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St. John's wort Research
This is work in progress
De Novo Sequencing of Hypericum perforatum Transcriptome to Identify Potential Genes Involved in the Biosynthesis of Active Metabolites Miao He,1 Ying Wang,2 Wenping Hua,3 Yuan Zhang,1 and Zhezhi Wang1,*, a 2012 research paper...some highlights
"Background Hypericum perforatum L. (St. John’s wort) is a medicinal plant with pharmacological properties that are antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, anti-cancer, and antibacterial. Its major active metabolites are hypericins, hyperforins, and melatonin. However, little genetic information is available for this species, especially that concerning the biosynthetic pathways for active ingredients."
“Hypericum perforatum L. (common St. John’s wort) is a widely known medicinal herb used mostly as a remedy for depression . It also has other broad pharmacological activities, such as anti-tumor, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antioxidant, anti-cancer, and antibacterial properties , . Human health is benefited because of this diversity of active ingredients within various chemical groups. Its major active metabolites – hypericins, hyperforins, and melatonin – belong to the naphthodianthrones, phloroglucinols, and alkaloids, respectively. Xanthones and flavonoids have also been identified in extracts from this plant .”
“Melatonin (N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine), a hormone secreted by the pineal gland in animal brains, helps regulate other hormones and maintain the body’s circadian rhythm . It is also present in the plant kingdom , where it is considered an antioxidant or growth promoter . Although its biosynthetic pathway is poorly understood, it is thought to be derived from tryptophan and serotonin. Much current research has been focused on the detection, function, and biosynthesis of melatonin in H. perforatum because those plants produce significantly larger amounts of that hormone compared with other species .”
If there ever was a scientific paper which characterizes why whole herb extracts are superior to the isolation of a single compound this article certainly does. There are literally hundreds of sub-compounds which surround each “important compound” i.e. Hypericin. All these sub compounds are supportive in the overall medicinal activity of St. John’s wort." If you are interested in the full article email me for the link.
Metabolic drug interactions between antidepressants and anticancer drugs: focus on selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and hypericum extract
by Caraci F, Crupi R, Drago F, Spina E. a 2011 report
Different antidepressant drugs are currently used for the treatment of depression in cancer patients, such as second-generation antidepressants and, recently, the extracts of Hypericum perforatum. These agents are susceptible to metabolically-based drug interactions with anticancer drugs. The aim of the present article is to provide an updated review of clinically relevant metabolic drug interactions between selected anticancer drugs and antidepressants, focusing on selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and Hypericum extract.
SSRIs can cause pharmacokinetic interactions through their in vitro ability to inhibit one or more cytochrome P450 isoenzymes (CYPs). SSRIs differ in their potential for metabolic drug interactions with anticancer drugs. Fluoxetine and paroxetine are potent inhibitors of CYP2D6 and administration of these SSRIs reduces the clinical benefit of an anticancer drug, such as tamoxifen, by decreasing the formation of active metabolites of this drug. Women with breast cancer who receive paroxetine in combination with tamoxifen are at increased risk for death. Other SSRIs, including citalopram, escitalopram, are weak or negligible inhibitors of CYP2D6 and are less likely to interact with anticancer drugs, while sertraline causes significant inhibition of this isoform only at high doses.
Hypericum extract, by inducing both the CYP3A4 and the P-glycoprotein (P-gp), can reduce the plasma concentrations of different antineoplastic agents such as imatinib, irinotecan and docetaxel, thus reducing the clinical efficacy of these drugs. Although these interactions are often predictable, the use of fluoxetine, paroxetine and Hypericum extract should be avoided in cancer patients.
And the disclaimer: This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, please consult your healthcare professional.