Easily the most popular antidepressant herb on the market, St. John’s wort has a long history of use for depression and has even been fairly well accepted by conventional medicine physicians as a sound treatment for depression. It is currently recommended for the treatment of mild to moderate depression, and is especially useful for menopausal women. I have often combined it with Vitex for women who are seeking hormonal balance whether transitioning into menopause or simply trying to regulate their cycles to enhance fertility.
St. John’s wort is also one of the more studied herbs, and has established itself as one of the more relatively safe and effective botanicals available for the treatment of depression. How it works is less understood. Many studies have demonstrated it to offer improved outcomes over placebos and at least equal to that of standard pharmaceutical therapies. The key however, seems to be in the quality of the product. Because St. John’s is so popular, it is offered by a plethora of companies, many of which do not have high standards for manufacturing. Studies have found a large number of St. John’s wort products are contaminated, or rather are less St. John’s wort than street-side weeds. If you can secure a quality source, which we work hard to maintain in our boutique, then your outcomes should be quite effective.
The few side effects that are more commonly reported with St. John’s wort include photosensitivity, particularly in fair-skinned people. This typically disappears in a few days once discontinuation of the product initiates. Of course, this side effect is typically found more often in those taking higher dosages than what is typically considered safe.
St. John’s wort has also more recently been associated with fairly unfortunate herb-drug interactions. These are more commonly associated with anticoagulants, immunosuppressants, and anti-arrythmics and in my experience, clients who are prescribed these types of medications are well educated to avoid St. John’s wort. If you are already prescribed an antidepressant, your clinician may advice you to avoid St. John’s wort as well.
The standard dose is 2-5 g of dried herb per day, or 2-3 tablets of 1.5 g standardized to contain 0.9 mg total hypericin (an active ingredient), or 7.5-15 mL of 1:5 tincture daily (my personal favorite method).
Have you utilized St. John’s wort in your treatment regimen? What were your results? What was your favored method of administering the botanical?