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Depression Health Center

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St. John's Wort May Not Stop Major Depression

'Only Minor Benefits' Noted in Review of Research

Second Opinion

Here's what the National Center on Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) says about St. John's wort:

"There is some scientific evidence that St. John's wort is useful for treating mild to moderate depression. However, recent studies suggest that St. John's wort is of no benefit in treating major depression of moderate severity," says the NCCAM's web site.

The NCCAM is a branch of the National Institutes of Health.

Quality May Vary

The quality of St. John's wort products may vary, say Linde and colleagues.

"We recommend avoiding products that do not provide important information on the content, such as the amount of total extract (e.g. 900 mg), the extraction fluid (e.g. methanol 80% or ethanol 60%), and the ratio of raw material to extract (e.g. 3-6:1)," they write.

Possible Drug Interactions

The review also reminds people that St. John's wort can interact with other drugs. Doctors should "regularly ask" their patients if they're taking St. John's wort, says the review.

It's best to tell your doctor about any herbal products, vitamins, or other treatments you're taking. That way, he or she can watch out for any interactions between treatments. Depression Is Treatable

Every year, nearly 19 million U.S. adults have a depressive illness; that's 9.5% of the population, says the National Institute of Mental Health. Depression can damage physical health while plaguing the mind and emotions.

However, it's a treatable condition. Methods include counseling, medication, and lifestyle change. Asking for help is the first step, so reach out if you suspect depression.

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