Many people use the herb St. John’s Wort as an alternative to prescription drugs for the treatment of depression. However, recently researchers have found a link between the popular herb St. John’s wort and cataracts. Cataracts involve the clouding of an eye lens. The condition is usually associated with old age, and can potentially lead to blindness. Research published in the most recent issue of the journal Current Eye Research, showed that study participants who had cataracts were 59 percent more likely to report using St. John’s wort. However, the lead researcher cautions that the study does not provide specific conclusions about the relationship between St. John’s wort and cataracts.
St. John’s wort, also known by its Latin name Hypericum perforatum, has been used for medicinal purposes for over 2,000 years. In Germany St. John’s wort is treated as a drug, and is more commonly prescribed than Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) drugs. Some studies have shown St. John’s wort to be as effective as Prozac and Zoloft in treating mild to moderate depression. However, a recent study showed St. John’s wort to be no more effective than a placebo as a treatment for major depression.
See the InjuryBoard’s St. John’s wort-cataract connection page for up-to-date information about the relationship between St. John’s wort and cataracts.