Guest Author - Lisa Angelettie M.S.W.
In a recent British study on depression, it was found that commonly prescribed antidepressants have limited effectiveness in treating depression, which is why some people are turning to the antidepressant alternative - St. John's Wort.
St. John's Wort is an herb derived from the Hypericum plant species, and is a widely known herbal remedy for depression. It is recommended for Seasonal affective disorder ("winter blues"), mild to moderate depression, nervousness, insomnia, anorexia, skin irritation, including herpes simplex.
I'm sure you've heard of it if you have done any research on depression. Especially natural remedies on depression. But what many of you haven't decided yet is whether or not St. John's Wort is a viable treatment option for your depression.
Now, it is my belief that depression is a multi-layered and complex mental disorder. There are several causes of depression depending on the person affected. There are many different symptoms. There are several other disorders which you may commonly find in conjunction with depression in a person. AND there are many different solutions for treatment based on severity, other medications involved, affordability, and preference. So it's no wonder why people jump from solution to solution looking for the perfect fit.
Well, there is no one-size-fits-all solution in medicine. So one thing I tend to look at when considering a depression treatment is has it been tested or has their been research done on it? And the answer is yes when it comes to St. John's Wort.
Latest research shows that St. John's Wort is just as effective in treating mild depression symptoms as any recommended pharmaceutical antidepressant on the market. Standardized extracts have shown an effectiveness equaling Prozac in the treatment of mild to moderate forms of the disease. In fact, it is the antidepressant of choice in Germany. And people in Ireland even need a prescription to obtain St. John's Wort - which I think is a testimony to it's potency.
It is believed that St. John's Wort works in the same manner as many other antidepressants, by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain. Therefore is highly recommended NOT to take it along with any other antidepressant medications.
The great thing about this herb is that unlike pharmaceutical options - there are truly few side effects. The only ones reported in trials include gastrointestinal symptoms, dizziness, confusion, tiredness and sedation.
In a large study conducted of 360 patients, funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH), found that St. John's Wort is not affective in treating moderate to severe depression. So this natural remedy is probably only an option for those of you suffering from mild to moderate depression.
Homeopathic M.D. Dr. Weil (seen on Oprah™) recommends taking 300mg (standardized to 0.3% hypericin extract) of St. John's Wort - three times a day for optimal results. This is the usual dosage recommendation by manufacturers as well. Make sure to take it with food.
Children can also take St. John's Wort, but should take HALF the dosage and not mix it with any other prescription medications.
I personally take St. John's Wort myself and have found that it has really made a difference in my symptoms, but you need to give it at least two months to see a difference in your symptoms.
Make sure that you list St. John's Wort as a medication you are currently taking when you visit your primary physician and all your other medical doctors, because it is not effective or could even be harmful when mixed with certain medications.
Lisa Angelettie MSW, "GirlShrink" is a psychotherapist, author, and online advice authority. Her site GirlShrink.com is the #1 "Advice & Counseling" site on the web. Please visit us for more discussion on this topic in the depression forum to talk about it further. Don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter for topics in the news, new articles, website & book reviews, and other useful depression resources. Subscribe below.