St. John's wort is also known was hypericum perforatum. It is a perennial shrub with orange and yellow flowers. Extracts of this plant are often used to treat depression. St. John's wort is sold as a dietary supplement and is available at health-food stores and supermarkets. According to the National Institutes of Health, St. John's wort has been used to treat mental-health problems for centuries. Whether St. John's wort is truly an effective treatment for depression has yet to be irrevocably proven. However, many individuals take this supplement in the hopes that it will alleviated depression.

Conflicting Scientific Evidence

According to the Mayo Clinic, multiple studies have indicated that St. John’s wort is just as effective as prescription tricyclic anti-depressant drugs such Tofranil and Elavil in treating either mild or moderate depression. In addition, some studies have suggested that St. John’s wort may also be as effective as serotonin aids Prozac and Zoloft. Studies have not gathered evidence indicating whether St. John’s wort is effective in the treatment of anxiety disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder or seasonal affective disorder. The NIH asserts that, while some studies have shown St. John’s wort to be as effective as prescription medications, two studies have concluded that St. John’s wort was not any better at treating depression than a placebo.


St. John’s wort is significantly cheaper than prescription anti-depressants. However, medical insurances will not cover the expense at all. At, a 2 ½-month supply of St. John’s wort is $19.99. Prescription anti-depressants medications may cost $100 or more for a month’s supply, and, even with medical insurance, they will still be more than the cost of St. John‘s wort.


The recommended adult dose of hyperacin is 0.17-2.7 milligrams, and the recommended dose of St. John’s wort extract is 900-1800 milligrams. However, doses may vary depending on what brand of St John’s wort is purchased. The strength of herbal supplements may vary by manufacturer, which make proper dosing difficult. Dosages of prescription medications are always exact.

Side Effects

According to the Mayo Clinic, recent studies have indicated that only 1 to 3 percent of those individuals taking St. John’s wort experience any side effects, and those that do have side effects generally have fewer than would be present with a prescription medication. The most common side effects noted for St. John’s wort are upset stomach, fatigue, headache, dizziness, sunlight sensitivity and restlessness. Some individuals may experience an allergic reaction to St. John’s wort in the form of a skin rash, and some may have sexual side effects. The occurrence of side effects with prescription medications is greater than with St. John’s wort. Prescription anti-depressants may cause side effects like sleep problems, dry mouth, memory loss, concentration problems, weight gain, disorientation and sexual problems.

Drug Interactions

St. John’s wort may interact negatively with other supplements, herbs or prescription drugs. Thus, anyone using St. John’s wort should check with a physician or pharmacist before beginning treatment with St. John’s wort. St. John's wort causes problems with how fast or slow other drugs are processed by the body. Possible negative interactions may include a combination of St. John’s wort with medications such as anti-depressants, birth-control medications, Warafin, Irinotecan, Indinavir, Digoxin and Clyclosporine.