha and St. John’s wort are known as adaptogens – a type of herb or mushroom that improves overall health and helps your body cope with stress, anxiety, and exhaustion.

However,  according to Christopher Smaka, the head of Vital Ways, a school of traditional western herbalism, “each adaptogen is a radically different plant”. This is reflected in the fact that although they are both adaptogen plants, ashwagandha and St. John’s wort are quite far apart in terms of safety and possible interactions with other drugs.

In addition, ashwagandha is often used as a herb to increase libido and sex drive, which is not the main purpose of St. John’s wort. St. John’s wort is often used as an alternative to antidepressants, as it can alleviate symptoms of major depression with fewer side effects.

Is it safe to take Ashwagandha and St. John’s Wort together?

St. John’s wort is known for having a variety of interactions with other herbs and drugs, some of which can be noticeably negative. Luckily, some plants seem to have a synergistic effect when taken with St. John’s wort, and one of these plants is ashwagandha.

Combining ashwagandha and St. John’s wort could enhance the natural effects of both herbs, providing additional benefits. It is important to note that this synergy is sometimes a double-edged sword since in the case that adverse effects do occur, they are more likely to be severe.

Neither ashwagandha nor St. John’s wort should be taken during pregnancy, regardless of whether they are taken on their own or combined with each other.

Health benefits of taking Ashwagandha and St. John’s Wort together

Since taking these two herbs together can enhance their individual effects, there are many potential benefits to taking the herbs together. The soothing, anxiety-alleviating effects of both herbs may be amplified, and provide faster mitigation of common symptoms of depression.

In addition to its stress-alleviating effects, studies indicate that St. John’s wort may be effective in treating a wide range of conditions, including eczema, menopause, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer, and ulcers. Some of these conditions could possibly benefit from combining ashwagandha and St. John’s wort together, although more research in this field is required.

Both ashwagandha and St. John’s wort may have synergetic effects with some other medicinal herbs as well, although ashwagandha is generally considered to be safer to combine with herbs than St. John’s wort is.

Nevertheless, always seek the advice of a medical professional if you intend on combining them with each other, with other herbs, or medicines.

Ashwagandha and St. John’s Wort interactions with other drugs

Studies have found that ashwagandha root extract is almost always safe and well tolerated. Ashwagandha may interact with sedatives, blood thinners, thyroid supplements, immune system suppressants, and anxiety medications, among others. Most of the side effects of ashwagandha are minor to moderate in nature.

Ashwagandha can also cause sleepiness and lower blood pressure when combined with some other herbs. It has no known interactions with any foods.

On the other hand, St. John’s wort is known to have interactions with over 500 medications. Many prescription medications, including antidepressants, blood thinners, pain relievers, and those used to treat cancer, heart disease, and HIV, can have their effects dramatically reduced by St. John’s wort.

St. John’s wort can trigger episodes of mania in those with bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia, which is why extreme caution is advised for those with mental disorders who decide to take this herb. You should always consult a healthcare professional or pharmacist before taking St. John’s wort, especially if you take any drugs.

Lastly, when consuming foods high in the amino acid tyramine, some people can react negatively to St. John’s wort. Most tyramine is found in foods that have been pickled, aged, smoked, or fermented. Included in this are various types of cheese, aged or cured meat, beer, wine, sauerkraut, chocolate, and fermented soy products. It is also recommended to avoid alcohol and reduce caffeine intake when taking St. John’s wort.

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