Quick Survey: Saint John's Wort Herb for Anxiety and Depression
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Saint John's Wort Herb for Anxiety and Depression

I regularly use vitamin/minerals, herbs, homeopathic remedies etc. At the present time, I have been experiencing anxiety and depression after a stressful year. I tried the herb, St. John's Wort (hypericum perforatum) for several weeks, but it did not help. Because I use homeopathic remedies often, I ordered some homeopathic hypericum and have been using the tablets for a few weeks. It is working well, but I don't know how long I should take it. Why isn't the homeopathic remedy being recommended for anxiety and depression?

St. John's Wort in its herbal form is an excellent remedy for mild to moderate depression. A comprehensive overview of 23 randomized trials on St. John's Wort was published in the August 1996 issue of the British Medical Journal . The authors concluded that hypericum extracts were more effective than placebo for the treatment of mild to moderately severe depressive disorders. The researchers also reviewed six studies that compared hypericum to a low dose of tricyclic antidepressants and found it to be equally effective. Dr. Michael Murray reports in his comprehensive book, Natural Alternatives To Prozac, (William Morrow, 1996) that a total of 1593 patients have been studied in twenty five double-blind studies with consistently favourable results. St. John's Wort has a low incidence of side effects and can be safely used for six to eight months or more. The dose can be reduced after two or three months where possible.

So why didn't it work for you? First of all, it doesn't work for everyone, only an estimated 70 percent of people. Secondly, there is a delayed onset of action, sometimes up to four weeks. So it may have worked if you had persisted for longer. Thirdly, the quality of the St. John's Wort currently available varies greatly and some preparations may contain no St. John's Wort at all. At a recent conference, Dr. Murray pointed out that there was more St. John's Wort being sold than there is raw material available.

Check for high quality whole herb preparations that contain .3 percent of one of the active ingredients known as hypericin. Another form of the whole herb that is highly effective is wild harvested in Greece and extracted during more than 1,000 hours of sunlight in extra virgin olive oil. I have had consistent good results with this St. John's wort oil which is manufactured by Flora.

Also St. John's Wort is not as effective for anxiety as it is for depression. Kava is a very useful herb for the treatment of nervous anxiety, restlessness and insomnia. Kava is a member of the pepper family native to the South Pacific.

Homeopathic preparations of St. John's Wort contain the herb in highly diluted form, and there are no side effects on a short term basis. Homeopathic remedies work in a completely differently manner than herbal remedies and are used for different reasons. Homeopathic hypericum is used for injury to nerves and trauma of the spine, head and tail bone. It can be also recommended for neuralgia, sciatica and headache after injury. It is used for depression but usually for depression that occurs after trauma, injury or surgery. Homeopathic hypericum should not be taken longer than 2 months without consulting with a homeopathic practitioner for further help and advice.

Finally, depression usually has a multitude of factors feeding into it. Other important aspects of a holistic approach to depression include improving the overall diet and eliminating coffee, alcohol, sugar and sugar substitutes. Food allergies can contribute to depression and can be determined through an elimination diet. There are often nutritional factors in depression. Deficiencies of folic acid, vitamin-B-12 vitamin-B-6 and essential fatty acids are very common. Regular exercise, and learning some stress management technique like meditation are also recommended.

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