My regular readers know I think all Prozac should be destroyed. The article below states that St. John’s Wort is just as effective as Prozac, I would like to change it to a safer treatment for depression, as Prozac is far from safe.
“It has long been a happy alternative for those reluctant to pop pills for depression.
But the herbal extract St John’s Wort now has more than just cheerful converts to testify to its mood-lifting powers.
In what is billed as the most thorough study of the plant, scientists have found it is just as effective as Prozac at treating depression.
It also had fewer side effects than many standard drugs used to help those battling despair.
Researchers compared the effects of the plant hypericum perforatum – popularly known as St John’s Wort – with placebos or a wide range of old and new anti-depressants, including those from the new generation of SSRI drugs, such as Prozac and Seroxat.
The findings could prompt more GPs to prescribe St John’s Wort.
In Germany, it is commonly given to children and teenagers.
Experts do not know exactly how the plant lifts depression, although most believe it probably works by keeping the chemical serotonin, which is linked to positive moods, in the brain for longer.
The study’s lead author, Dr Klaus Linde, from the Centre for Complementary Medicine in Munich, pooled data from 29 studies involving 5,489 patients with mild to moderately severe depression.
‘Overall, the St John’s Wort extracts tested in the trials were superior to placebo, similarly effective as standard anti-depressants, and had fewer side effects than standard anti-depressants,’ he said.
But he pointed out that St John’s Wort products available in health food shops and chemists differed greatly and some may be more effective than others.
‘Using a St John’s Wort extract might be justified but products on the market vary considerably, so these results only apply to the preparations tested,’ he explained.
The findings were published by the Cochrane Library, which specialises in systematic reviews of research studies.
A separate study has found St John’s Wort, available in countless health shops, is the only alternative medicine proven to have an effect.
Others, including ginseng, liquid tonic, cat’s claw, gingko biloba and royal jelly, had no firm base in evidence and could be dangerous when taken with other drugs, according to the study by St James’ University Hospital in Leeds.
Some other studies however have indicated that St John’s Wort may interfere with the effectiveness of the contraceptive pill.
Other reported effects have included dizziness, tiredness and hair loss.
The extract has become a popular alternative to anti-depressants such as Prozac and Seroxat in recent years following fears over the safety of SSRI (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor) drugs.
Doctors have been told not to prescribe most SSRIs to under-18s because of an increased risk of suicide.
Experts have also said they could not rule out a suicide risk to older users.
Another study found that pregnant women who take SSRI drugs were at risk of having babies with birth defects such as cleft palates and heart problems.
Four out of five GPs have admitted overprescribing Prozac and similar drugs.
They blamed a lack of suitable alternatives, including behavioural therapy and social care as well as medicines.”
Last updated at 2:02 PM on 08th October 2008
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