St. John's Wort Contains Hypericin That Inhibits Monoamine Oxidase, A Bodily Chemical Associated

Published: 10th February 2006
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At least one out of every 20 Americans gets depressed each year, and many rely on anti-depressants to help them cope. A new study shows the herb St. Johns Wortmight be just as effective, and with fewer side effects.

About St. Johns Wort:
The August 3, 1996 issue of the British Medical Journal contains an analysis of approximately 25 studies that suggest that St. Johns Wort(Hypericum perforatum) is just as helpful as commonly used drugs, without side effects such as headaches or vomiting. Dr. Cynthia Mulrow, one of the studys authors, says the findings are not surprising. "Some of the commonly used medicines have a basis on herbs or have a basis in plants, and some of the ones were developed using plants.

Clinical Studies:
Not long ago, experiments were done where mice infected with viruses similar to HIV were given St. Johns Wort extract. The virus progress was halted. This led to testing on human HIV and AIDS patients. The results are inconclusive, though anecdotal information reports a significant improvement in some patients.

St. Johns Wort contains hypericin that inhibits monoamine oxidase, a bodily chemical associated with depression. It appears that hypericin does not act alone. Like many herbal medicines, St. Johns Wort relies on the complex interplay of many constituents for its antidepressant actions. Patients suffering from depression received relief, increased appetite, more interest in life, greater self-esteem and restoration of normal sleeping patterns.

St. Johns Wort is available as tea, tincture, decoction, oil, and in capsule form. Teas should be made with 1-2 cups of flowers per 1 cup of boiling water. This tea can be drunk three times daily. The dosage of the tincture is 1/4 to 1 teaspoon up to three times daily.

Perhaps most notable regarding St. Johns Wort extract for depression has been favorable comparisons to standard prescription antidepressive drugs. These include maprotiline hydrochloride and imipramine.

In a multicenter trial, 135 patients with depression were given either St. Johns Wort (900 mg/day) or imipramine (75 mg/day) for six weeks. Therapeutic success was determined using the HAMD, Clinical Global Impression (CGI), and Depression Scale according to Zerssen. HAMD score improved by 56% in the St. Johns Wort group versus 45% for the imipramine group. Differences on the CGI and Zerssen scales were slightly better for St. Johns Wort although not significantly different. Adverse reactions were reported in 16% of patients taking imipramine while only 12% of those taking St. Johns Wortexperienced side effects.

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