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A popular and controversial treatment for depression

St. John’s Wort is one of the most popular, and controversial, medicinal herbs used to treat depression. It has been shown to be effective for mild to moderate symptoms, but not for major depression. It is also used to treat anxiety.

St. John’s wort can be obtained in many forms: chopped or powdered or as capsules, tablets, tinctures, teas or skin lotions.

St. John’s Wort is generally well tolerated. In less than one percent of users, side effects have been found to be mild and included dry mouth, dizziness, digestive problems, sunburn, allergic reaction and sexual problems.

Scientific evidence regarding the effectiveness of St. John’s Wort for depression is mixed. According to the National Institutes of Health, an analysis of the results of 37 clinical trials concluded that “St. John’s Wort may have only minimal beneficial effects on major depression but may benefit people with minor depression; these benefits may be similar to those from standard antidepressants.”

St. John’s Wort is available by prescription in Europe.

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