The Cleveland Clinic

Depression:
St. John's Wort for Treating Depression

If you surf the web or read your local newspaper, you've probably seen something about herbal supplements and their role in treating depression . While dozens of people swear by it, St. John's wort is still considered to be an alternative therapy by many experts.

A wild yellow flower considered to be a weed throughout most of the U.S., St. John's wort has been used for medical purposes in other parts of the world for thousands of years. Named for St. John the Baptist (because it blooms around the day of his feast), St. John's wort is continually being studied to try to validate its alleged benefits.

Over 30 clinical studies have been conducted over the past 22 years to evaluate the effectiveness of St. John's wort. The most recent scientific trials in the U.S. showed that St. John's wort is effective for mild depression but no better than placebo treatment for more severe cases of depression.

While the true benefits of St. John's wort are still being explored, if you do choose to use it, there are some things you need to know.

How Do I Take St. John's Wort?

Both the leaves and the flowers of St. John's wort are harvested, dried, and put into liquid or pill form. The dried leaves may also be used as a tea.

Typically 2-4 grams of powdered St. John's wort is taken three times a day for several weeks. It may also be taken twice a day as a tea made with 1-2 teaspoons of the dried herb.