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St. John's Wort Beats Paxil at Fighting Depression

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DNC Daily News Central
HEALTH NEWS
By Ron Gara
11 February, 2005  03:20 GMT

St. John's Wort, an herb found among the vitamins and supplements at just about any drugstore or supermarket, often has been credited in popular literature as being effective in warding off depression. But, as in the case of many herbs and supplements, few scientific studies have been available to support that claim.

Now, researchers have concluded that a specially manufactured extract from St. John's Wort is at least as effective in treating depression as a commonly prescribed anti-depressant.

Their work has been published by bmj.com and has been made available to the public as of February 10.

At the end of the trial, half (61 out of 122) of those who took St. John's Wort found their symptoms in decline, while just a third (43 out of 122) of those taking Paroxetine (Paxil) went into remission.

St. John's Wort Helped Half of Study Participants

The herb, St. John's Wort, also known by the clinical name "hypericum extract WS 5570," and the drug, Paroxetine (Paxil), which belongs to the Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) class of anti-depressants, were used in a trial to treat patients with moderate or severe depression.

The researchers asked 301 participants of both sexes from German mental health centers to take part in the trial. The two drugs were taken by patients aged 18 to 70 years over a six week period during 2000-2003.

At the end of the trial, half (61 out of 122) of those who took St. John's Wort found their symptoms in decline, while just a third (43 out of 122) of those taking Paroxetine (Paxil) went into remission.

Fewer Reported Side-Effects

Participants taking Paroxetine also suffered more side-effects: 269 adverse effects were reported over the treatment period. In contrast, those taking St. John's Wort reported 172 adverse effects -- the most common, in both cases, being stomach disorders.

The authors support the use of St. John's Wort as an alternative to treat depression and welcome more research in this area.

Click here to view full paper.



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