St. John’s Wort has become popular as an effective solution to treat depression naturally.
A 2009 government survey reports 1 in 13 adults (18 and older) experienced at least one bout of major depression annually. The study found that less than one-third of those individuals were treated for their depression.
People are often reluctant to seek medical help for several reasons, including the cost of medication and its side effects. Solutions to treat depression naturally should be considered as an ethical first step in feeling better.
Solutions to Treat Depression Naturally
A concentrated herbal extract made from St. John’s Wort has been researched to treat depression naturally . One study, consisting of 23 randomized trials including a total of 1757 outpatients with mainly mild or moderately severe depressive disorders, was published in the British Medical Journal.
The study found that St. John’s Wort (Hypericum extracts) were similarly effective as standard antidepressants. Also, there were only two (0.8%) drop outs due to side effects with hypericum and seven (3.0%) with standard antidepressant drugs. And side effects occurred in only 50 (19.8%) patients on hypericum, as opposed to 84 (52.8%) patients on standard antidepressants.
St. John’s Wort also contains an inhibitor of serotonin reuptake, which is responsible for the recycling of serotonin back into the “sending” cell. By inhibiting serotonin reuptake, more serotonin is left in the synaptic cleft between adjacent nerve cells, which increases the serotonin stimulation of the adjacent (postsynaptic, or “receiving”) cell.
Compared to synthetic pharmaceuticals, St. John’s Wort may be a better solution to treat depression naturally. Studies indicate that St. John’s wort:
- Is a safe and effective way to treat mild to moderate depression over long periods of time
- Is similarly effective as standard antidepressants
- Has fewer side effects than standard antidepressants
A Swiss study evaluated 440 patients suffering from mild to moderate depression and treated them with 500 mg. of St. John’s wort for up to one year. Although mild side effects such as upset stomach were reported—which may or may not have been related to the treatment—the researchers reported that St. John’s wort is a safe and effective treatment for mild to moderate depression over long periods of time. They also found that it is especially suitable for preventing a relapse.
An Australian randomized, controlled trial used a combination of St. John’s wort and Kava to treat 28 adults with major depression and anxiety disorders. First, the participants were given a placebo for two weeks. Then, over two four week periods, some were given St. John’s wort and Kava, and others were given placebo. In the end, the individuals who took the supplements experienced less depression and anxiety.
No serious side effects were observed during the trial, and only two cases of gastrointestinal upset were noted.
Researchers at the Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran recently published a meta-analysis (an analysis of the results of several studies) comparing St. John’s wort to pharmaceutical antidepressants (SSRIs). After analyzing 13 randomized placebo controlled clinical trials they found that, overall, St. John’s wort is just as effective as pharmaceutical drugs for the treatment of depression, and that it has an advantage because it doesn’t produced any side effects.
A meta-analysis at the Centre for Complementary Medicine Research, Department of Internal Medicine, Technische Universitaet Muenchen, Munich, Germany analyzed 29 trials (which included 5,489 patients), comparing St. John’s wort with placebo or standard antidepressants. The evidence suggests that the hypericum extracts tested in the trials 1) are superior to placebo in patients with major depression; 2) are similarly effective as standard antidepressants; c) and have fewer side effects than standard antidepressants.
SSRIs remain the most popular treatment for depression and anxiety disorders. But fewer than 50% of all patients have total success with these drugs and significant side effects are common.
Based on the latest studies comparing St. John’s wort to placebo and SSRIs, it is safe to say that St. John’s wort is a proven safe and effective alternative to synthetic SSRIs, and does not produce adverse side effects. St. John’s Wort is an ethical solution to treat depression naturally.
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