Herb for Depression: Patients report better results with St John’s wort than with drug

An extract from the herb St John’s wort is at least as effective in treating depression as a commonly prescribed anti-depressant, according to new research published on bmj.com, the website of the British Medical Journal.

St John’s wort and the anti-depressant drug Paroxetine were used in a trial to treat patients with moderate or severe depression. The researchers asked 301 participants of both sexes from German mental health centres to take part in the trial. The two drugs were taken by the patients aged 18-70 over a six-week period during 2000-2003.

At the end of the trial, half (61 out of 122) of those who took St John’s wort found their symptoms in decline, while only a third (43 out of 122) of those taking Paroxetine went into remission.

Participants also suffered more side effects by taking Paroxetine with 269 adverse effects being reported over the treatment period. Those taking St John’s wort reported 172 adverse effects, the most common in both cases being stomach disorders.

The authors support the use of St John’s wort as an alternative to treat depression and welcome more research in this area.

British Medical Journal, Feb 12, 2005