john’s wort ( Hypericum perforatum L) is well know herb used for the treatment of many medical disorders. It is also known as amber touch and heal, balm of warrior’s wound, bassant , goatweed harteu just to name a few
However, the only medical disorder where there is some clinical evidence where this herb works is depression. Many studies have look at St john’s wort and found it to be useful in the short term relief of depression. While studies have shown it to be as good as the traditional anti depressant drugs, it is not known if the herb is as good as the novel anti-serotonin depressants like Zoloft and sertaline. One should understand that St johns wort is not a substitute for conventional medical therapy and the herb is only a complimentary aid for depression.
Because St john’s wort has been known to interact with numerous prescription drugs and health supplements, all people who use this herb should be cautious and disuss the therapy with their physician.
For people who are into herbs, st john’s wort is best used to treat mild depression. The herb has been proven to be effective and safe but its long term benefits on depression have not yet been demonstrated.
The vendors of st john’s wort claim that it may be useful for the treatment of anxiety, panic disorder or neuopathic pain.. However, in all these disorders solid clinical evidence is lacking and its effectiveness has only been based on isolated case reports.
One disorder where there is good evidence for posiive benefits of st john’s wort is atopic dermatitis. Application of a cream made from extracts of this herb have shown it to reduce skin irritation, dryness and itching.
However, other disorders where there is little or no evidence for st john’s wort include attention deficit disorder, depression in children, nerve pain, obsessive compulsive disorder, menopause, premenstrual syndrome, phobias and seasonal mood disorders. When it comes to HIV, the herb has been found to interact with traditional HIV medications and profoundly affects effectiveness of these drugs.
The exact dose of st john’s warts is not known because of the variability in quality. Some vendors indicate that 900-1800 mg of St john’s wort may be required to treat depression. The 1.5 % cream is useful for atopic dermatitis. Unlike pharmaceutical drugs the incidence of allergies and skin rash is quite low.
St john’s wort is well tolerated for 3 months and the most common side effects include constipation, fatigue, anxiety, decreased libido, headache and dry mouth. There are rare reports that st john’s wort may case suicidal ideation and homidical thoughts.
Pregnant women and those who are breast feeding should not take St john’s wort as the herb has not been adequately studied in this population.
For the moment St john’s wort is best taken for mild to moderat depression. For the other medical disorders more evidence needs to be forth coming before it can be recommended.
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