Does St John’s Wort Help With Depression?

St John’s wort (SJW) is a bushy plant with pretty yellow flowers which is common throughout Europe, North and South America as well as Asia, New Zealand and Australia. It has been used for centuries to treat various ailments from depression to fatigue. 

The medical community has been studying this fascinating little plant extensively to uncover the secrets behind its effects on the human body, notably on depression and mood disorders. 

St John’s Wort and Depression

The treatment of depression can take many forms depending on the severity of the illness. 

St John’s wort has been listed as an effective option to improve mood and reduce fatigue and nervousness as well as any prescription drug. While the exact mechanism of action for this herb remains unclear, the medical field feels that the ingredients hypericin, pseudohypericin and various xanthones are responsible for an increase in the happy hormones in our brain; namely dopamine and serotonin.

Does this mean that this herb will work for all types of depression? 

As with any medicine – herbal or otherwise – we need to be cautious and ensure that we are basing our treatment decisions on sound medical advice and not just self-medicating. 

In the case of St John’s wort, studies have certainly shown positive effects in the treatment of mild depression, and others state that their trials show SJW to be as effective as standard antidepressants for major depression.

SJW enjoys fewer side effects than traditional anti-depressants but is not without its problems. Something to take careful note of is that St John’s Wort seems to interact with many drugs on the market. 

Be sure to take advice from your doctor before mixing SJW with any existing medicines. 

Possible Side Effects of St John’s Wort

Despite SJW being a natural product, some side effects have been listed and include:

  • Stomach cramps
  • Dizziness
  • Tiredness

The treatment of depression is a big subject, with factors such as the patient’s age, gender, emotional stability, diet, lifestyle and medical history all playing a part. We know that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for depression – it’s as individual as you and I.  However if St John’s wort can assist you or your family then we’d welcome the opportunity to discuss it with you and determine if this is the right option for you. Call Dr Sanua today and book your appointment. 



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