St Johns Wort For Low Level Depression
St Johns Wort is a very good alternative treatment for low level depression in certain circumstances, but you should always check with a doctor first. This is a review based on my own personal experiences of its use.
- What is St Johns Wort?
- Cost & Availability
- How Well it Worked for me
- Side Effects I Encountered
- Do I Recommend St Johns Wort?
My personal background with depression is that I can't tolerate one particular anti-depressant and have therefore shied away from trying others as the effects of that one were so nasty. Having said that, I have only ever suffered very mild situational depression myself, which is quite different from more severe clinical depression of course. When I have struggled on a couple of occasions, I've taken St Johns Wort with my GP's blessing, and have always checked with him before starting taking it to make sure it won't interact with any of my other medications that I have.
If you are suffering from depression in any form, you should start by talking to your doctor about it, and looking at ALL the options that are available to you. Depression can be a very serious and debilitating illness, and isn't something that you should self diagnose. Help can come in many forms from prescription anti-depressants to talk therapies and complimentary therapies, but it's important to discuss the options before you make any decisions which to try.
What is St Johns Wort?
This yellow flowering herb is native to many parts of Europe as well as other places in the world, and it contains something called Hypericum which is the active element used in making herbal tablets, powders, capsules, oils, powders and tinctures that are sold for use in helping to combat depression and low moods.
The herbal remedy that can be bought varies hugely in terms of the amount of active content, so it's very important that you look carefully at what you are buying, and choose a product which contains a regulated amount of Hypericum per tablet/capsule etc. If the product you have isn't regulated properly or only gives the levels for St Johns Wort not Hypericum, then it may not work as well as it probably doesn't contain enough of the right element to help.
Cost & Availability
This is a bit of a tricky one. As I've mentioned, there are many types and lots of different strengths. I personally would avoid some of the cheapest versions, and have found that Holland & Barratt, and Goldshield both do versions which I've found beneficial, though I'm sure there are plenty of other good quality brands out there. Price can be exceedingly variable even within the same brand - I've paid over £10 a bottle on occasion, and on other occasions with special offers on paid less than £5 for the same product. As an example of this Holland & Barratt's online store have at times had a bottle of 100 tablets of St Johns Wort Extract capsules 900mg (standardised to contain 0.3% Hypericin 2.7mg) in stock for £6.99 and the same product in a 200 tablet bottle that will cost you £23.99 - more than 3x the price for only twice the amount!
How Well it Worked for me
I personally found that a regular dose of St Johns Wort was very helpful in getting me through some fairly low patches at times. I've never taken it for more than a few months at a time, and as I say I've always spoken to a doctor first.
The initial thing with taking this rather than a prescribed anti-depressant for me was to avoid the potential side effects I'd experienced once before, I was aware however that I might still experience some problems, and so was careful to monitor myself and to read literature before beginning taking it.
When I did begin taking this, I didn't experience the sleepy dopey feeling that I've had (and seen others suffer with) that often comes with beginning on anti-depressants. For me this is a real plus as I want to feel better, not begin by sleeping constantly (and on at least one occasion when I was struggling sleeping a lot was certainly NOT an option).
I guess it took about 3-4 weeks before I started to notice any lift in mood, and it was certainly a gradual thing. I didn't suddenly feel 'wellest' or even 'weller' than I had before, it was just a general feeling of not dreading opening my eyes in the morning, and as if the world wasn't quite as dark a place as it had been.
Overall, for me this has at times been a very good way of coping with situations while waiting for those situations to improve or change. It has lifted my mood and made me feel I could cope a lot better with things when I needed to.
Side Effects I Encountered
I only really struggled with one side effect from the St Johns Wort, and that was that I became more sensitive to light. In the summer months I combated this by wearing sun glasses, but on one occasion when taking this, it was during winter time and I only really noticed the same side effect when it snowed and everything was bright white everywhere. Then I struggled with watery eyes and the feeling that everything was just a little bit TOO bright. I found myself squinting more and more, and my eyes ached a bit from the brightness.
Do I Recommend St Johns Wort?
If you're struggling with situational depression - i.e. a situation which is causing you to feel lower than normal, but which won't last - then I'd say this may be something you could consider trying. I would still however recommend discussing it with your own GP before you go out and buy any however, as even with herbal medications there are issues you need to be aware of and certain health conditions and other medications along side which you should never take this.
If your depression is more severe, longer standing, or caused by something which isn't likely to change soon, then this may not be the right route for you to take, or alternatively you may need some form of therapy to go along side it.