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St John’s Wort – lifts mild to moderate depression
If you believe everything you read in the press this herb is the Prozac of the new millennium. There is no doubt that while it may not be the treatment of choice for major depression, good research exists to back up its use for mild to moderate depression and anxiety.
A 1999 review for instance, found it to be either more effective than placebo or as effective as older pharmaceutical antidepressants in the treatment of mild to moderate depression.
Other more recent research summarised by the journal American Family Physician confirms this conclusion.
Its advantages over conventional antidepressants are not just in elevating moods. Taking St. John’s wort also means less adverse effects such tiredness, mouth dryness and heart complaints.
St John’s Wort is also used to relieve anxiety during the menopause, and some studies show it is useful in cases of prolonged fatigue or ‘tired all the time’ syndrome.
St John’s Wort may be taken as a standard herbal infusion (a heaped teaspoon of dried herb to a cupful of boiling water) or tincture three times a day. The effective capsule or tablet dose of St John’s Wort used to treat depression has typically been 300 mg of the extract with a standardised hypericin content of 3%, three times daily.
St John’s Wort can reduce the efficacy of certain other types of medication and should not be used if you are taking immune enhancing drugs or the birth control pill. St John’s wort should not be used with antidepressants such as monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
In rare instances individuals taking St John’s wort may experience increased photosensitivity. Like all herbs (and conventional medicines) it is best avoided during pregnancy.
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