Herb not Effective for Depression

The herb St. John’s wort is commonly used as an anti-depressant, but new research shows it is not as effective for moderately severe depression as once thought.

Researchers from Duke University studied 340 patients with major depression. Patients received an extract of St. John’s wort, known as Hypericum perforatum, a placebo, or Zoloft (sertraline), an anti-depressant. Researchers measured the level of depression among patients throughout the study.

Authors of the study found, “On the two primary outcome measures, neither sertraline nor H. perforatum was significantly different from placebo.” They saw a full response in 31.9 percent of the patients on the placebo compared to only 23.9 percent of the patients who received H. perforatum and 24.8 percent of those who received sertraline.

The St. John’s wort extract and the sertraline were associated with more negative effects than the placebo, such as diarrhea, nausea and sweating. After evaluating results, researchers say the use of H. perforatum cannot be supported until further trials show its effectiveness.

Authors of the study conclude, “According to available data, Hypericum should not be substituted for standard clinical care of proven efficacy, including antidepressant medication and specific psychotherapies, for the treatment of major depression of moderate severity.”

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