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St. John's wort reduces depression | Meta-study

St John's wort really works against depression. This is evident from a meta-study that combined and re-analyzed data from three dozen previously published trials.

St. John's wort reduces depression | Meta-study

Eric Apaydin, an analyst at the American RAND Corporation, published a meta-analysis of 35 previously published trials in 2016, involving a total of nearly 7,000 people with depression.

In the studies, researchers used doses that were almost always somewhere between 500-1200 milligrams of extract per day. The subjects divided these doses over 2-3 intakes per day.

The extracts that the researchers used most frequently contained 0.3 percent hypericin and 1-4 percent hyperforin.

The subjects received no other drugs.

The chance of a significant decrease in depression was 53 percent higher in the supplementation group than in the placebo group. This is shown in the figure below, which is based on data from a total of nearly three thousand subjects.

Click on the figures below for a larger version.

St. John's wort reduces depression | Meta-study

St. John's wort reduces depression | Meta-study

The depression scores in the users of St John's wort decreased significantly more than in the subjects who received a placebo. That is what the figure above tells.

According to Apaydin's metadata, the depression disappeared slightly more often in subjects in the supplementation group than in subjects who received a placebo, but the difference was not significant.

In a number of studies, the researchers compared the effects of St. John's wort with those of regular pharmacological antidepressants. Both treatments were found to be equally effective. However, users of St John's wort reported fewer side effects.

St. John's wort reduces depression | Meta-study
Not all studies were of good quality, notes Apaydin. In addition, he notes that most subjects in the trials suffered from mild to moderate, and thus not severe, depression. He believes that this calls for some caution in the interpretation of the results of his meta-study.

On the RAND Corporation website, on Apaydin's bio page, [] we found a quote from him that you see on the right.

If you use medication, you can often not use St. John's wort, we would like to add to that. Supplementation activates enzymes involved in the breakdown of more than half of the drugs prescribed by doctors, which can reduce their effect.

Syst Rev. 2016 Sep 2;5(1):148.

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St. John's Wort

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