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St John's Wort Extract

St John

Saturday, April 2nd 2005

Proven as Effective as Drug for Severe Depression.

A St John's Wort extract, produced by German group Schwabe, is at least as effective in treating moderate to severe depression as a commonly prescribed anti-depressant drug, finds new research out recently.

The findings are thought to be the first to demonstrate that the herbal can reduce depression symptoms in people with a severe form of the condition. SJW extracts have already been shown to help in patients with minor depression but in patients with more severe depression, the efficacy has been disputed.

In the online issue of the British Medical Journal (10.1136/bmj.38356.655266.82), they report that half of those who took St John's Wort for six weeks found their symptoms in decline, while only a third of those taking the widely used anti-depressant Paroxetine went into remission. Paroxetine is the generic name for GlaxoSmithKline's antidepressant Aropax. (NZ).

The team from Charite Medical School in Berlin and Dr Willmar Schwabe Pharmaceuticals recruited 301 men and women aged 18-70 from German mental health centers who had moderate to severe depression. They took either 900mg of the St John's Wort extract WS 5570 three times daily or 20mg a day of the anti-depressant drug Paroxetine, a well-known selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) drug, for six weeks.

Participants taking Paroxetine also suffered more side-effects, reporting 269 adverse effects over the treatment period compared to 172 adverse effects (most commonly stomach disorders in both groups) reported by those taking the herbal. This is important because severe depression has a high risk of chronicity.

Depression is currently the fourth most significant illness, affecting more than 120 million people worldwide.

"The results thus indicate that in a group of patients in whom the appropriateness of St John's Wort extract was previously disputed, the antidepressant efficacy of the herbal is at least comparable with the effect of one of the leading synthetic antidepressants, write the authors.

Dr Jochen Muehlhoff, from Dr Willmar Schwabe said "It will definitely have a big positive impact on sales to physicians who follow clinical trials closely.

Leading anti-depressant drugs, such as the one tested in this trial, make annual sales above US$1 billion.

WS5570 is available in New Zealand as Nature's Way Perika.

Reproduced unabridged from the April - June 2005 issue of Health and Herbal News, with the kind permission of Health and Herbs International Ltd.

Footnote from Ideal Health:

The following products are all useful for treating Stress & Depression:

5-HTP 120mg
Adrenal Formula
Adrenal Support
Clinical Strength St Johns Wort
Daily D
Magnesium Complex
Mineral Power
Multi Power
Super B Daily Stress +
Stress & Energy Support
Stress & Well-Being
Superior Magnesium
Supreme Hi-B-125
Whey Protein - Vanilla

Related health information can be found here:

Calcium Deficiency
Essential oils for your emotions
Hypericum St John's Wort - depression, NS complaints
Mineral Power

Related articles can be found here:

Mood, sleep, serotonin and 5-HTP
Listening To Music Can Reduce Chronic Pain And Depression By Up To A Quarter
The mood food connection
New Study Links Low Cholesterol to Suicide in Depressed Patients

If you need help or advice, you are welcome to email our naturopathic team with your health question.

Disclaimer: The health information presented here has been written for the New Zealand health consumer. It is of a general nature and is only intended to provide a summary of the subjects covered. The information is not intended to be comprehensive or to provide medical advice to you. While all care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, no responsibility or liability is accepted, and no person should act in reliance on any statement contained in the information provided. All health ailments should be treated by a qualified health professional.


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