I prefer natural remedies. I've been told St. John's Wort can replace my antipsychotic and antidepressant medications. What's your opinion?
(Column: Ask the Pharmacist)
St. John's Wort
Steve Kaufman, RPH
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St. John's Wort has been used medicinally for nearly 2,000 years. People in ancient Greece believed the herb to have magical power. A perennial plant with small bright yellow flowers, it grows abundantly in the U.S. and Europe. The herb has been used to treat a variety of ailments including wounds, muscle pain, burns and most commonly today, depression.

Clinical studies with St. John's Wort have shown it to be as effective as the standard anti-depressant drugs but with fewer side effects. Although the exact mechanism of action is not fully understood, most scientists believe it exerts its anti-depressant effect by inhibiting serotonin re-uptake. The use of St. John's Wort has increased dramatically in both Europe and the U.S. More than 60 million daily doses of the herb are prescribed by German physicians -- eight times more often than standard drugs
(Zoloft, Prozac, Paxil). The German commission has approved St. John's Wort for mood disorders and nervous unrest, as well as topical use of oil-based preparations for first degree burns.

The active ingredient in St. John's Wort is Hypercin. The recommended daily dose is 2.7mg of Hypercin taken in three divided doses (0.9mg three times daily).

It is important to read the label before buying St. John's Wort. Most bottles contain 300mg tablets. The standardized extract of Hypercin will be specified on the label. If the label says the standardized extract of Hypercin is 0.3%, then each tablet contains 0.9mg of Hypercin. In order to find the strength of Hypercin in the tablet, you multiply the mg of St. John's Wort times the standardized extract. (o.3% equals 0.003) 0.003 X 300 = 0.9mg. In this case you would take one tablet three times a day. If the label does not tell you the standardized extract, do not buy it. If you are having trouble figuring out how to convert the standardized extract into mg's, ask the pharmacist for help.

As always before using any herbal remedy, check with your doctor first. For more information about St. John's Wort, ask your pharmacist or Herb Research Foundation at 800-748-2167.

More information from Families-First.com: St. John's Wort
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