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Health shops cause concern

4th October 2006

19072006_capsules1.jpgAccording to a survey published in Psychiatric Bulletin, the journal of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, only one in 13 drugs recommended by health shops to treat depression is proven to work.

Staff were more likely to prescribe multivitamins than St John's Wort, which has evidence to support use for moderate depression.

Some alternative medicines with potential drug interactions were also recommended, for example Ginseng, liquid tonic, cat's claw, ginkgo biloba and royal jelly.

A junior doctor at St James's university hospital in Leeds surveyed staff at 10 health food shops within three miles of the city centre. Ringing or calling as a customer with symptoms of moderate depression, Dr Reed found that only two staff asked if a GP had been consulted, with only three asking about depression. No staff warned about the potential effect of St John's wort on the pill, despite Dr Reed claiming to be taking oral contraceptives.

Dr Reed, and her co-author Peter Trigwell, were concerned that "staff are unlikely to warn customers about potential interactions and adverse side effects".

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