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Pancreatitis Attacks & St. John's Wort- a Correlation?

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Folks,
as a single male, when chronic pancreatitis (cp) is diagnosed, there is always a medical supposition that the condition is alcohol-related. In my own case however, I could see no obvious correlation between my alcohol consumption patterns and my symptoms. Where I could see obvious linkage however, was between extreme stress and cp symptoms (note: I am not denying that alcohol is a significant trigger). So, I concluded that in my case at least, there seems to be a direct link between pancreatitis and stress.
Reflecting on a recent event however, i’m beginning to think that I may not have been entirely correct concerning this linkage, and that the real culprit may be st. John’s wort. My theory goes like this:-

over the years I have been prone to occasional bouts of depression. I have always associated my depression with stress. So at times of actual or potential stress, I have tended to use anti-depressant agents to treat or pre-empt the condition. Some years ago I made a decision (about the same time as my pancreas started playing up) to abandon the mainstream pharmaceutical anti-depressives (e.G. Seroxat) and try out the leading herbal alternative instead; namely st. John’s wort. The timing of this seems to correspond fairly well with the start of my pancreatic troubles. So, looking back at my own medical history, while there is an apparent correlation between stress and pancreatitis, there also seems to be a strong link between st. John’s wort and my periods of illness.

Anyway, I had been free of both pancreatitis attacks and st. John’s wort for some time, until recently, when I discovered a bottle of st. John’s wort tablets in a cupboard. I wasn’t feeling depressed, but the expiry date was near, so I thought I might as well use them. They might put an extra spring in my step and anyway, what harm could it do? I started taking some every morning for 3 or 4 days, then my pancreas flared-up. I felt so lousy that I lost all interest in the st. John’s wort and stopped taking it; and after a few days I felt fine again. In all likelihood, this is all simple coincidence, but it has set my mind wondering. I could of course, start taking the tablets to see if I get ill again, but somehow I am reluctant to do that.

Has anyone else noticed a correlation between st. John’s wort and pancreatic inflammation?

Andy
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replied April 22nd, 2005
My Husband Has Chronic Pancreatitus!
He has never taken st. John's wort, however, he had tremendous stress in his life prior to his getting ill. They only diagnosed his cp in the last 6 months, but he has had the symptoms for 11 years now. He had an abusive stepfather & 3 siblings & a mother to worry about. My husband being the oldest felt he should protect them all from him. In addition his job brought on tremendous stress also. He was on call 24 hours & would work over 12 hours per day, get home, just get laid down, then get called back in on a regular basis. He had his gall bladder removed right after the symptoms started & they nicked his liver in the process. Still wondering if this might have caused some additional problems. He has almost died on us 3 times now from kidney failure due to the excessive vomiting. His doctor said it the worst case they have seen & are only bandaiding it the best they can until they can figure something out to help him. He did not drink much at all. I believe stress brought it on.
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replied April 29th, 2005
Other Medications?
Hi andy,

were you taking any other medications?? After reading your post, I did a search for a corrolation between st. John's wort and pancreatitis. While I didn't find any suggestion that it can cause pancreatic problems, I cerrtainly did find it negatively impacted other drugs. The stange thing I did find, some of the drugs it interacts with do cause pancreatitis. So there could be a corrolation, just hasn't been documented yet. So very little is really know about pancreatitis.......... And as chronic pancreatitis is consider a rare disease, it doesn't get the funding research other diseases recieve.

While alcohol was not the cause of your pancreatitis, it is always advisable to abstain once pancreatitis has been even suspected. And you don't have to be male to have the pancreatitis blamed on drinking. It happens to most of us atleast once or twice in our medical care. Prior to learning about pancreatitis, I was a social drinker. And it was no big deal to give it up. I did learn the hard way why this is so important after 1/2 glass of wine at my boss' christmas party.

I too can attest that stress is major factor. Stress causes a lot of problems with the body beyond what it does with pancreatitis. Yet it is something everyone faces to one degree or another. Sure would like to see more research done on this subject as well....

Reeann
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replied November 25th, 2011
I have had pain on and off severe pain since about a year ago at times of stress it comes on immediately. Also it is affected by eating fat or any meat or high sugar or vinagar. I have an ERCP in August because my common bile duct was 4 times the proper size - the bile duct was very messed up so they cut it - and i got pancreatitis was in the hospital for 5 days on IVs. Since then it has come back and last week every day I have some severe pain for a few hours. They are wondering if my pain is from cp. Stress does seem to be a major trigger for me. I will be getting more testing soon ...
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