For years Europeans have treated depression with a pill made from a wild plant called St. John’s Wort. In Germany, it’s as popular as Prozac. Now, for the first time, a major study is about to test the effectiveness of this alternative medicine.
Karen has a sunny disposition now, but just a few months ago… life felt bleak. “I just was going through a period when I realized that I would come home and sit at my kitchen table and feel like crying, and I wasn’t sure why,” says Karen.
For help, Karen turned to this flowering plant. It’s called St. John’s Wort. In Europe, it’s widely used to treat depression in pill and liquid form, and health stores here have trouble keeping it on the shelves.
Dr. Jonathan is heading up the first major American study of the herb’s effect on depression.
“Even though it has come from, as we say, from alternative medicine, there’s no doubt that many of my colleagues are as interested as I am in finding out whether or not it’s effective.”
A British study showed 55 percent of patients taking the herb felt less depressed. Doctors believe the sense of well being is triggered by a substance called hypericin.
Dr. Beverly believes in the herb’s effectiveness, but she still doubts it will test well since many issues can cause depression.
Beverly, holistic practitioner, “If you don’t address those other issues and simply say, ‘Here’s this one pill that’s going to fix it,’ it doesn’t give it as good a chance to work.”
It seems to work for Karen. “I got my sense of humor back. I found myself laughing a lot more,” she says.
And for that… she thanks this little flower.
Results from the study will be ready in two years. St. John’s Wort has few side effects; however, it’s recommended you see your doctor before trying to treat depression yourself.