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St. John’s Wort for Depression. Does it really work?


Have you ever found yourself going through challenging times? Times when the joys of life seem distant, and even getting out of bed in the morning feels like a struggle? If these feelings sound familiar, you might be encountering signs of depression.

Perhaps you’ve wondered about a natural alternative to alleviate feelings of despair and melancholy. If so, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll delve into the remarkable world of St. John’s Wort for depression – a botanical remedy that has illuminated the lives of countless individuals grappling with symptoms of depression.

What is Depression?

Man with symptoms of depression. St. John's Wort for Depression"

Depression is a complex mood disorder that can significantly impact your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Its symptoms encompass feelings of sadness, a loss of interest in once-pleasurable activities, fatigue, changes in appetite and sleep patterns, as well as difficulties with concentration.

Depression stands as an emotional puzzle affecting millions across the globe. Conventional approaches in science and medicine have often regarded it as a “disease” demanding treatment through therapy and psychotropic medications. These medications can alter brain function, not only alleviating sadness and melancholy but also affecting the broader aspects of one’s life.

I have a personal connection to this issue; my mother, now 82 years old, has been prescribed medication for “endogenous depression” as diagnosed by her psychiatrist for more than four decades. Reflecting back on those years, I recall a time when she seemed to move through life in a haze, bearing the hallmark appearance of those reliant on psychotropic drugs: a weary gaze and a distant expression. It took decades and several consultations with psychiatrists to modify and gradually reduce her medication dosages.

What to do when you experience the first symptoms of depression?

When grappling with symptoms of depression, it’s crucial to keep in mind the three fundamental pillars of healing, as the issues you’re facing likely originate within one of these pillars. Depression, like any other ailment, essentially serves as your body’s way of signaling that there are underlying unresolved concerns. While medication can provide temporary relief, it doesn’t address the root of the problem.

If you find yourself contending with depression symptoms, seeking help is of paramount importance. If you’re aware of the specific issues troubling you, consider confiding in someone within your inner circle to discuss and explore potential solutions. However, if you lack a reliable support system among your family and friends, don’t hesitate to seek professional assistance. There exists a wide array of available treatments that can contribute significantly to your emotional well-being. Ideally, start by consulting with an integrative therapist or psychiatrist who dedicates the time to help you dissect all facets of your life. They can assist you in uncovering the underlying causes of your emotional distress and offer more enduring solutions beyond mere medication.

St. John’s Wort: Scientifically Validated Support

Beautiful picture of St. John's Wort flowers.

Let’s explore how the remarkable St. John’s Wort can provide relief.when you’re grappling with symptoms of depression. Conversely, if your symptoms reach a severe point where you feel unable to endure them any longer, it’s crucial to seek immediate professional assistance. Remember, every challenge, no matter how daunting, has a solution.

The use of St. John’s Wort in depression treatment isn’t just a fleeting trend; it’s backed by a wealth of scientific research. Key components of this herb, such as hypericin and hyperforin, exert their influence on neurotransmitters in the brain, aiding in mood regulation. Moreover, its anti-inflammatory properties suggest a positive impact on mental well-being.

In a 2008 study published in The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, it was established that St. John’s Wort effectively treats mild to moderate depression. The research indicated that its efficacy was on par with that of conventional antidepressants in this context.

Furthermore, a 2017 study featured in the journal Phytomedicine reaffirmed that St. John’s Wort matches the effectiveness of traditional antidepressants in managing mild to moderate depression, while also demonstrating a superior safety profile.

Addressing the Growing Problem of Depression and Anxiety

In recent decades, the prevalence of depression and anxiety disorders has surged dramatically, evolving into a significant global public health concern. It is estimated that as of 2020, there were 374 million individuals worldwide grappling with depression.

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As observed, cases of depression remained relatively stable and low during the early decades of the 20th century. However, from the 1960s onward, there has been a rapid and staggering increase, with more than a quintupling of cases in the last 60 years.

This underscores the growing necessity for holistic and complementary approaches to address the expanding burden of mental disorders. Natural therapies, such as the utilization of medicinal herbs like St. John’s Wort for depression, can serve as a valuable component alongside conventional treatments.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends natural and complementary therapies for mild to moderate cases, where plants like St. John’s Wort can provide substantial assistance without the potential adverse effects associated with psychotropic drugs.

When administered under the guidance of a healthcare professional, herbs like St. John’s Wort, Lemon Balm, or Valerian can offer valuable support in tackling these prevalent mental health challenges.

Understanding the Mechanism of St. John’s Wort for Depression

Illustration of brain neurotransmitters.

St. John’s Wort contains active compounds such as hypericin and hyperforin that can act on brain neurotransmitters such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. These neurotransmitters play a significant role in mood.

  • Serotonin is a neurotransmitter associated with happiness and well-being.
  • Norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter associated with energy and concentration.
  • Dopamine is a neurotransmitter present in various areas of the brain and is especially important for the body’s motor function.

St. John’s Wort can increase levels of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine in the brain. This can help improve mood, energy, and concentration. Additionally, it has been found to have anti-inflammatory properties, suggesting a positive effect on mental health.

Exploring the Benefits of St. John’s Wort

DepressionHelps alleviate symptoms of depression, promoting a more positive mood.
AnxietyMay reduce anxiety and stress, providing a sense of calm and tranquility.
InsomniaFacilitates sleep and improves sleep quality, combating insomnia.
PainSome people find relief from chronic pain, such as that associated with fibromyalgia.
InflammationHas anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce inflammation in the body.
Wound HealingTraditionally used to aid in wound and burn healing.
SkinCan contribute to healthier skin and help treat skin conditions like acne.
HairLinked to improved hair health and hair growth.
Immune SystemMay strengthen the immune system, helping to prevent illnesses.
Mood, Concentration, and MemoryBelieved to enhance mental clarity, focus, and memory.

How to Use St. John’s Wort Tincture

Utilizing St. John’s Wort Tincture in Your Daily Wellness Regimen

Incorporating the benefits of St. John’s Wort into your daily routine is made easy with the convenience of a tincture. It is recommended to take a daily dosage ranging from 300 mg to 900 mg, divided into two or three doses. However, it’s essential to prioritize your well-being by consulting with a professional Naturopath or your doctor before embarking on any supplement regimen.

Precautions and Contraindications

Image of a woman dealing with insomnia

St. John’s Wort is generally safe for most people. However, it can cause some side effects, such as photosensitivity, and paradoxically, it can cause insomnia and anxiety in some individuals during the initial doses.

  • Photosensitivity: St. John’s Wort can increase sensitivity to sunlight. This can raise the risk of sunburns and other skin problems.
  • Insomnia: St. John’s Wort may cause insomnia in some people. If you have trouble sleeping, it is important to talk to your doctor before taking St. John’s Wort.
  • Anxiety: St. John’s Wort can worsen anxiety symptoms in some people. If you have anxiety, it is important to talk to your doctor before taking St. John’s Wort.
  • Other side effects: St. John’s Wort can also cause other side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and diarrhea.

Prior to incorporating St. John’s Wort into your regimen, it’s crucial to engage in a dialogue with your healthcare provider or a certified Naturopath, particularly if you have underlying medical conditions or are concurrently using other medications that may potentially interact with it. For comprehensive information on its usage and contraindications, please refer to the accompanying product post.


St. John’s Wort is a gift from nature for those seeking a natural alternative in the fight against depression and other mood disorders. Its benefits go beyond improving mood, encompassing areas such as skin, sleep, and pain. If you are considering St. John’s Wort as part of your wellness approach, be sure to do so under the guidance of a professional Naturopath.

Frequently asked questions about St. John’s Wort

When can you expect St. John’s Wort to start working?

Typically, St. John’s Wort begins to show its effects in approximately 2-4 weeks. It’s advisable to continue the treatment for up to 8 weeks before assessing its effectiveness.

Are there any important contraindications to be aware of?

Avoid using St. John’s Wort if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or if you have underlying health conditions, such as liver or kidney disease.

What are the available forms of St. John’s Wort?

St. John’s Wort can be found in various forms, including capsules, liquid extracts, mother tinctures, and teas (tisanes).

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