18. What About St John’s Wort?

St Johns Wort – Review Facts and Warning
Sam Robbins MD

The extract from the herb St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) has been used for centuries in many folk and herbal remedies. Today in Europe, it is used exten- sively to treat mild to moderate depression. In the United States, it is one of the top-selling botanical products.

In an 8-week trial involving 340 patients diagnosed with major depression, St. John’s wort was compared to a common SSRI and a placebo (sugar pill). The trial found that St. John’s wort was no more effective than the placebo in treating major depression.31 However, use of St. John’s wort for minor or moderate depression may be more effective. Its use in the treatment of depression remains under study.

St. John’s wort can interact with other medications, including those used to control HIV infection. In 2000, the FDA issued a Public Health Advisory letter stating that the herb may interfere with certain medications used to treat heart disease, depression, seizures, certain cancers, and those used to prevent organ transplant rejection. The herb also may interfere with the effective- ness of oral contraceptives. Consult with your doctor before taking any herbal supplement.

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