A herbal supplement, St. John’s Wort contains a number of medicinal ingredients which have been proven to treat mild to moderate depression and anxiety. Studies show that extracts from the plant help elevate levels of neurotransmitters (biochemical messengers) in the brain such as serotonin, which affect mood.
Research confirms that this herb is as affective as conventional psychotropic drugs in treating many forms of depression and has far fewer and milder side effects. St. John’s Wort is among the most extensively studied herbal remedies and is fast becoming the most frequently used antidepressant in the world.
In Germany where many of these clinical studies have taken place, St. John’s Wort is successfully used to treat depression eight times more often than prescription drugs.
Like all medications and supplements, herbal extracts must be taken consistently in the correct dosages to be effective. Clinical research suggests that 900 milligrams of St. John’s Wort taken in a divided dosage two or three times a day is required and it may take up to 4 to 6 weeks for any benefits to be noticed.
St. John’s Wort should not be taken for a prolonged period of time to treat severe clinical depression such as bipolar disorder. Also called manic depression, bipolar disorder is characterized by disruptive mood swings, from restless irritability and euphoria to low listless periods of depression.
Postpartum depression (PPD) is an illness that includes an array of physical and emotional changes that many mothers experience after having a baby. It can range from the common baby blues to much more pronounced depression. In some cases, St. John’s Wort is affective in treating PPD, however it should not be taken by pregnant women or breastfeeding women.