St Johns Wort Helps Lift
Spirits of Arthritis Sufferers
St Johns wort is a natural alternative treatment for mild depression, anxiety or sleep disorders commonly linked to people with arthritis. It has long been used in Europe for treating mood disorders and has become very popular in the United States.
Its benefits have been demonstrated in clinical studies mainly focused on the efficacy of the herb for clinical depression. It has been found to be effective in treatment of mild to moderate depression. Several studies have found St. John’s wort side effects fewer than many conventional anti-depressant drugs.
To be honest, my husband and I haven’t used the St. John’s wort made by the dietary supplement company I’ve featured on this site. We have no personal testimony. We know it’s science-based and is a blend of St Johns wort extract, inositol and two other plant extracts. It has helped arthritis sufferers and others to attain a positive mental outlook after four to six weeks of use.
What is St Johns wort?
St. John's wort (hypericum perforatum) is a perennial herb standing one to two feet high, bearing many bright yellow flowers. It’s a shrubby plant, native to many parts of the world including Europe and the United States It grows as a weed in many places and is sometimes called klamath weed, tipton’s weed or goatweed. Approximately 370 species of the genus hypericum exist worldwide.
The use of hypericum for medicinal purposes dates back to ancient Greece. It was also used by Native Americans internally as an agent to induce abortion and externally as an anti-inflammatory, astringent and antiseptic. It’s also used as an herbal tea. The flowers and stems of St. John’s wort have also been used to produce red and yellow dyes.
St Johns wort for depression
In Germany, where doctors often recommend herbs, St. John’s wort is prescribed more frequently than Prozac for mild to moderate depression.
Its use has also been appropriate and successful for minimizing mood swings associated with menopause.
Clinical studies prove efficacy when source is trusted
An early meta-study combining the results of 23 smaller earlier studies, is perhaps the most often cited by manufacturers and other supporters of St. John’s wort.
Additional studies (for a total of 27) updated to form a review in the Cochrane Library found that hypericum has a clinically significant effect in patients with minor to moderate depression, but not those suffering from a chronic clinical form of depression.
It was concluded that St. John's wort was more efficacious than placebo; and as efficacious as tricyclic antidepressant drugs, with fewer adverse drug reactions. This meta-analysis also showed the response rate for St. John’s wort was significantly greater than for placebo and similar to the response rate of antidepressants.
Because St. John’s wort is produced as a dietary supplement. in an industry not as closely regulated as pharmaceutical drugs, a major review of the efficacy of St. John’s wort cautioned that the pharmaceutical quality of various preparations on the market may vary considerably.
St Johns Wort Side Effects and Cautions
During double-blind, placebo controlled clinical testing even the placebo has reported side effects. St Johns wort side effects are similar to placebo.
As a dietary supplement, St. John’s wort is generally well tolerated.
The reported St. John’s wort side effects follow:
- gastrointestinal symptoms
- tiredness and sedation
- sensitivity to sunlight (rarely reported)
- Research shows that St. John's wort interacts with some drugs. Drugs that can be affected include:
- Birth control pills
- Cyclosporine, which prevents the body from rejecting transplanted organs
- Digoxin, which strengthens heart muscle contractions
- Indinavir and possibly other drugs used to control HIV infection
- Irinotecan and possibly other drugs used to treat cancer
- Warfarin and related anticoagulants
- When combined with certain antidepressants, St. John's wort may increase side effects such as nausea, anxiety, headache, and confusion.
- St. John's wort is not a proven therapy for depression. If depression is not adequately treated, it can become severe. Anyone who may have depression should see a health care provider. There are effective proven therapies available.
- Tell your doctor, pharmacist or health care providers about any complementary and alternative practices you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.
Some St Johns wort manufacturers have sub-potent products
Selecting a dietary supplement company you can completely trust for quality assurance is not as easy as it sounds.
A Good Housekeeping Institute analysis of six widely available St. John's wort supplement capsules and four liquid extracts revealed a lack of consistency of the suspected active ingredients, hypericin and pseudohypericin. The study found:
- A 17-fold difference between the capsules containing the smallest amount of hypericin and those containing the largest amount, based on manufacturer's maximum recommended dosage.
- A 13-fold difference in pseudohypericin in the capsules.
- A 7-to-8-fold differential from the highest to the lowest levels of liquid extracts.
A similar investigation by the Los Angeles Times found that 7 of 10 products contained between 75% and 135% of the labeled hypericin level, and three contained no more than about half the labeled potency.
New dietary supplement regulations cGMP’s don’t regulate efficacy
Prior to the current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) final rule promulgated by the FDA in July, 2007, the dietary supplement industry had been basically unregulated since 1994. The new regulations bring more strict control on quality and safety. But some experts say it has nothing to do with the efficacy of the products.
The new FDA regulations require manufacturers to test the purity and composition of their products. These standards were phased in over three years (large companies by June, 2008, small companies by June, 2009 and very small companies by June 2010),
The cGMP require that manufacturers test ingredients, but doesn’t mandate how they should test. Testing is left up to each manufacturer; the FDA has not dictated specific methods.
In the past, within this industry, fewer companies tested raw materials than those that did. Those that did test may have used substandard methodology. One consumer laboratory reported it had found instances of lead contamination and wrong ingredients that dietary supplement manufacturers’ own testing methods had not identified.
Some industry critics doubt that the new rules will help the efficacy factor. No proof is required to prove whether supplements actually work in the human body. The new rules don't require double blind, placebo-controlled clinical studies like what pharmaceutical manufacturers must do.
Will supplements be consistent batch to batch under the new cGMP’s? That’s a question to be answered in the future. In theory, they should. But the scruples of some manufacturers of dietary supplements have been questioned for some time. It’s fair to point out that most of the industry is still operating “unregulated” since the new rules will not affect all manufacturers until mid-2010.
How can you trust the efficacy of a St Johns wort dietary supplement?
To help you choose a company you can trust, I’ve devised 30 Questions concerning standards of excellence that you should expect “yes” answers to.
I used these same questions to help me find a dietary supplement company founded in 1956. They are a leader in the industry and their science is second to none. My husband and I use three pain products developed by their science staff in 2003.
As an example of their science leadership, this company has invested more than $250 million in clinical testing, research and development and has over 90 published studies in peer-reviewed scientific journals—more than any other nutritional company!
They produce many high quality supplements, including a safe, natural product for mood improvement.
Not all supplements are safe
It’s false to believe that natural is automatically safe. Plants can be harmful and some are poisonous.
You should take nothing for granted when it comes to your health. You can take control of your health by making sure you’re getting the intended benefit from your purchase of a dietary supplement.
More and more people today are seeking natural treatments. Dependency on prescription drugs comes with the possibility of serious side effects. Synthetic drugs mask symptoms but are not assimilated by the body as nutrients.
The pain, discomfort and lack of mobility from arthritis present a daily hurdle mentally. It can beat-down a once-positive attitude into a negative life perspective.
Featured St Johns wort
There is a dietary supplement you can trust to help lift your spirits and sense of well-being. You can be sure of its efficacy. It’s a complex of St Johns wort, inositol and an enhanced proprietary blend of Eleutherococcus senticosus root (formerly known as Siberian Ginseng), and Green Oats herb.
Inositol supports the activity of the supplement by playing an active role in the proper transmission of nerve signals.*
In this recommended product, St. John's wort extract is 900 mg and inositol is 1,000 mg based on four capsules daily serving size. The proprietary blend is 200 mg. Many people find the appropriate serving size to be half, and even a quarter, of this amount. This is why the directions offer a range of 1-4 capsules. St. John's Wort extract (Hypericum perforatum) (herb) has been standardized to contain 0.3% total hypericin.
To experience the benefits of this natural supplement for depression, anxiety, or sleep disorders caused by arthritis symptoms, and for an improved outlook, I recommend this St. John’s wort supplement.
St Johns Wort Disclaimer: Health statements on this St Johns Wort page have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
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