Thousands of packets of St John’s wort tablets have been recalled in the UK as a safety precaution after some were found to be contaminated with a toxin which could cause human liver damage.
Health regulators issued an urgent recall of six batches of the herbal treatment – 91,800 packets in total – which have been on sale since September 2013 and are due to expire between May and August 2016.
St John’s wort is extracted from the hypericum perforatum plant, and is typically used to treat depression, anxiety, loss of appetite and insomnia.
The affected tablets, manufactured for Superdrug, Asda and alternative treatment specialist HRI Herbal Medicine, were found to be contaminated. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has warned that the affected batches have levels of a toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloid above the threshold recommended by the Committee on Herbal Medicinal Products, a European expert body. The St John’s wort in the recalled tablets was likely to have been mixed with poisonous weeds when the plants were harvested, the MHRA said.