(NaturalNews) Numerous studies and years of extensive research suggest a natural herb known as St. John's wort not only treats the symptoms of depression, but also can chase those blues (and anti-depressants) away for good, with little to no side-effects.
Depression is one of the fastest growing health issues in the United States with more than 18.8 million sufferers. That's at least one in eleven people who currently have depression. Like all diseases, there is no pharmaceutical "cure" for depression. Treatment consists of drug therapies that have devastating side-effects including sexual problems, drowsiness, nausea, adrenal exhaustion, hormone imbalance, bone loss, tremors, constipation, headaches, anxiety, and suicide.
In addition, recent figures suggest that fewer than 30% of people become symptom-free on anti-depressants and those who do respond often slip back into major depression. With these less than promising statistics, people with depression are left with little hope of restoring the chemical imbalance that could lead them back to emotional happiness.
St. John's wort, a wild yellow flower regarded as a weed throughout most of the United States, has been used for centuries as a remedy for depression and anxiety, and its medicinal use was first recorded in ancient Greek texts. According to the American Journal of Natural Medicine and extensive German research, St. John's wort contains hyperforin; this natural substance inhibits the re-uptake of serotonin much like conventional anti-depressants which explains much of its success. St. John's wort has since been the subject of numerous peer reviewed studies:
In 1996, the British Medical Journal conducted 23 controlled trials involving over 1,750 outpatients with mild to moderately-severe depressive disorders. The results showed that St. John's wort was just as effective as prescribed anti depressants, and it had far fewer side effects.
Another British Medical Journal study testing 3,250 patients showed that only 2.4% experienced any side effects. The side effects (restlessness, sleeplessness, and allergic reaction) were so mild that they were declared clinically insignificant. In addition, unlike anti depressants, which are associated with thousands of deaths each year, there have never been any reported deaths from taking St. John's wort.
A Cochrane Systematic Review of 29 trials, which included 5,489 patients with symptoms of major depression, showed that St. John's wort extract was superior to placebos and was just as effective as standard antidepressants.
Other studies have shown that St. John's wort enhances positive emotions, elevates the mood, restores neurotransmitters to normal levels, and also shows promise in treating fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, sleep problems, and pain.
Critics of natural medicine would like people to believe that St. John's wort is of little or no benefit to those with depression, is no more effective than a placebo at treating depression, can be dangerous, and has not been studied enough. However, the vast amount of un-biased research would say otherwise. St. John's wort is the oldest known remedy for treating depression, has been subjected to more studies than any other anti-depressant, has fewer side effects (if any), has a higher success rate, is inexpensive, and is non-toxic to the body.
Depression is a devastating condition, whether mild or severe. Fortunately, there are alternatives to the anti-depressants, whose effects on the body are often more devastating than the condition itself. There's a reason why this simple plant is prescribed 20 times more than Prozac in Germany...because it works.
Linde, K., et. Al., St. John`s wort for depression. "An overview an meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials." British Medical Journal; 1996, 313(7052): 253-258.
Murray, M. Common questions about St. John`s wort extract. American Journal of Natural Medicine; 1997, 4(7): 14-19.
Bruce Baker, MD, "Quantitative Analysis of Sponsorship Bias in Economic Studies of Antidepressants," The British Journal of Psychiatry 2003, 183: 498-506.
About the author
Megan Heimer is a lawyer, natural health therapist, registered yoga teacher, has a bachelor's degree in political science, and will soon complete her doctorate in naturopathic medicine. She has extensive knowledge in holistic nutrition, natural health, and alternative medicine. Megan is currently conducting research on various natural health topics, writing a book, and counsels clients in natural healing all over the world. Check out her blogs at: www.megansmind-holisticwellness.blogspot.com and measrevolution.wordpress.com