The Popular Herbal Mood Booster: St.John’s Wort

This little plant with the bright yellow flowers is most popular herbal medicine today. It is named after St. John the Baptist because its yellow flowers bloom around last week of June. This plant has attained the popularity as herbal mood-booster on shelves today quite rapidly. In some of the countries like Germany, it is being prescribed more often as compared to the known popular drug Prozac, it makes this herb most popular antidepressant used in those countries.

Studies have shown that the plant (botanical name hypericum perforatum) is very effective in treating mood disorders and that too with lesser adverse effects like lowered libido that accompany with the use of standard antidepressants like Prozac. Researchers are investigating exactly how St. John’s Wort works. Now the focus of interest has been shifted to hypericin, a plant compound that scientists believe may regulate brain chemicals, such as serotonin and monoamine oxidase that are critical to change of mood. It was believed that the herb represses an important enzyme called monoamine oxidase, and increases the levels of serotonin in the brain. This new information indicates the herb is a weak MAO inhibitor at best, and that instead it may work more like Prozac.

Double-blind trials on patients with mild or moderate depression found that hypericin (the main ingredient from the St. John’s Wort) yields excellent results. Most of the patients began reporting effects within the first two weeks of use, and maximum benefits reported peaking up after six to eight weeks of use. All the studies used an extract standardized to contain .3% hypericin. The recommended dose is 300 mg three times daily of extract standardized to 0.3 percent of hypericin. This herb has become so popular that it can be found on the shelves of most of the drug stores and through the online stores too.

This herb can be used with antidepressant drugs, but combined use requires the supervision of a physician who has prescribed the antidepressant. Patients on several antidepressants sometimes suffer confusion, fever, shivering, sweating, diarrhea, and muscle spasms known commonly as the serotonin syndrome. The extract is quite safe; no significant side effects have been reported yet. Occasionally, according to studies, users experienced gastrointestinal irritation, allergic reactions, or fatigue. The herb’s general safety record is excellent. Pregnant and lactating women are advised to avoid St. John’s Wort.

Beside the St. John’s Wort there are many more herbal mood boosters are available in the nature, they are ginkgo, kava, tyrosine and SAM-e. but they are not so popular as compared to the St. John’s Wort, however ginkgo is being used in the east Asian countries from quite some time successfully and command a fair amount of popularity there.  

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