Consumer Reports* chose St. John’s wort as one of its “11 Supplements to Consider” in 2010. The combination of flower, leaves, and stem are collectively referred to as the aerial (above ground) portion of the St. John’s wort plant that are used medicinally. St. John’s wort contains at least seven parts that may be associated with its biological effects.
Claims and Purported Use
St. John’s wort has been shown to be effective for improving symptoms of forms of depression*. Some studies have shown the St. John’s wort extracts are as effective as standard anti-depressant drugs, including anti-depressants in the SSRI (Prozac) family as a treatment for mild to moderate cases of major depression – and with significantly fewer side effects (Linde 2008, Szegedi 2005). But, three other highly recognized human studies showed not benefit with St. John’s wort. The differences in research findings are related to numerous factors such as outcomes being measured, the number of people in the studies, and the products tested. Most St. John’s wort products on the market do not meet quality testing, but those below do.
ST. JOHN’S WORT
Selected Potential Side Effects
St. John’s wort may cause insomnia, vivid dreams, anxiety, dizziness, headache, skin rash, and tingling. It can cause the skin to become extra sensitive to the sun.
Selected Drug Interactions
St. John’s wort can decrease the effectiveness of a wide range of drugs, including birth control pills, heart medications, HIV/AIDS drugs, and warfarin. Also, St. John’s wort may increase the effects of certain anti-depressants.
Reference Guide for Tested and True Dietary Supplements
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*reference: Consumer Reports Health