Herbal Treatment For Depression
– St John’s Wort

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Herbal Treatment For Depression – St John’s Wort

The St John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum), a shrubby perennial plant with numerous bright yellow flowers [1], is a well known herbal treatment for depression.


What St John’s Wort does

This herb works like Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI) antidepressant drugs like Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil. It is able to maintain raised serotonin levels in the brain through inhibiting serotonin uptake. [3]

However, unlike the SSRIs, this natural substance is safer to use and brings minimal side effects (e.g. violence, nausea, anxiety, nervousness, loss of libido) if used correctly. [3]

In addition, it is also believed to inhibit the uptake of other neurotransmitters like norepinephrine and dopamine. [2]

Other possible mechanisms by which it serves as a herbal remedy for depression is through suppressing the release of excessive stress hormone cortical from the adrenal glands, reducing the high levels of interleukins (a sign of immune dysregulation) in depressives, as well as stimulating receptors of the calming neurotransmitter, GABA. [2]

The various effects of the St John’s Wort add up to make it both an antidepressant and a tranquilizer at the same time. [2]


Research on St John’s Wort

Research on the effectiveness of this herbal treatment for depression has been widely published.


Mild to moderate depression

In 1996, the British Medical Journal detailed a meta-analysis of 23 randomized clinical studies involving 1,757 patients, and the herb was found to be significantly superior to placebos, and as effective as Prozac and other antidepressant drugs when it comes to mild and moderate depression [2, 3, 5].

Other studies found that St John’s Wort extract was able to alleviate psychological symptoms like depression, anxiety, apathy, insomnia or sleep disturbances and feelings of worthlessness [2, 4]. Some people also find that the herb helps them handle stress better [1].


Major or severe depression

Most research on St Johns Wort and depression involved patients with mild to moderate depression, so when it comes to major or severe depression, research outcome on the effectiveness of St John’s Wort as a herbal treatment for depression is mixed.

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