St. John's Wort

St. John’s Wort, Hypericum perforatum, generally contains 30-45% total hyperforin content, an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory molecule. Use of St. John's Wort dates back to ancient Greece where it was used to treat "nervous disorders."  Modern research has indicated that St. John's Wort may be used for mild to moderate depression although I have not found studies indicating that severe depression clients have been studied with St. John's Wort.

It works by providing the body with natural SSRIs (Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors).  Studies at the Mayo clinic show that it may be as effective as TCAs - tricyclic antidepressants. Because the body has evolved along side plants for thousands of years, our bodies more effectively metabolize plants occurring in nature.

St. John's Wort doesn't have the side effects like loss of sex drive that other drugs which are considered equally as effective such as fluoxetine (Prozac), citalopram (Celexa), and sertraline (Zoloft) according to the studies done at the University of Maryland which can be found here.

Quote from the University of Maryland study cited above:

"St. John's wort has also shown promise in treating the following conditions, a few of which are related to depression.

  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS): An early study suggests that St. John's wort may help relieve physical and emotional symptoms of PMS in some women, including cramps, irritability, food cravings, and breast tenderness.
  • Menopause: Two studies suggest that St. John's wort, combined with black cohosh, helps improve mood and anxiety during menopause.
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD): Used alone, St. John's wort has improved mood in people with SAD, a type of depression that occurs during the winter months because of lack of sunlight. SAD is usually treated with light therapy, and there is some evidence that using St. John's wort together with phototherapy works even better.
  • Eczema, wounds, minor burns, hemorrhoids: St. John's wort has antibacterial properties and may also help fight inflammation. Applied topically (to the skin), it may relieve symptoms associated with minor wounds and skin irritation.
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder, social phobia: One early open-label study found that taking St. John's wort 450 mg two times a day for 12 weeks improved OCD symptoms. But two other studies found that St. John’s wort didn’t help OCD."