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Extract of St. John's Wort is Effective as an Antidepressant
What the Study Showed

An extract of St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum) containing 5% hyperforin was found to be more effective in the treatment of mild to moderate depression than an extract with 0.5% hyperforin or a placebo.

How It Was Done

In a randomized, double-blind German study, 147 men and women suffering from mild to moderate depression took 300 mg 3 times a day of a St. John's wort extract containing either a 5% concentration of hyperforin, a 0.5% concentration of hyperforin, or a placebo. After six weeks, patients receiving the 5% extract reported the greatest relief: 70% said that their depressive symptoms were much or very much improved. More than half (55%) of those taking the 0.5% extract and 48% of those taking the placebo also reported some improvement.

Why Its Important

The study confirms that St. John's wort can be a safe and effective treatment for mild to moderate depression, a category which accounts for about 90% of all depression cases. This makes the herb a possible alternative for standard prescription antidepressant medications (such as Prozac, Zoloft, Anafranyl, Aventyl), which can have adverse side effects. Researchers also determined that the effectiveness of St. John's wort, usually standardized to an active ingredient called hypercin, may also be affected by the amount of hyperforin, a compound found only in the reproductive parts of the plant. The two extracts used in this study contained equal amounts of hypericin.

Date Published: 02/14/2000

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