What is St. John’s Wort?
St. John’s Wort is a perennial plant with yellow flowers. It contains many natural chemical compounds that can elevate mood, including hypericin, hyperforin, and xanthrones.
Use for Depression
The research regarding St. John’s Wort and depression is significant. An analysis of 23 research trials involving 1757 people with mild to moderately severe depression showed that St. John’s Wort was over 2.5 times superior to placebo in relieving symptoms. It was shown to be as effective as standard prescription antidepressants. Side effects occurred in less than 20% on St. John’s Wort, compared with over 50% on antidepressants. The researchers concluded that St. John’s Wort is more effective than placebo for treatment of mild to moderately severe depression. The National Institute of Mental Health does not recommend St. John’s Wort for moderately severe depression. A 2002 study by the NIMH found no statistical significance between St. John’s Wort or Zoloft compared to placebo. This research study is not consistent with most studies.
Quality Control Issues
St. John’s Wort has many possible sources and preparation methods. Different brands may contain leaves, stems, or roots. Preparations may be in the form of powders, capsules or teas. Concentrations vary. It is crucial to take St. John’s Wort from a pharmaceutical grade source, with quality control standards in place. Product labels are often confusing and impossible to interpret. Manufacturing standards are crucial for this product. Remember, if you are using this for mood improvement, it is being used as a pharmaceutical agent and quality is mandatory. Dr. Tague’s Nutrition Solutions St. John’s Wort meets the above standards.
St. John’s Wort’s side effects are usually minimal, and may include slight GI irritation or fatigue. In one study involving more than 1000 participants, patients actually reported fewer side effects with St. John’s Wort than placebo. Photosensitivity can occur. Those sensitive to the sun or those taking medications that increase sun sensitivity should be cautious taking St. John’s Wort. The herb is not recommended if taking antidepressants. Some types of severe depression, including bipolar depression, do not respond to St. John’s Wort. Other possible side effects are abdominal pain, constipation, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, dry mouth, itching, hives, skin rash, sleep problems, elevated blood pressure, and unusual tiredness.
Instructions and Dosage:
Take with food in divided doses to reduce chances of gastric upset. Do not take during pregnancy or breast feeding. St. John’s wort is not recommended with the following: antidepressants, digoxin, immunosuppressants, indinavir, loperamide, oral contraceptives, reserpine, theophylline, warfarin, 5-HTP. Adults – 300-900 mg daily. (Dr. Tague’s St. John’s Wort is 300 mg per capsule. The extract is standardized at 0.3% hypericin.) Children – 300-600 mg per day depending on size of child. Adolescents may take the full adult dose. Similar to many antidepressant medications, the positive effects of St. John’s Wort may take a few weeks.
Only use St. John’s Wort from a pharmaceutical grade source with quality control standards.