St. John’s Wort for Depression

You may have heard about an herbal medicine called St. John’s wort. St. John’s wort is an herb. Its flowers and leaves are used to make medicine. It is one of the top-selling botanical products in the United States. But St. John’s wort is not a proven therapy for depression. The FDA has not approved its use as an over-the-counter or prescription medicine for depression, and there are serious concerns about its safety and effectiveness.

Taking St. John’s wort can weaken many prescription medicines, such as:

  • Antidepressants
  • Birth control pills
  • Cyclosporine, which prevents the body from rejecting transplanted organs
  • Digoxin, a heart medication
  • Some HIV drugs
  • Some cancer medications
  • Medications used to thin the blood

Quick Tip: If You Are Considering St. John’s Wort for Depression

  • Do not use St. John’s wort to replace conventional care or to postpone seeing a health care provider. If not adequately treated, depression can become severe.
  • Keep in mind that dietary supplements can cause medical problems if not used correctly or if used in large amounts, and some may interact with medications you take. Your health care provider can advise you.
  • Many dietary supplements have not been tested in pregnant women, nursing mothers, or children. Little safety information on St. John’s wort for pregnant women or children is available, so it is especially important to talk with health experts if you are pregnant or nursing or are considering giving a dietary supplement to a child.
  • Tell all your health care providers about any complementary health approaches you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health.

For more information, please visit the website for the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health at https://nccih.nih.gov/ .

Consult with your doctor before taking any herbal supplement.


Reference: National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) 

Last updated May 2017

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This information is for general educational uses only. It may not apply to you and your personal medical needs. This information should not be used in place of a visit, call, consultation with or the advice of your physician or health care professional.

Communicate promptly with your physician or other health care professional with any health-related questions or concerns.

Be sure to follow specific instructions given to you by your physician or health care professional.

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