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St. John’s Wort as a Depression Treatment: Does it Work?

Using St. John's Wort as a Depression Treatment

 

It was a weird feeling the first time I stepped into my vitamin shop and darted toward the “mood and sleep support” section. Until that point, I did not know the section existed.

But I was on a mission.

I glanced over the labels searching for what I had originally come in for, but I couldn’t help but be distracted by the plethora of herbals and vitamins meant to ease depression, anxiety, ADHD, and insomnia.

Everything from:

-SAMe

-5-HTP

-Melatonin (for insomnia)

Saffron Extract

Wow, I thought. A whole new world.

But did they work?

I held the bottle of St. John Worts in my hands:

“Shown to help boost levels of serotonin in the brain,” the label read.

That was what I came in for after reading various studies on its effectiveness. I threw the bottle in my cart and prayed it would make a difference.

Could this be the answer I was looking for?

It was worth a try. After all, I had spent the last few months in a dark hole.

Personally, I did not want to go back on antidepressants. I could not risk the side effects I endured the first time around. There had to be a natural alternative that I could try along with improving my diet and exercise regimen.

I walked to the register, handed the cashier my credit card and headed home optimistic for the first time in a long time.

Did it work?

It did, actually. It was far from a life changer but it definitely helped improve my mental state. It made enough of a difference that I was able to do healthier things like exercise and eat better without feeling like I was carrying a backpack of bricks. My emotional load lightened, and I felt some relief. The effects were stronger initially and then wore off, but I still take it to alleviate my symptoms with positive results.

Overall, I wish someone would have told me about supplements that help with depression.  They rarely are talked about. Mostly, we hear about using antidepressants or changing our diet and exercise routine.  There are a variety of supplements that can help with depression and anxiety.  For some, they are able to stop taking medication altogether due to taking supplements.  Still, it is crucial to talk to your doctor before using herbals or going off antidepressants.

What is St. John Worts?

I first learned about St. John Worts from doing a quick google search for “alternatives to antidepressants.” St. John Worts is a flower that grows in the wild. For centuries, St. John Worts has been used for health purposes.

St. John’s Wort may help with some types of depression, however, not everyone will benefit from the use of St. John Wort.

It is important to note that it is not recommended to combine St. John Wort with certain antidepressants as it can lead to a potentially life-threatening increase in serotonin. I have written about serotonin syndrome in the past.

Furthermore, St. John’s Wort can weaken many prescription medicines, such as:

  • Antidepressants
  • Birth control pills
  • Cyclosporine, which prevents the body from rejecting, transplanted organs
  • Digoxin, a heart medication
  • Some HIV drugs
  • Some cancer medications

If you are on any medications, please talk to your doctor prior to taking St. John Wort.


While herbals are not for everyone, they do work for some. Have you considered talking to your doctor about using herbal supplements? What have you tried? Mental illness and addiction should never be stigmatized. Therefore, if you are struggling, please reach out for help. We are one phone call away. Call now. 

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