Kelly's St. John's Wort pages for depression since 1997
What is St. John's Wort?
St. John's Wort is used as a natural, herbal alternative used to treat depression. It can be taken instead of standard antidepressants known as SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, a class of prescription antidepressants sold under trade names like Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, and many others). St. John's Wort itself is a plant found in nature (it's a weed, actually). It is harvested for its active ingredient, hypericin, and this is the "drug" that actually works for you. New research also points to hyperforin levels within St. John's Wort as being important as well.
Perhaps the biggest appeal of SJW is the fact that it's so widely available. It's safe, very effective (for most people), and you don't need to see a doctor to get it. Well, unless you live in Germany where it's sold by prescription only. High quality SJW can be as effective as a prescription antidepressant, and this has been proven by several scientific studies (linked to, below).
Since SJW is generally available over-the-counter in most countries, it's not a regulated like pharmaceutical drugs - therefore you should try to find the best quality brand that you can. It's not expensive. Occasionally people try to grow it themselves, but due to widely varying qualities you had best stick to a good, quality commercial brand (though even the qualities of these can vary widely, as you'll read about on the next page).
How does SJW compare to prescription antidepressants?
Read the scientific studies and see for yourself. Compared to some prescription antidepressants, SJW was found to be just as effective, but patients tolerated it better. That's because there are fewer side-effects.
Generally, SJW is used to treat mild or moderate depression. And although it's now scientifically proven to be effective, the exact mechanism by which the hypericin/hyperforin inside the St. John's Wort is not completely understood. It just works, for most people.
I don't believe that St. John's is a cure-all, nor is it the best (or only) choice for absolutely everybody who suffers from mild or moderate depression. There are some instances where standard prescription antidepressants have their place. I hope that in visiting this website you do not get the feeling that I am "promoting" St. John's Wort, because I am not. However, with millions of visitors, and nearly 30,000 messages on the subject, and thousands of people's experiences on this website, I'll let you make your own decisions.
Extreme cases of depression should still be treated with the help of your doctor or psychiatrist! Especially if you are already taking medication or several types of medication. Major depression is not something to treat lightly. But often it has to get really bad before you seek out help. That's how it was for me. Please, if you are unsure about what to do or where to turn, read my web pages but also consult your doctor!! But that being said, after you understand the potential side-effects and interactions (not many, but some are real), you probably don't have anything to lose by taking St. John's Wort. If you've never taken an antidepressant before and are somewhat reluctant to do so, reading up on SJW is a good place to look for help.
My own experience
One day many years ago, things got so bad that I called a support line. The person I talked to helped me through the night, and things got a little better. I told myself I just had to get myself better, so I put the worst things out of my mind for years. But then one day things got bad again and I went to a doctor. I knew exactly what I wanted, I'd heard about Prozac and all the others. I'd even read up on the symptoms over the Internet, and I knew I had depression. Five minutes into my appointment I had a prescription for Paxil. Mission accomplished. Thanks for the prescription, bud. He gave me Paxil.
Well, Paxil was a real mess for me. The side-effects were terrible, such as the "inability to orgasm," and I also experienced my first ever real panic attack. Then I looked into Paxil further and found out all the other side-effects that I might experience as well. And all the other types of anti-depressants had many side-effects listed too. No thanks. After taking it for a while I stopped taking it abruptly - the worst thing I could have done - and then my life turned upside down. Things went downhill fast. I hated the side-effects and knew there had to be an alternative out there. Out of desperation I found SJW and just started taking it, along with a bunch of vitamins, and and without much information or knowledge. That was late in 1996. Well, I was very lucky... and things have turned out wonderfully well. Since then, Paxil has been in the news quite a bit lately. It's been banned for adolescent use in the U.K. And a new Canadian study found that elderly patients taking Paxil were much more likely to commit suicide than without. Scary stuff! I'm glad I stopped taking that drug.
But this site isn't just about me. If you want to read more about my own story, my Paxil experience and why I created this website, there is some more information the about Kelly page. Now I try to keep a low profile despite millions of visitors to this website. But you might find it important to know a bit about the person who wrote these pages.
Let's keep moving.
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