St. John's wort ( Hypericum perforatum) is a plant with yellow flowers that people in European countries have used for centuries to treat mild to moderate depression. In Canada, it is sold as a natural health product and can be found at health food stores and pharmacies.
St. John's wort is used in the short-term treatment of mild to moderate depression.
It may take up to 2 to 3 weeks for St. John's wort to improve depressive symptoms. Not all preparations of St. John's wort are the same. A standardized form means the amount of St. John's wort is the same in every capsule.
St. John's wort causes fewer side effects (such as digestive discomfort or headaches) than antidepressant medicines, although it may cause a rash with sun exposure.
St. John's wort may interact with medicines used to treat some other illnesses, such as AIDS. It is important to let your doctor or pharmacist know if you want to try St. John's wort so that he or she can determine whether it might interfere with other medicines you are taking.
The Natural and Non-Prescription Health Products Directorate (NNHPD), within the Health Products and Food Branch of Health Canada, regulates natural health products in Canada. Natural health products, including St. John's wort, must be reviewed and approved by the NNHPD before they can be sold in Canada.
Always tell your doctor if you are using a natural health product or if you are thinking about combining a natural health product with your conventional medical treatment. It may not be safe to forgo your conventional medical treatment and rely only on a natural health product. This is especially important for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
When using natural health products, keep in mind the following:
Other Works Consulted
Bongiorno PB, Murray MT (2013). Hypericum perforatum (St. John's wort). In JE Pizzorno, MT Murray, eds., Textbook of Natural Medicine, 4th ed., pp. 833–841. St. Louis: Mosby.
Linde K, et al. (2008). St. John's wort for major depression. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (4).
Szegedi A, et al. (2005). Acute treatment of moderate to severe depression with hypericum extract WS 5570 (St. John's wort): Randomised controlled double blind non-inferiority trial versus paroxetine. BMJ, 330(7490): 503–508.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineBrian O'Brien, MD, FRCPC - Internal MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Current as ofDecember 6, 2017
Current as of: December 6, 2017
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& Brian O'Brien, MD, FRCPC - Internal Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
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