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kenmc's avatar

What are your thoughts and experiences with/about St. John's Wort?

Asked by kenmc (11746 points ) November 25th, 2010

I’ve been suffering from moderate depression (undiagnosed, no insurance) lately and I’ve heard for a long time that St. John’s Wort is an herbal supplement that aids that ailment. And apparently, science agrees.

But I’m curious about people’s opinions. What are yours on the supplement?

And I know similar questions have been asked, but from what I’ve seen, none of them answered what I’m asking.

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26 Answers

Nullo's avatar

From what I’ve read, St. John’s Wort has stimulant properties, and has been known to cause cardiac irregularities in fleas.
My own policy on alternative medicine is that less is more. Medicine in general, really; I only take what I must.

Physical exertion has been proposed as a treatment for depression, and my own experience is that having a plan helps, as well.

faye's avatar

A co -worker and friend, registered nurse, swears by it. It reacts with a lot of prescribed drugs so check if you take other drugs. I tried it for a long time and can’t say yay or nay. It’s not expensive to try.

El_Cadejo's avatar

Ive heard some positive things about it. We’ve talked about it in my herbal medicine class and looked at some studies. It seems to work pretty well. The thing is though you need to be on it for some time before it starts really taking effect. So the first couple weeks are just getting the compounds up to therapeutic levels in your body.

there is only one person I know who takes it however. My mom. She started taking it three or so months ago after some bad fighting with me and my sister (I think she may be bipolar) and instead of going to a dr and actually getting herself checked out she decided to just go with an herbal supplement. (she doesnt believe in medicines for mental issues) Since the time she has been on it she seems to have calmed down slightly but she still has regular mood swings and lashes out pretty badly as soon as something doesnt go her way.

gasman's avatar

You should read this article: A Skeptical Look at St. John’s Wort at Quackwatch.org, which concludes:
There is no published evidence that St. John’s wort is effective against severe or moderately severe depressions, which, in any case, should receive professional help. For mild depression, psychotherapy directed at resolving the cause of the depression would be more prudent instead of, or in addition to, drug therapy.

Also reliable info here, here, and here.

Blueroses's avatar

I always prefer trying supplements (as approved by my doctor before combining them) when I can. St. John’s Wort did absolutely nothing for me. Nada.

I do know a few people who say it helps them achieve a level mood, but for me, 5-HTP worked much better. Everybody’s different.

shpadoinkle_sue's avatar

I just did a whole project on St. John’s Wort for a pharmacy class this week. St. John’s Wort does seem to help with mild to moderate depression. Like with any other type of remedy, it works differently for people. I took one 300 mg capsule and it made me want to throw up all the next day. It basically helps beef up the serotonin in your brain which helps you feel less anxious and less depressed. You could try taking it with a little Valerian root or ginko biloba. It’s been shown to have the same efficacy as most drugs. St. John’s Wort works for moderate depression better than anxiety or severe depression, so I would still ask your doctor about it if you can. I hope it works for you.

downtide's avatar

I tried it at one point and it was no help at all. I guess my depression was too severe.

Paradox's avatar

Here is my own personal experience with St. John’s Wort and several other “natural” remedies for depression. They didn’t work for me personally and I even gave these remedies plenty of time to start working (like 3 months) and not even the remotest change. You can get Prozac very cheap at Wal-Mart (if you can get a prescription for it) and it works much better. Maybe others had better luck with it but that was my own experiences with “alternative” remedies for depression and anxiety.

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mattbrowne's avatar

100 tablets of amitriptyline 50mg cost $8.99 – a relative of mine is using it very successfully. Start with 25mg in the evening.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amitriptyline

It’s got a 50 year history.

marinelife's avatar

Just be careful to dose it properly (or it can have side effects). My brother had good luck with it helping his depression.

mattbrowne's avatar

Of course talking to a doctor first is a must. You need a prescription.

tranquilsea's avatar

It helps some people. Is that a placebo effect?

Just be aware that St. John’s Wort cancels out the effectiveness of the Pill. Many women found that out the hard way.

kenmc's avatar

I appreciate the responses, everyone. They were all helpful. Unfortunately, I can’t see a doctor. I don’t have insurance nor the means to pay in full for a visit. I figured St, John’s Wort would be worth a try. I bought some off amazon and fingers crossed, hopefully I’ll be one of the people that it can help.

@tranquilsea I’m not on the pill because of the whole having a penis thing :P

eoinfitz's avatar

I tried st. john’s wort for about 2 months, and I think I noticed a little bit of an improvement in my attitude, but its just as likely it was just sort of a placebo effect. Different things work for different people. For me, I never really turned my life around until I started smoking cannabis on a regular basis (a bowl before i went to bed, and maybe another at some point in the evening), but that was mainly because my depression had a lot to do with anxiety problems, and I really didn’t want to get involved with something like Prozac (my dad is a doctor and he’s told me way too many horror stories about it), so i decided to stay natural. The one obstacle to get over here is to change your mentality about weed from something you sit around and smoke with your friends and giggle, and just turning it into just another part of your routine. I am currently in my 3rd year of my biomed degree (with an A average :D), and I plan to become a clinical psychiatrist in the future. Hope this helps.

tranquilsea's avatar

@kenmc lol can you tell I rarely pay attention to someone’s avatar? At least the information is “out there”.

marinelife's avatar

@mattbrowne You don’t need a prescription for St. John’s Wort in the U.S.

Blueroses's avatar

@marinelife I think @mattbrowne was referring to his post about amitriptyline.

Garebo's avatar

I choose L-Tyrosine or/and L-Phenylalanine before SJW.
Tyrosine without a doubt helps my mood with the addition of L-Glutamine. Someone else mentioned 5-HTP which is helpful, but the real thing L-Tryptophan is much better. You probably had 200% of your RDA of Tryptophan yesterday even though there isn’t an official number for it.
Always pay the price and buy quality, however.

mattbrowne's avatar

What about pro bono medical care to get a diagnosis and a prescription? Besides, I thought Obama’s health care plan offers insurance to everyone!?

kenmc's avatar

@mattbrowne Obama’s health care plan didn’t do terribly much. There are no free clinics around me, either. I’ve looked.

gasman's avatar

@kenmc Gotta wait at least 4 years not to get all political or off-topic here : Starting in 2014, insurance companies cannot deny coverage to anyone with preexisting conditions…In 2014, everyone must purchase health insurance or face a $695 annual fine. There are some exceptions for low-income people… from CBS News

Nullo's avatar

@kenmc It depends on the doctor (I think), but you may be able to set up a payment schedule.
@gasman That ”or face a… fine” really bugs me. Not a right, not a privilege, but a duty that you are required to perform. One that wasn’t there before.

Garebo's avatar

ObamCare will solve it all, just watch what the Senators do!

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