SJW (Saint John's Wort)
St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum) is perhaps one of the safest and most effective natural antidepressants currently available. St. John's Wort is a shrubby perennial plant with numerous bright yellow flowers commonly found in dry, rocky, sunny soils. It grows especially well in northern California and southern Oregon and sometimes in Idaho and Montana. In fact, it is often listed as a weed, since it will crowd out other native plants and grasses quickly if not controlled.
It has historically been used as a nerve tonic and presumably also for treatment of depression and anxiety. We do not recommend this supplement for Blood Type O.
St. John's Wort is the most thoroughly researched herbal antidepressant. Over 25 double blind controlled studies have been done, including tests of St. Johns Wort versus tricyclics, imipramine, amitryptyline and desipramine - (all modern pharmacological antidepressants.)
St. John's Wort was shown to produce improvements in many psychological symptoms, including depression, anxiety. apathy, sleep disturbances, and feelings of worthlessness. However, the main advantages shown through these studies are not so much a difference in therapeutic outcome, but rather a significant advantage in terms of side effects and patient tolerance. St. John’s Wort was also proven to improve memory, sleep quality, and other mental activities. It did not interfere with REM sleep like other antidepressants, and was shown to increase the intensity of deep sleep as demonstrated by brain wave studies. While it improved sleep, it did not act as a sedative (i.e. it did not reduce the amount of time it took someone to go to sleep), nor did it change the total duration of sleep.
At the standard dosage of 300mg/day of .30% extract, St. John's Wort is virtually free of side effects - a common reason for stopping pharmacological antidepressants. In a German study involving 3,250 patients, results were analyzed with a patient questionnaire. Results indicate that symptoms of depression were reduced in frequency and intensity by approximately 50%. Of those 3,250 people in the study, 16 reported allergic reactions of some sort, and 18 reported mild to moderate gastric irritation. This means that the frequency and severity of St. John's Wort is clinically insignificant - especially when compared with the well known side effects of the tricyclics and other prescriptive anti-depressants.
It is essential to use St. John's Wort extracts that are standardized (guaranteed potency) to contain .30% hypericin. This allows you to know that you are getting the proper dosage of the active ingredients. I recommend a USA or Europe made product only.
RECOMMENDATION: 1-2 300mg. Capsules in the morning for 2 - 3 weeks, followed by a phone visit to review how you respond. There have been isolated case reports of interaction of SJW with drugs to treat HIV. This has lead to recommendations that certain drugs for epilepsy, heart disease and anti-rejection drugs be used with caution at doses of 900 mg/day. Discuss this with your health care provider.
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