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Back To Vidyya St. John's Wort As Effective As Imipramine For Treatment Of Depression

Study Found In Friday's Issue Of The British Medical Journal

St. John's wort, a popular herbal dietary supplement, should be considered the first line of defense in patients with mild to moderate depression, according to a study published Friday in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

"This is great news and an important addition to the growing body of literature on the effectiveness and safety of St. John's wort," said David Seckman, executive director/CEO of the National Nutritional Foods Association, the nation's largest trade group representing dietary supplement manufacturers and retailers. "The publication of such a large and well-controlled study will go a long way toward educating practitioners of conventional medicine about products used in complementary and alternative care."

The study, reportedly the biggest ever of its kind, was conducted in Germany and involved more than 300 patients with mild to moderate depression.

Participants were randomly treated with either St. John's wort extract or the antidepressant imipramine.

The results show that the two treatments were "therapeutically equivalent" with regard to overall effect on depression. What is also significant, however, is that patients had a higher tolerance for St. John's wort. Side effects such as dry mouth, sweating and dizziness, were reported in only 39 percent of patients taking St. John's wort compared to 63 percent taking imipramine. This resulted in fewer patients discontinuing treatment -- only 3 percent of those taking St. John's wort as compared to 16 percent of patients on imipramine.

According to the BMJ, the results of findings of this study and others recently published, "provide compelling evidence that St. John's wort extract is as effective as standard antidepressants. In view of its superior safety record, St. John's wort should be considered for first line treatment in mild to moderate depression, especially in general practice where the milder forms of depression are most commonly seen."

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Editor: Susan K. Boyer, RN
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