Here is some information concerning Saint Johns Wart, an herb some people promote as a treatment for depression:
In the United States, this commercial plant product is treated as a food supplement and not as a drug. This means that it is not required to meet any testing or effectiveness standard. The product may or may not contain the correct amount of active ingredient or effectivness.
There is no widely recognized testing proving that this plant is safe and effective.
People have found this preparation to provide relief from mild to moderate depression. The patient’s psychiatrist should be notified that this commercial preparation is being taken so that if there is any odd effect the doc can determine whether it is the wart or any medication the patient is taking.
In researching this I was suprised to find that there is evidence (not yet proven) that St Johns Wart may help in lifting mild to moderate depression. There is no evidence to suggest that it would be as effective in treating bipolar disorder because of the often greater severity of it’s depression. Still it might be worth considering with the assistance of one’s psychiatrist. Our’s is a difficult to treat, potentially fatal illness. My depression, for example, has never been mild or moderate.
As in one publication: “The catch with St. John’s Wort is that it can probably be used to treat mild to moderate depression. But you can get the same results with regular exercise, meditation, therapy or psychotherapy. And then you wouldn’t have to take a pill at all…”
And in another: “St. John’s wort is not completely free of side effects, however. Some users have complained of a dry mouth, dizziness, gastrointestinal symptoms, increased sensitivity to sunlight, and fatigue. In addition, herbal treatments often are not as potent or as quick to act as conventional treatments. Furthermore, herbal treatments may not produce the desired results and may not be as effective as conventional medicine. Still, some people turn to herbs because they prefer to use “natural” products.
Clinical depression is a serious medical disorder that, in many cases, can be treated. However, St. John’s wort is not a proven therapy for clinical depression. Therefore, there is some risk in taking it to treat clinical depression.
In any case, St. John’s wort should not be mixed with other standard antidepressants because side effects may result. This is one reason why it is important to tell your doctor about all medications you are taking. Check with your doctor before taking St. John’s wort or any other herb or medication. Your doctor can help you weigh the risks and benefits of a particular treatment so you can make informed health care decisions. ”
And in yet another: “Clearly St. John’s wort’s most prevalent medicinal use is as an antidepressant. Studies, mostly conducted in Germany, have found that St. John’s wort reduces feelings of depression, anxiety, apathy and worthlessness. Researchers are not totally sure how St. John’s wort chemically acts on the brain as a treatment for depression, but they believe that components of the herb that may impact depression include hypericin, xanthones and fiavonoids. St. John’s wort appears to be most effective for mild to moderate depression rather than for severe depression.”
An in yet another: “Congress exempted homeopathic remedies from this requirement, and in 1994, it exempted products labeled as “dietary supplements.” After the 1994, many more of these “supplements” flooded the market, since they didn’t have to be shown safe or effective. The FDA can take action only if they are found to be dangerous after they are on the market. Doctors can prescribe FDA approved drugs for any use they believe is medically indicated, and, of course, patients can choose to take alternative remedies either alone or in conjunction with FDA-approved drugs.”
In in yet another: “If a depression problem is temporary, medications may only be needed for three to six months after which they may be discontinued. For mild depression, you may take St. Johns Wart, which is sold at health food stores and over-the-counter. Medications requiring prescriptions include prozac, zoloft and paxil. For complicated psychiatric conditions, anti-psychotic drugs may prove to be very helpful. The more serious the condition, the more necessary it is to see a psychiatrist to find out which medications work best for you.”
These sites cover this topic:
Fact Sheet: St. John’s Wort
File editors Notes: Research on St. John’s wart which is being used for ailments such as nervous disorders, anxiety, depression, neuralgia, kidney problems and even wounds and burns.
HSR’s Annual Guide to Herbs
The best alternative? December 1998
Many thanks from me for providing this information to:
Work and Disability Issues Forum
Notice: Since the writer is not a professional in any field, any information given cannot be guaranteed as to correctness.