The reported use and effectiveness of Hypericum (St John’s wort) on affective symptoms in a depression self-help group
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Authors: Dyson, R., Baldwin, D.S., Mayers, A.G., Tiernan, A. and Jenkins, G.
Journal: Primary Care Psychiatry
A recent meta-analysis suggested that Hypericum perforatum (St John’s wort) is an effective treatment for mild to moderate depression and may have a superior side-effect profile to some antidepressant drugs. The aim of this study was to assess the use of herbal remedies in treating depressive and anxiety symptoms, as reported by members of the UK self-help organization Depression Alliance using self-completed questionnaires. More than 50% of the 452 respondents reported using Hypericum, onequarter of whom also reported concurrent use of traditional antidepressants. Most of the sample reported sufficient symptoms for warranting a diagnosis of major depression, with the majority also describing symptoms suggestive of co-morbid psychiatric conditions. One-half of the Hypericum users experienced symptom improvement, which for most occurred within the first 4 weeks of use.
Response was better for those with mild as compared to severe symptoms and poorer for those taking Hypericum alongside other antidepressants. The responders were generally older than non-responders. Adverse effects were reported by one-quarter of users and were mostly psychological in nature. This retrospective survey indicated that use of herbal remedies was common in this population. Although often helpful in relieving symptoms, particularly in those with mild depression, there is a risk of adverse events and drug interactions