St John’s wort – does it help depression?
There has recently been much press coverage regarding the use of herbal remedy St Johns Wort for the treatment of mild depression, which scientists recently deemed as ‘ineffective’ in a recent study.
However, Professor George Lewith, head of health research at the University of Southampton, has worked in complementary medicine for many years and has come across numerous studies which have found St John’s Wort to be effective and well tolerated.
Wide reviews have found the herb to be just as effective in treating mild to moderate depression as pharmaceutical medication such as SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors).
Professor Lewith has also expressed concern over the effect of the the recent report which could result in individuals taking St John’s Wort incorrectly ”Perhaps one of the most worrying aspects of this latest report is potential users will either be put off taking St John’s wort or assume it’s no more harmful than a placebo and become cavalier with it, buying it in the supermarket or online. I would urge caution. If you are feeling ‘low’ on a regular basis, perhaps irritable, moody, suffering insomnia and losing or gaining weight (all typical symptoms of depression), your first stop is not Sainsbury’s, but the GP.” He said.
Lewith will continue to recommend the herb to his patients where he feels it appropriate as he has always found it to be effective, well tolerated with few side effects and fewer withdrawal symptoms. However, he has stressed that a proper diagnosis should always be sought from your health care provider before choosing treatment methods.