Role of St. John ‘s Wort in treating Depression

In the Whole World, 300 million people are suffering from depression. While some people prefer to reduce their depression levels by using natural remedies even though it can be effectively treated by drugs.

If you want to treat your depression problem naturally, using this medicinal plant is the best option for you.

What do you mean by St. John’s Wort?

St. John’s Wort is a wild plant botanically known as Hypericum Perforatum. This medicinal plant is originated in Europe and Asia. People can make capsules and tea with the help of the dried plant’s flowers and buds.

Before using this capsule for depression, it has been used to treat conditions like insomnia, seasonal affective disorder, and anxiety issues. People used to use this medicinal plant as an oil by applying directly to their skin other than using in the form of capsules, tea, or liquid extracts.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US, classed this medicinal plant as a dietary supplement but not as a prescription drug for depression.

How it Works

It’s still unknown to the researchers how St. John’s Wort effects on your body, but it works similarly like antidepressants. People are benefitted from this medicinal plant because of its active ingredients such as hypericin, hyperforin, and adhyperforin. These ingredients will help to increase the levels of serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline. Surprisingly, this capsule does not have side effects like loss of sex drive, erectile dysfunction which are present in prescription antidepressants.

Is this drug effective as Antidepressants?

Yes, it may be as effective as antidepressants and the previous research studies also supporting the use of St. John’s Wort in order to reduce depression levels.

An in-depth review of 35 studies conducted in the year 2016 found that St. John’s Wort:

  • Managed to reduce the levels of depression more than a placebo
  • Managed to reduce the symptoms of depression levels like prescription antidepressants
  • Fewer side effects compared to prescription antidepressants
  • Does not effect people’s sex drive, which is a common side effect of antidepressants

However, it is effective in treating mild to moderate depression and also have fewer side effects.

What are the other potential benefits of using St. John’s Wort?

Researchers have also been researched on St. John’s Wort for treating other conditions, including

  • PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome): A study found that this medicinal plant managed to reduce the symptoms of Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and this treatment was more effective than placebo treatment. But still, researchers need to determine whether St. John’s wort effective in improving physical and behavioral symptoms of Premenstrual Syndrome.
  • Wound Healing: A study found that it has been worked pretty well in treating Wounds, bruises, pressure sores, burns, and hemorrhoids.
  • Menopause: One small study found that St. John’s Wort shrubby herb extracted liquid managed to reduce the symptoms of Menopause, when compared to a placebo treatment.
  • SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder): There is no accurate evidence that the use of St. John’s Wort can control this form of depression.
  • Cancer: Hypericin is an ingredient present in St. John’s Wort that can inhibit tumor cell growth. But, this drug is not recommended to use in cancer treatment due to the other cancer medications.

However, some researches suggest that using this medicinal plant can be helpful in treating obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and also help people quit smoking.

But, there is no clinical evidence to support these researches.

What are the things should we consider before taking this medicine?

Following are the things we should keep in mind before using this drug for depression

Side Effects: Most of the people won’t experience any side effects by using this medicine. But, some people reported that they are having trouble sleeping, fatigue, rashes on skin, irritability, and upset stomach.

But researches support this drug as it has fewer side effects compared to antidepressant drugs. This medicinal plant capsule can cause a sensitivity to sunlight, both for the skin and eyes on rare occasions.

You should also be aware that the side effects caused by St. John’s Wort are the common symptoms of depression. That’s why you should know your problem completely before using this medicine.

Pregnancy and Breast-Feeding:

Researchers conducted observation studies on St. John’s Wort at the time of taking this capsule during pregnancy. They found that this capsule is not affecting the Preterm birth rates but they observed a risk of malformation in one of the studies.

Also, some clinical evidence suggests that St. John’s Wort can reduce the sperm count and cause infertility. However, for treating postpartum depression midwives often recommend this capsule to their patients.

Only a small number of studies have been conducted regarding the effects of St. John’s Wort on breastfeeding. However, researchers found that there are no side effects in breastfed babies.

It’s better to avoid using this drug as there is no clinical evidence to use this drug during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Withdrawal Symptoms:

There is no evidence that St. John‘s Wort will cause withdrawal symptoms. But, few people claimed after taking this drug abruptly that they are experiencing symptoms like dizziness, anxiety, and sickness.

In order to be in a safe zone, it’s better to reduce your dosage before you would like to stop using this medicine.

Is it safe to use this drug when you are on other medications?

You will be in trouble if you are using St. John’s Wort when you are on other prescribed medications. In most of the cases, it decreases the effects of other drugs or increase them, but it will ultimately result in severe side effects. It is better to discuss it with your doctor before using this drug with other commonly prescribed medications.

Take a look at the following medications:

  • Antidepressants: If you are taking St. John’s Wort along with antidepressants, it will result in too much raise in serotonin levels and can lead to a rare condition called Serotonin Syndrome.
  • Birth Control Pills: Unexpected bleeding can occur mid-cycle if you use this drug along with birth control pills. It will result in reducing the effectiveness of birth control.
  • Warfarin: Warfarin function is to prevent heart attacks, strokes, or blood clots but this anticoagulant blood-thinning medication does not work if you are taking this medication along with St. John’s Wort as it will result in increasing the risk of blood clots.

  • Cancer Medication: Research studies have shown that the combined use of cancer medications and St. John’s Wort will result in reducing the effectiveness of cancer drugs.
  • Xanax: Don’t use this anxiety medication along with St. John’s wort as it will result in reducing the effectiveness of Xanax.

Dosage of St. John’s Wort

There are many forms in St. John’s Wort such as teas, tablets, extracts, capsules, and oils for the skin. The standard strength of this medicinal plant is 0.3% hypericin.

However, it is not recognized as a drug by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), that is why it becomes hard to determine the correct dosage for St. John’s Wort.

But, some research studies have shown that taking 300 mg three times a day in order to reduce the symptoms of depression.


Some observational studies have shown that St. John’s Wort can reduce the symptoms of mild and moderate depression as effectively as antidepressants.

Additionally, there is clinical evidence that the use of St. John’s Wort can reduce the symptoms of menopause, Wound Healing and for the treatment of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS).

If there is good, definitely there will be a bad, if you are taking this drug with other commonly prescribed medications it will result in severe side effects and also reduces the effectiveness of other medications.

It’s better to speak to your doctor before you would like to use it for your problem.

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