Methadone maintenance treatment and St. John's Wort - a case report.


St. John's wort, a popular over-the-counter drug for treatment of depression, might reduce concentrations of drugs such as cyclosporin and indinavir and lead to drug resistance and treatment failure. No studies as yet have examined its influence on methadone plasma levels. The trough methadone plasma levels were measured in four patients (2 males, median age: 31 years; range 19 - 40 years) in methadone maintenance treatment just before the introduction of St. John's wort (900 mg/d) and after a median period of 31-day treatment (range 14 - 47). The study was proposed to addict patients about to start an antidepressant therapy. Introduction of St. John's wort resulted in a strong reduction of (R,S)-methadone concentration-to-dose ratios in the four median patients included, with a median decrease to 47 % of the original concentration (range: 19 % - 60 % of the original concentration). Two patients reported symptoms that suggested a withdrawal syndrome. Thus, prescription of St. John's wort might decrease methadone blood levels and induce withdrawal symptoms which, if not correctly identified and handled (by changing the antidepressant or by increasing the methadone dose), might cause unnecessary discomfort to the patient, lead to resumption of illicit drug uses, or be a risk factor for discontinuation of the methadone or antidepressant treatment.


Citations per Year

341 Citations

Semantic Scholar estimates that this publication has 341 citations based on the available data.

See our FAQ for additional information.

Cite this paper

@article{EichHchli2003MethadoneMT, title={Methadone maintenance treatment and St. John's Wort - a case report.}, author={Dominique Eich-H{\"{o}chli and Robert A. Oppliger and Kerry Powell Golay and Pierre Baumann and Chin B. Eap}, journal={Pharmacopsychiatry}, year={2003}, volume={36 1}, pages={35-7} }