St. John’s Wort: Better Than Other Antidepressants

A specially prepared extract of the herb St. John’s wort might be at least as effective in treating depression as the powerful antidepressant drug paroxetine (Paxil generic, GlaxoSmithKline) and has fewer side effects, a study has indicated.

St. John’s wort has long been known as an effective herbal treatment for mild depression.

Researchers found that 50% of 301 people with depression who took the extract for six weeks reported an improvement in their symptoms; only one third of the paroxetine patients reported improvement. Neither group knew which drug they were taking, but the patients taking drug paroxetine also reported more adverse effects.

In Germany, St. John’s wort is a prescription drug that outsells tablet fluoxetine (Prozac medication, Eli Lilly) by four to one. One drawback is that the extract interacts with several prescription medications to reduce their effectiveness.