Depression and St. Johns Wort

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Depression and St. Johns Wort

Postby Judy L » Sat Jan 17, 2004 9:54 pm

Hi all,

Does anyone know why St. Johns Wort is contraindicated for severe depression?

Blessings,
Judy L
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Postby sapphire kate » Sat Jan 17, 2004 11:29 pm

I don't think it is contra-indicated for severe depression.

SJW is contra-indicated if one is taking anti-depressants, although I am not sure if this is research based or is theoretical.

SJW has been shown in clinical trials to be as effective for mild and medium depression as some anti-depressants. I think some studies did show it as ineffective in severe depression when compared to pharmaceuticals, but I haven't had a close enough look at the research to know if this is reliable.


<blockquote id="quote"><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote">The Journal of the American Medical Association, (JAMA) Vol. 285, No. 15, presented the results of a Randomised controlled trial by Shelton, R.C., et al, which the authors claimed negated all the previous studies but it was studying the markers on the Hamilton rating scale for major depression and did not compare the use of St. John's wort with other anti-depressants. No other study has been carried out using St. John's wort for major depression.<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">

from this article written in June 2001:

http://www.herbcollege.com/herbofthemonth.asp?id=18
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Postby sapphire kate » Sat Jan 17, 2004 11:46 pm

I just did a google for "severe depression" + "st john's wort" and got over 17,000 hits. I don't have time to research this at the moment, but would be very interested in anything anyone comes up with.


I also think that it might be interesting to see what herbalists say about st john's wort and severe depression. I know that some herbalists used to say that SJW was contra-indicated for depression in general. While others said it was very useful for depression. It would be good to know if the latter used it in severe depression, and what the traditional use has been.


Maude Grieve (1931) lists SJW as useful for "hysteria and nervous depression"


(I'm differentiating between 'contra-indication' and ineffectiveness' btw).



Judy, do you have a source for why you think SJW is contra-indicated in severe depression?
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Postby Althea » Sun Jan 18, 2004 12:19 am

My impression was that it is not so much contraindicated as it is just ineffective for more than moderate depression. Did your source really say St. John's would actually make it worse?
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Postby Anonymous » Sun Jan 18, 2004 1:23 am

i remember reading that it is contraindicated for bipolar disorder. I think I read that on Daniel Amen's site, which I believe is www.thebrainplace.com

Hmm....now I'm going to have to go read up again[:)]

Heather
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Postby Judy L » Sun Jan 18, 2004 1:49 am

Hi everyone,

Thanks for writing back so soon.

In answer to your question, I've read
SJW is contraindicated for severe depression in some herbals and some magazines. Books by Christopher Hobbs, Shatoiya DeLaTour, magazines like Herb Companion, Herb Quarterly to name a few. They never stated why it was contraindicated though.

In regards to taking SJW with anti-depressants, the research I've done shows it depends on what class of anti-depressants one is taking whether or not it can be taking safely.

Love and Blessings,
Judy
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Postby Anonymous » Sun Jan 18, 2004 3:04 am

The website I mentioned above is wrong, it is actually
www.brainplace.com

I can't seem to find the reference about bi-polar tho.

It is a fascinating site tho.

Heather
Anonymous
 

Postby sapphire kate » Sun Jan 18, 2004 7:48 pm

Thanks Judy.

I'd be interested in what you have found about SJW interactions and anti-depressants, if you are able to post information here. That questioon gets asked alot.

Skiesmama, I've seen a caution about SJW and bipolar too, although it wasn't clear whether it was ineffective or contra-indicated.


thanks,
kate.
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Postby willo » Sun Jan 18, 2004 8:17 pm

From what I've learned, St. J's Wort, is just not effective for depression. Lemon Balm is "the happy herb", used in depression.

blessings
Willo
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Postby Judy L » Sun Jan 18, 2004 9:29 pm

Hi all,

willo, thanks for your input. I've heard that lemon balm works well for depression too. My experience with lemon balm is that it puts me straight to sleep. I find it very sedating, even in small amounts.

Kate, It would be hard for me to reference the research I've done with anti-depressants and SJW. Most of it comes from various books and speaking with doctors.

What I have found is that it can be taken generally with mood-stablizers (a class of anti-depressants). Ironically these are generally used for bi-polar but work well for depression. One would also want to stay away from using any type of ginseng or strong stimulant if taking anti-depressants. Which can be challenging since alot of the anti-depressants are so sedating.

They are quite a few books out on herb-drug interactions that actually list the anti-depresssants out individually with the list of herbs that can be taken safely. Barnes & Noble (bookstore west coast) has the best selection of books that I have seen.

It really is such an individual thing. Different herbal allies come into our lives at different times for different reasons. What works for one may not be the right herb for the next one.

Off to eat vegetable stew...

Blessings,
Judy
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Postby sapphire kate » Mon Jan 19, 2004 1:19 am

Thanks Judy. Most of the info I have come across gives cautions about SJW with SSRIs, but doesn't say if there is an actual interaction, or if the interaction is suspected because of the serotonin action of SJW.

I haven't looked in depth yet though, it's mainly been what I have come across in my other reading. Will have a look at Barnes and Noble's booklist.
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Postby Judy L » Tue Jan 20, 2004 7:24 pm

Kate,

I've come upon the same information researching SSRIs and SJW. I 've also been left with the same questions regarding the serotonin connection. Hmm....

Judy
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Postby Toryann » Wed May 05, 2004 4:58 pm

Does anyone have any new information about herbal treatment of depression? I'm taking my son in to get an anti-depressant on Friday and would like to have other options as well.
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Postby LadyB » Thu May 06, 2004 8:28 am

Toryann, I don't think anyone has any kind of simple answer. Depression is incredibly complex stuff.

I had always heard that St J's wasn't to be taken with MAO Inhibitors. It seems it's MOST effective on things like Seasonal Affective Disorder, or what I like to call the SUNNLESS GRUMPIES from which I DO suffer. I am SO ridiculously light-sensitive. Gathering clouds will make me anxious. But I also take it by the absolute dropperful when I've over-danced muscles that I don't want to jam up. It has a lot of uses. It was also my biggest ally in recovering (completely) from the nerve damage that repeated bouts of Lyme Disease left me with.

LemonBalm (look at how it puts JudyL right to sleep![|)]) I consider the supreme decongestant....meaning it can DECONGEST noses, sinuses, muscles and moods.....for the specific, heavy, closed-in depression that comes with Lyme, it's the first thing I have folks Self-Test for. Doesn't work for everybody. Thank the GODDESS it doesn't put ME to sleep, [8)] I down it by the dropperful the MINUTE I feel anything wonky with my sinuses.

So, Toryann, since you say you're 'taking' your son in, I'm assuming he's too young to take himself, and that's a whole 'nother kettle of fish, anti-depressants for youngsters. If you decide to go the prescription drug route, you need NOT to be experimenting with herbs ON TOP of it. That would be a really bad idea. But, if this doctor doesn't convince you that his/hers is a really good idea, you might want to look into the Bach Flower Remedies, which address all kinds of depression in a very safe way.

I also think the notion of 'ineffective' vs 'contraindicated' is REALLY interesting....something that is ineffective for truly severe depression could really CAUSE damage, not necessarily chemically, but in allowing something like suicidal behavior to continue. I think most of the time, it's just sloppy use of words.

Huge subject, no easy answers.
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Postby sapphire kate » Thu May 06, 2004 10:46 am

<blockquote id="quote"><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote">I also think the notion of 'ineffective' vs 'contraindicated' is REALLY interesting....something that is ineffective for truly severe depression could really CAUSE damage, not necessarily chemically, but in allowing something like suicidal behavior to continue. I think most of the time, it's just sloppy use of words.
<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">

hmm interesting points LadyB. I would think that all herbs have the potential to be ineffective in the sense that they are potential allies in healing rather than natural drugs that work on everyone the same. I guess your caution is against using SJW as a substitute for psychiatric medications in situations where SJW is not helpful.

The interesting thing for me is that often herbs are put up as versus the drugs, and then when people say that SJW is ineffective in say severe depression there seems to be this assumption that the drugs _are_ effective (which is not necessarily true).

(I don't think this is what you were saying. It's just a point I've thought of in conversations like this before).

~~~

Toryann, I would encourage you to see you doctor and consider not accepting a prescription for anti-depressants right away. There are many other options that carry less risk and side effects. Check out the herbal options, as well as things like therapy, life managment strategies, diet etc. There is alot of information on the internet and in libraries on nonmedication ways of healing depression.

There are also alot of resources on this forum if you want to use the search function at the top.

My feeling about childhood depression is that the family needs to address the issues as whole if possible.


You might also want to research anti-depressants well if you are going to consider them, especially because a child is involved (risks are different). One very good resource that presents the case against anti-depressants including for children is "Your Drug May Be Your Problem" by Peter Breggin.

http://www.breggin.com/


The other general point I would like to make is that the word depression gets used by many people to mean many different things. It is not a tight definitive diagnosis. And because people become 'depressed' for many different reasons, there are many different ways of addressing this.

Often depression is a normal response to life situations.

The Wise Woman way encourages us to see individuals in their wholeness rather than as symptoms or a diagnosis of disease. I feel this is especially important for psyche wounds, and that we can focus on nourishing and supporting the person who walks with depression so that they find their way to where they want to be.

blessings,
kate.
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