St. John’s Wort for Major Depression?
German Study Shows Herb as Effective as Antidepressants for Major Depression
WebMD News Archive
St. John's Wort and Major Depression continued...
Would he advise patients to take it?
"I don't know," says Raison. He'd prefer to use traditional
antidepressants as a first line of treatment for severe depression.
But if a patient insisted on trying it, Raison says he might "give it a
whirl" if it's appropriate for the patient. St. John's wort can interact
with other medications in the blood and can make them less effective.
Raison adds that there have been "a few cases" where St. John's wort
liver failure in people who were taking medication for a liver
Raison notes that an important thing he's learned from medical training is
"anything that has good effects, also has side effects."
Quality of St. John's Wort Varies
Scientists are still not sure how St. John's wort works for depression. The
authors of this study write that at least seven ingredients may be
According to the researchers, studies from German-speaking countries appear
to have better results from taking St. John's wort for depression. They note
that St. John's wort has a long tradition of use in these countries, and the
"difference could be due to the inclusion of patients with slightly
different types of depression, but it cannot be ruled out that
some smaller studies from German-speaking countries were flawed and reported
The authors write that the quality of St. John's wort "can differ
They note that a recent study of what is available on German store shelves
found that a number of brands contain only a tiny amount of the main active
ingredients thought to be key for treating
Power of Placebo
Linde says in a news release that those products with very low
concentrations may only work by a placebo effect.
Raison says a placebo can be a "very powerful antidepressant."
"There's a whole body of literature now that shows placebo can have a
direct effect on the pathways of the brain and work like an
Timing of Antidepressants
How long do traditional antidepressants take to kick in?
The old thinking was that you wanted to see depression lift within four to
six weeks, but Raison says that is changing. "You want to see within a week
or two that patients are getting better."
According to Raison, one reason is that the "longer it takes [a
traditional antidepressant] to work, the more vulnerable people are to have a
The review and findings are published in The Cochrane Library.