St John's wort may be more effective than imipramine
- By: Jenny Blythe
St John's wort is better tolerated than a traditional antidepressant in cases of mild to moderate depression, according to a recent study (BMJ 2000;321:536-9).
Three hundred and twenty four outpatients in Germany took either the extract of the herb St John's wort (Hypericum perforatum) or the tricyclic antidepressant imipramine, one of the most frequently prescribed antidepressants. The two drugs had the same therapeutic value. But only 39% of the patients taking St John's wort suffered from any side effects, compared with 69% of those taking imipramine.
Side effects of antidepressants include dry mouth, sweating, nausea, weakness, and headache. In the study, 3% of patients stopped treatment with St John's wort because of its negative effects compared with 16% of those taking imipramine.
“The results of this study support the conclusion that the two treatments are therapeutically equivalent,” says Helmut Wolke, the author of the study. “Hypericum should be considered for