Can St John’s Wort Really Cure Depression?

man sitting with his head low, in a dark room(BlackDoctor.org) — St John’s wort is a plant with yellow flowers that are used to make teas, tablets, and capsules that contain the concentrated extract. It is available over the counter and widely used by people to help treat depression, anxiety and sleep disorders.

Can I Use It To Treat My Depression?

I’ve had many patients ask me if they can stop taking their prescribed antidepressant medication and just start taking St Johns Wort instead?

My answer? No.

It’s important to remember that St John’s wort is not a proven therapy for depression – there is no concrete evidence that it is an effective treatment for major or severe depression. It’s important to keep in mind that if depression is not adequately treated, it can become severe.

That said, while you shouldn’t stop taking your prescribed antidepressants, there have been some studies that show St John’s wort might be beneficial in the short-term treatment of mild to moderate depression.

When Should I Take St John’s Wort?

When considering starting St John’s wort to treat depression, it is important that you discuss it with your physician or pharmacist first. Also, you should not abruptly stop taking your current medications, nor should you start taking St John’s wort at the same time, because of possible interactions with a lot of different medications.

Just some of the drugs that can be adversely affected include: birth control pills, Cyclosporine, Digoxin, some HIV medications, some cancer drugs, seizure-control drugs, and warfarin.

Anyone who may have depression should see a health care provider before attempting to start or modify any medication regimen.

By Dr. Crystal Riley, BDO Pharmacy Expert

A graduate of the Howard University School of Pharmacy, Dr. Crystal A. Riley has spent the majority of her career involved in drug information services for not only healthcare organizations and practitioners, but for patients as well. While her career has shifted towards researching healthcare policy and quality standards, Dr. Riley still actively seeks opportunities to keep patients informed and aware of medication-related issues to help improve their overall quality of life.

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