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Depression
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Depression

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MENTAL HEALTH

Emotional & Mental Health

Complementary and alternative medicine

Hypericum perforatum (St John's wort) In Depression 

Introduction

St. John's wort latin name - Hypericum perforatum is derived from Greek and means "over an apparition," a reference to the belief that the herb was so obnoxious to evil spirits that a whiff of it would cause them to depart.

Hypericum perforatum has been used for thousands of years by traditional healers as a botanical medicine. In Germany, hypericum is used to treat first and foremost, mild to moderate depression as well as anxiety and sleep disorder. In Germany, approximately three million prescriptions for hypericum are issued and almost 66 million daily doses of hypericum preparations are consumed annually.

St. John's wort has a long history of folk use. Long before depression was isolated as an illness by traditional western medicine, the symptoms of depression -- worry, "nervous unrest," sleep disturbances, and others -- were treated in folk medicine by St. John's wort. 

Hypericum is currently being medically studied as a treatment for AIDS, several forms of cancer, bed wetting and night terrors in children, skin diseases such as psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, peptic ulcers, and even hangover. From the viewpoint of traditional western medicine, we seem only at the threshold of hypericum's proven usefulness.

Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Herbs reports:
In herbalist treatment, hypericum is almost invariably the first choice for the treatment of Depression

  • St. John's wort has been used in the treatment of wounds (it has powerful antibacterial and antiviral properties), kidney and lung ailments, and what we would now call depression.

  • St. John's wort is said to soothe the digestive system.

  • In particular, its ingredients were thought to relieve ulcers and gastritis

  • The herb was called on as a folk medicine for diarrhea and nausea

  • Bruises and hemorrhoids are said to respond to it. 

  • It has served as a sedative, painkiller, and analgesic. 

  • The blossoms of St. John's wort have been added to sweek oil (a refined olive oil used medicinally) for a soothing dressing for cuts. 

  • Herbalists credit it with increasing and inducing a sense of well-being. In modern herbal medicine, St. John's wort is used first and foremost to treat depression

Vital Cautions:  

  • If you are having suicidal thoughts, and you think you even may act upon them, please get emergency medical help at once. Call a suicide hotline, your physician, your therapist, your religious counselor, or 911. Suicidal thoughts are a natural part of depression. Any plan to act on these thoughts is a danger signal that you must get help at once. 

  • If you are taking prescription antidepressants, do not alter your dosage or combine with hypericum without first consulting your doctor. Do not take hypericum if you are taking an MAO inhibitor. 

  • If you have a preexisting medical or psychiatric condition, please consult your doctor before taking hypericum. 

  • Although they are few and generally mild, you should carefully consider the side effects of hypericum before taking it. For example, the extensive use of St. John's wort in 2,400 years of folk and herbal medicine as well as the twenty-million people in Germany who have been taking hypericum for more than a year and have not reported any long-term side effects different or more prevalent than those of the shorter-term medical studies. 

Some of the most troublesome side effects of prescription antidepressants -- reduced sexual drive or dysfunction, adverse interaction with alcohol or other drugs, dry mouth, and headache -- were not reported by patients taking hypericum. 
Further, hypericum's side effects went away soon after the patients stopped taking it. There were no "nonreversible" side effects; that is, no permanent harm was done and all side effects were quickly reversed as soon as the patients no longer took hypericum. 

The side effects of hypericum are mild, indeed, when compared to the symptoms of depression. At the extreme are the 21,000 suicides (70 percent of all suicides) that are a direct result of untreated depression. Studies have shown that for every suicide there are ten unsuccessful suicide attempts and one hundred people who are seriously contemplating suicide. 
Untreated depression is the number-one cause of alcoholism, drug abuse, eating disorders, and other addictions. A significant percentage of divorces, spousal and child abuse, absenteeism from work, lost jobs, and bankruptcies are attributed to untreated depression

Compared with the symptoms of depression, the side effects of hypericum seem insignificant. For most people suffering symptoms of depression, the potential benefits far outweigh the possible risk of taking hypericum. 

The low side-effect profile of hypericum -- especially when taken in the dosage recommended for the treatment of depression -- puts it in the category of herbs, vitamins, minerals, and over-the-counter medications. 

Ever watchful for potential side effects, well-informed consumers can take hypericum with confidence.

 

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This information is provided for general medical education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient's medical condition.
In no event will The DrEddyClinic.com be liable for any decision made or action taken in reliance upon the information provided through this web site.

 


 



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