Monday, August 11, 2008

Herbal Remedies and Depression-St. John's Wort Revisited

I recently had a conversation with an acquaintance about using herbal remedies, particularly the herb, St. John's Wort.

My acquaintance said that he had tried St. John's Wort to treat a mild depression, and found that it did not help. I asked him how long he had tried using the herb, and at what dosage.

His reply was that he did not know the dosage, "It was whatever was in the box." And that he had tried it for almost two weeks.

His comments made me feel that I needed to emphasize here that herbs take time to work. They are generally not as powerful as pharmaceutical drugs, though I believe that they are usually more effective. (Meaning that if you are taking the correct herbal remedy, it will not only treat the symptoms, but also the cause. Too often, pharmaceutical remedies treat only the most obvious symptom, and cause more problems with side effects. And, then you need another drug to deal with the problems caused by the first drug.)

The deeper the condition you are trying to treat with herbal remedies, or the longer it has existed, the longer the herb will take to help your body change. (And, any healing, even with powerful drugs, is done by the body's own healing mechanisms, not by the external substance. The best it can do is encourage the body to heal, or aid the body in fighting an infection.)

I think every person who uses herbal remedies, and every herbal remedy is unique, so it is difficult to give an absolute rule for how long to take a remedy. (If you use a standardized remedy, you reduce the uniqueness of the herb, I wrote a couple posts about standardization on February 2, 2006, and February 3, 2006, if you care to go back and read them.

With that said, I told my acquaintance that he should have been taking 300mg of a standardized preparation 2-3 times daily, and given the herb at least one or two months to begin working.

I have commented that I believe that herbal remedies are often more effective than pharmaceutical drugs. That is my opinion, and should not be taken as medical advice, do not change any prescriptions you are taking without your doctors approval, and do not add herbal remedies to any prescriptions without discussing it with your doctor.

The material presented in this blog is for informational use only and should in no way be used as a substitute for needed medical treatment. I am not a doctor, I do not diagnose or treat disease. If you need medical care, please consult the appropriate medical professional. And please discuss with your doctor if you are taking or planning to take any herbal preparations.

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