In pot lore, there’s a variety of things that are rumored to help or hinder a high – mango is allegedly good for the ganja, exacerbating all the feelings for a longer, more potent rush. Black pepper is supposed to do the opposite, tapering the high and bringing you back to your regularly scheduled reality. But what about other things?
Specifically, does St. John’s Wort influence your high? The answer appears entirely inconclusive: some people think it helps a high, some people think it hinders a high, and some people think that it doesn’t do much of anything.
What is St. John’s Wort?
According to WebMD, St. John’s Wort is an herb turned dietary supplement that’s been used for medicinal purposes throughout history. It’s usually taken by capsule or as a tea.
Some studies suggest that there’s a reason for this – it appears to help many ailments, most notably depression
It’s also helpful for OCD, seasonal affective disorder, PMS, and anxiety. When used as an ointment, it helps eczema, hemorrhoids, cuts and scrapes, burns, and skin inflammation.
Many of the ailments that St. John’s Wort helps are also aided by cannabis. For some, this makes the duo a winning combination, a combo in which cannabis further relaxes the body and helps St. John work its magic (and vice versa). Still, St. John’s Wort isn’t always benign as assumed; though it’s available in the medicine aisle of any drug store, caution is advised.
It’s been known to cause allergic reactions, fatigue, an increase in blood pressure, and abdominal discomfort. It causes sun-sensitivity too. This is mainly true in people who are fair-skinned and already prone to sunburn.
St. John’s Wort, and herbal remedies in general, aren’t recommended for the elderly, children, pregnant women, and people taking certain medications. In fact, St. John’s interacts with several drugs – it can affect how well birth control pills work (setting up an unplanned pregnancy and a new child to be named John), it can alter organ transplant rejection drugs, and it can decrease the efficiency of some medications used to treat heart disease. It also interacts with medications taken for depression and other psychiatric illness (more on that below).
St. John’s Wort has MAOI qualities (albeit minor ones). MAOIs, or Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors, according to the Mayo Clinic were the first type of antidepressant (but they’ve largely been replaced because of their side effects).
MAOIs are prescribed to certain people, especially when other types of treatment (the more standard SSRIs) haven’t worked. They influence depression by affecting the neurotransmitters that the brain cells use to communicate. They also prevent an enzyme from removing norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine from the brain. Stopping this removal changes the brain’s underlying chemistry.
In addition to mental health disorders, MAIOs are also used to treat Parkinson’s disease.
St. John’s Wort and Weed
When combining St. John’s Wort with cannabis, the effects appear to be individually based. Some people swear that St. John is akin to St. Nick – it comes bearing the gift of a longer, greater, more earth-shattering high. Others find that this isn’t true and that St. John does the opposite – it makes the high less lofty. And others say it makes no difference at all.
Of course, this is influenced by other factors – how much St. John’s Wort you took, what you’ve eaten, other medications you’re on, your size, your gender, your pot tolerance, your strain of choice, your route of consumption and your body chemistry. It may also be influenced by your susceptibility to suggestion –
If you think St. John’s Wort will add to your high, it probably will even if that addition is limited to your imagination
But, while it may be tempting to see for yourself how well St. John’s dances with Mary Jane, keep in mind that this supplement isn’t something to mess around with. While it shouldn’t interact with cannabis, it interacts with all sorts of other drugs. Already taking a medicine that’s contraindicated and then throwing weed into the mix may result in a trip you’ll wish you’d never taken.
Per the University of Maryland Medical Center, St. John’s Wort influences medications in two ways: it causes them to lose their effectiveness or it causes side effects ranging from annoying to dangerous.
Some of the medications contraindicated include antidepressants (all classes), allergy drugs, drugs that suppress the immune system, cough medicines, drugs that fight HIV, some blood pressure medicine, sedatives (including alcohol), drugs used to treat migraines, bronchitis medication, Warfarin (a blood thinner), anti-fungal drugs, calcium channel blockers, and statins that lower cholesterol.
When taking an MAOI (or St. John’s Wort) dietary restrictions are recommended because of the drug’s ability to increase blood pressure when combined with certain types of food.
According to Drugs.com, people taking St. John’s Wort should avoid foods high in tyramine. These foods include air-dried meats, aged or fermented meats, salami, sausage, pickled herring, poultry, fish, liver, red wine, beer taken from a tap, aged cheeses, sauerkraut, soy beans, over the counter cold medicines, soy sauce, tofu, miso soup, bean curd, fava beans, and yeast extracts. Beer that isn’t pasteurized and meat that is improperly stored also have high tyramine levels.
Caffeine is something else that St. John’s may interact with. This doesn’t mean you need to become a masochist and give up coffee entirely, but if you experience dizziness, nervousness, or the jitters, you may need to limit your consumption.
St. John’s Wort is known to cause anxiety when taken in high doses
something that potheads know a thing or two about: the chronic sometimes comes with chronic paranoia. And it causes dry mouth – a major side effect of weed as well. If you’re going to combine these herbs together, know that your side effects may multiply. In order words, have water ready for the dry mouth but in a plastic cup for the paranoia. Drinking from an actual glass is dangerous with those sharp edges. You might lose a tongue.