A new review has concluded that St. John’s wort is more effective than placebo, and is as effective as standard antidepressants in the treatment of major depression with fewer adverse effects than standard antidepressant drugs. The authors looked at 29 trials (5,489 patients) and included 18 comparisons with placebo and 17 comparisons with synthetic standard antidepressants. They all used the standard Hamilton Rating Scale to determine the severity of depression.
In trials that compared St. John’s wort to standard antidepressants and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) drugs, both the herb and drugs were equally effective. However, there was a 76 percent lower drop out rate by patients receiving St John’s wort compared to patients receiving tri- or tetracyclic antidepressants. There was a 47 percent lower drop out rate in subjects taking St. John’s Wort compared to patients receiving SSRI’s.
I had shown similar positive results in my first book, St. John’s Wort: Nature’s Blues Buster (1998), based on both the research at the time and my own clinical experience. The herb has had it’s publicity ups and downs, but now it’s clearly been vindicated; i.e. it’s as good as the drugs, but without the side effects.
Reference: Linde K, Berner MM, Kriston L. St John"s wort for major depression. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2008 Oct 8;(4):CD000448.
Dr Hyla Cass is one of the country's foremost authors and speakers on the subject of integrative medicine. A former Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at UCLA School of Medicine, she has incorporated nutrition and natural health techniques into her practice for more than 20 years.
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