Newest Review: ... Europe as well as other places in the world, and it contains something called Hypericum which is the active element used in making herbal t... more
It is really much safer to take Prozac.
St. John's Wort
Member Name: Kitten as a Cat
St. John's Wort
Date: 24/10/01, updated on 14/02/05 (10310 review reads)
Advantages: eases mild depression, avaliable without a prescription in chemists and health food stores
Disadvantages: Dangerous, can cause liver damage, retinal ulceration etc. , can prevent medications from working, e.g. the contraceptive pill
Though St. Johns Wort has been deemed a `wonder-herbī and dubbed “Natures Prozac”, it is in fact dangerous. You are in fact far safer if you in fact take Prozac itself. St. Johns Wort works in a similar manner to the old generation monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAO inhibitors) as opposed to the newer generation antidepressants, which prevent the reuptake of serotonin in the neuronal synapse, thus causing the same effect as if more serotonin were present (Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs). The newer ones, for example Seroxat and Prozac, have been found to have far fewer side effects, and be more effective in the treatment of depression, i.e. restabilise serotonin levels to normal levels within the body. Usually clinical depression is triggered by something which affects our emotions, causing a chemical imbalance in the brain, this usually being depletion of the neurotransmitter serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine). This needs to be treated in a way to correct this chemical imbalance, thus making the patient feel better.
There is a stigma to taking drugs for depression, especially Prozac, but it is far more sensible to take a drug which has been clinically tested, and where a doctor can monitor your progress if you are indeed suffering from true clinical depression.
In general, most people donīt like taking drugs, and would prefer a “natural” solution for their ailment. Although I think herbal medicine is an incredibly important, underestimated and effective resource, the common mistake is that most people take
“natural” to mean “safer”, which is often not the case. Very few herbal treatments have been clinically tested to prove either their efficacy or toxicity (side effects – dangerous or otherwise). St. Johns Wort is a plant which contains the active substance hypericin. This is in fact a drug, as it acts in the body to cause a chemical change. Other “natural drugs” which are extracted from plants include aspirin, from willow bark, and digitoxin (used in some heart conditions) from foxglove. Herbal extracts contain many chemicals, some of which are active (i.e. the component which works in the observed therapeutic manner) and some are just present in the extraction along with the active component. These impurities can themselves be the cause of some side effects in herbal medicine, or the active component itself can cause other unwanted effects along with the desired effect (side effects), which is the case with hypericin. Yes, it does work against depression, yet the side effects really are quite serious.
St Johns Wort is dangerous. It has been well documented for years that the acute photosensitivity (hypersensitivity to light) caused by hypericin intake can lead to retinal ulceration, blindness, and liver damage to sheep that consume it, as it does in humans too. You should indeed wear good sunglasses outside at all times if you take it, even in winter and you should avoid all direct light. Recent findings also show that it can stop countless other drugs you may be taking from working, as it causes the enzymes in the liver to prevent their adequate absorption. Examples being the contraceptive pill and the anti-rejection drug cyclosporin used after organ transplants. Most people take St. Johns Wort unaware of the side effects it can cause. Prozac does none of this, and you will have the added safety of a doctor monitoring your condition.
A good reason to take medical drugs for such illnesses, as opposed to h
erbal ones, is that they have been purified and formulated in a way to have optimal therapeutic action and as few side effects as possible, preventing the patient from being harmed in any serious way by the chemical they are taking. Rigorous clinical trials and numerous studies to observe the toxicology of the drug assure this. It also ensures you receive the correct amount of the drug. It doesnīt make these drugs 100% safe, but it makes them a lot safer than their herbal counterparts. Also, a doctor will correctly diagnose your illness, and prescribe the correct treatment for it. As I mentioned earlier, many people believe they are suffering from true depression, when they are in fact just suffering from feeling a bit down. So why treat what they are suffering with a drug that can be used for true clinical depression? It is the equivalent of applying a plastercast to a pinprick.
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