For the millions of people who have been diagnosed with clinical depression, finding a natural alternative to costly and side-effect laden anti-depressants has been a welcome option for many. The herb St. John’s wort has shown promise as a natural way to treat depression. The first portion of this article looked at what St. John’s wort is, and how it may help our health. When we left off, we were starting to look at studies that had shown that St. John’s wort may be useful for treating depression, and so far, the results have all been very positive.
Other studies of St. John’s wort’s effect on mild to moderate depression that were conducted in both the United States and Europe found similar results, but with the added dimension of comparing it to tricyclic antidepressants. The analysis above compared the herb to a placebo, but these studies compared it to both a placebo and traditional medications that are used to treat depression. In addition, St. John’s wort was found to lead to fewer side effects than many antidepressants.
It is important to note that two recent studies did not find that St. John’s wort was more effective than a placebo for major depression. While some researchers felt that these two studies had flaws in them because of too-small dosages and not enough subjects (and the research does list some definitely unusual results), it’s worth noting anyway because it may indicate that while St. John’s wort can be useful for people suffering from mild to moderate depression, if you have major depression you might not get the same results.
Although more research is needed in this area too, St. John’s wort has been studied somewhat for its ability to help reduce anxiety. In some studies on St. John’s wort and depression, any of the subjects reported an improvement in their anxiety as well. But again, more research will hopefully be conducted on this topic.
St. John’s wort may also be useful for women who have to deal with premenstrual syndrome on a monthly basis. Reports indicate that if you want to give the herb a try to help deal with the symptoms of PMS, you might need to take it for a couple/few cycles before you notice a difference. European women have used St. John’s wort to help with PMS for years, but as of yet it’s not as commonly used in the United States for this reason.
St. John’s wort’s abilities to help our bodies may not stop with our emotions—it has also been found to have natural antibacterial and antiviral powers. Applied topically to the skin it may be especially potent at treating things like burns, scrapes, cuts and other minor skin issues. Speaking of skin issues, if you deal with hemorrhoids, St. John’s wort cream or ointment might bring you relief from the swelling, burning, and pain.
Some people who take St. John’s wort end up feeling fatigued or dizzy, or having a dry mouth or upset stomach. And still others have increased sun sensitivity, especially if they are out in the sun for a long period of time. These are things you should definitely be aware of if you decide to give St. John’s wort a try.
If you are feeling depressed and/or have been diagnosed with depression, it seems like the studies on St. John’s wort make it at least something that would be worthwhile to try. However, if you are currently on any medication you should definitely run it past your doctor first to make sure it will be safe to take. If you’ve used St. John’s wort for depression or any other health issue I’d love to read your comments—for example, did it work for you, and how long did you take it before you noticed a difference? I welcome your comments!