Considering St. John’s Wort for the Treatment of Depression

Many people have heard of herbal supplements and wondered if they could be as effective as drugs available with a prescription, or if perhaps herbal supplements are only snake oil. In the last 15 years, St. John’s Wort has become one of the most talked-about new treatments for depression, and, frankly, is worth a look if you have difficulty with other prescribed medications.
St John’s Wort, or hypericum is the number one antidepressant prescribed by physicians in Germany. German doctors write 3 million prescriptions for St. John’s Wort as compared with 240,000 for Prozac. It is prescribed for everything from the stresses of everyday life, winter depression (also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD), depression in the elderly, panic disorder, extreme shyness or social phobia, insomnia and compulsive hair pulling.

The good news is that the same formulation and purity levels of the German version of St. John’s Wort is available in the United States without a prescription. This is an opportunity for many Americans who may not have drug coverage for prescription antidepressants.

There are several unique features of St. John’s Wort:

  • It is an herb rather than the result of pharmaceutical development.
  • Unlike some untested herbal remedies, St. John’s Wort really does appear to work.
  • It has an unusually mild and acceptable side-effect profile.
  • Unlike all other antidepressants which require a doctor’s prescription, it is available over the counter.
  • Most other antidepressants act almost exclusively on the neurotransmitter serotonin. St. John’s wort acts not only on Serotonin, but on other key neurotransmitters as well, which may explain why St. John’s wort has proven to be uniquely helpful for certain individuals with mild to moderate depression.

While St. John’s Wort has not been shown to be effective in major depression of moderate severity, it has been shown effective in mild to moderate depression and is worth considering as a first step. Of course, always talk to your doctor before taking any supplement.

For more information, read “St. John’s Wort and the Treatment of Depression”

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This entry was posted on Monday, January 9th, 2006 at 2:38 pm and is filed under Depression, Supplements. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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