St. John's Wort Whips Depression

Munich & San Antonio -- Depression is a common disorder worldwide. While many medications exist that can dramatically reduce symptoms of depression, the potential side effects frequently limit their use. Extracts from plants have been used for a wide variety of maladies for centuries. Many of the drugs currently manufactured by the pharmaceutical industries are derivatives of chemicals from plants.

In a study published in the British Medical Journal (1996:313:253-8), Klaus Linde and associates reported findings of a review of 23 published reported trials, including 1757 patients, which indicate that extracts of the flowering plant, St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum), are indeed more effective than placebo for the treatment of mild to moderately severe depression.

The authors emphasize that many issues regarding the use of the St. John's Wort extracts remain unclarified. It is not known whether the extracts are more effective in certain types of depression than other types. It is also not yet known whether the extracts are as effective as traditional medications for depression, or even if they have fewer side effects.