St John’s Wort
If you’ve been investigating mood altering herbs, then you’ve no doubt at least heard of St. John’s Wort.
It’s been hailed as something of a depression cure all, and while there is some evidence suggesting that it does provide significant neurological effects, these claims are still being explored.
On top of that, there is a distinct possibility that its interactions with some pharmaceuticals could limit the plant’s effectiveness as a mood enhancer.
What is St. John’s Wort?
St. John’s Wort is a plant of the Hypericaceae family, distinguished from similar varieties as Hypericum Perforatum, or perforate St. John’s Wort.
It has value as a medicinal herb, believed to have abilities as both an antidepressant and anti-inflammatory agent.
Analyzing various studies, at least one team of researchers has concluded that the plant is as effective as standard pharmaceuticals when it comes to combating depression (and with fewer side effects).
In some countries, physicians are already using it clinically to treat various forms of depression.
Despite these facts, some professionals still have concerns over using St. John’s Wort wholesale to treat depression.
In spite of the aforementioned review that indicated St. John’s Wort was superior to placebo during trials, the NIH maintains that:
“Two studies, both sponsored by NCCIH and the National Institute of Mental Health, did not have positive results. Neither St. John’s wort nor a standard antidepressant medication decreased symptoms of minor depression better than a placebo in a 2011 study. The herb was no more effective than placebo in treating major depression of moderate severity in a large 2002 study.”
They bring up some other valid points too, such as the fact that the herb might not help with all forms of depression and that current evidence is encouraging but not definitive.
There’s also the potential for St. John’s Wort to interfere with other medications, which they believe could result in some dangerous side effects.
Add on the fact that it isn’t approved by the FDA (meaning there are no standards in regards to how it is processed) and you can see why there might be trepidation about using it as a remedy.
Still, it is legal to obtain and use in the United States, and the compounds contained within are supposedly powerful in their effect.
Other Names for St. John’s Wort