Dr. Kathleen Kendall-Tackett on St. John’s Wort-3

This is the third article in a five-part series on St. John’s Wort, an herb with antidepressant properties. Part 3, Safety Concerns Safety ConcernsTaken by itself, St. John’s wort has an excellent safety record, with a very low frequency of adverse reactions (Ernst, 2002; Humphrey, 2003; Muller, 2003). Approximately 2.4% of patients who take St. … Continue reading

Dr. Victoria Hendrick on Alternative PMAD Treatments

The use of alternative treatments, including acupuncture, homeopathy, herbs, dietary supplements, massage and relaxation techniques, for depression is becoming increasingly widespread. However, few studies have examined these alternative treatments for depression occurring in the postpartum period.

Series by Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, Ph.D. (St. John’s Wort #5)

St. John’s wort is another effective alternative to antidepressants that may be more acceptable for some women. Its standard use is for mild-to-moderate depression, but it has also been used for major depression. Some cautions are in order. Even though St. John’s wort is a “natural” alternative to medications, it too is a medication and should be treated as such. It should never be used with antidepressants.

Series by Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, Ph.D. (St. John’s Wort #4)

St. John’s wort is generally safe to take while breastfeeding (Dugoua et al., 2006; Hale, 2006; Humphrey, 2007). In a case study, Klier and colleagues (2002) examined

Series by Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, Ph.D. (St. John’s Wort #3)

Taken by itself, St. John’s wort has an excellent safety record, with a very low frequency of adverse reactions (Ernst, 2002; Humphrey, 2003; Muller, 2003). Approximately 2.4% of patients who take St. John’s wort develop side effects. The most common are mild stomach discomfort, allergic reactions, skin rashes, tiredness, and restlessness…

Series by Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, Ph.D. (St. John’s Wort #2)

Researchers still do not understand the exact mechanism for St. John’s wort’s antidepressant effect. Linde et al. (1996) noted that hypericum extracts have at least 10 constituents that likely cause its pharmacological effects. St. John’swort is standardized by percentage of hypericin, one of the active constituents. Hypericin was once considered the primary antidepressant component. Researchers no longer believe that this is true…

Series by Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, Ph.D. (St. John’s Wort #1)

A large body of evidence indicates that St. John’s wort effectively treats depression (Sarris, 2007; Werneke et al., 2006). Most of the earlier research has been done in Germany, where St. John’s wort is widely used and, indeed, is the preferred treatment for depression. Standard antidepressants are tried only after St. John’s wort has failed (Linde et al., 1996; Wurglies & Schubert-Zsilavecz, 2006). Evidence for St. John’s wort’s effectiveness can be found in both review articles and in results of randomized clinical trials.

Review articlesIn a meta-analysis of 23 randomized trials, Linde and colleagues (1996) found that hypericum extracts were superior to placebos and were as effective as antidepressants in treating depression.