St. John’s Wort: Elevating Mood

St. John’s Wort: Elevating Mood

Named after St. John the Baptist because its yellow flowers are said to bloom around June 24, the anniversary of his execution, this plant is the fastest growing herbal mood-booster on shelves today In Germany, it is prescribed four times more often than Prozac, making it the nation’s most popular antidepressant.

More than a score of studies have shown that the plant Hypericum perforatum is effective in treating mild to moderate depression–and with fewer of the adverse effects, such as lowered libido, that accompany standard antidepressants. That record has led the National Institutes of Health to initiate the first U.S. clinical trial of the plant.

Researchers are investigating exactly how St. John’s Wort works. One focus of interest has been hypericin, a plant compound that scientists believe may regulate brain chemicals, such as serotonin and monoamine oxidase (MAO), that are critical to mood.

How to Take It: The recommended dose is 300 mg three times daily of extract standardized to 0.3% hypericin.

According to Germany’s Commission E, St. John’s Wort does not interact with other drugs. However, the U.S. Pharmacopoeia advises anyone taking the remedy to avoid antidepressant drugs, including MAO inhibitors and serotonin reuptake inhibitors (for example, Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft).

Possible side effects include abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, dizziness, dry mouth, nausea and fatigue. Pregnant and lactating women are advised to avoid St. John’s Wort.

COPYRIGHT 1999 Sussex Publishers, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group