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The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) has developed this fact sheet on the use of St. John's wort for depression. It is part of a series intended to help consumers make informed decisions about whether to use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) for a disease or medical condition. NCCAM defines CAM as approaches to health care that are not currently part of conventional medicine as practiced in the United States.
St. John's wort is an herb that has been used for centuries for medicinal purposes, including to treat depression.
The composition of St. John's wort and how it might work are not well understood.
There is some scientific evidence that St. John's wort is useful for treating mild to moderate depression. However, recent studies suggest that St. John's wort is of no benefit in treating major depression of moderate severity. More research is required to help us know whether St. John's wort has value in treating other forms of depression.
St. John's wort interacts with certain drugs, and these interactions can be dangerous.
It is important to inform all of your health care providers about any therapy that you are currently using or considering, including any dietary supplements. This is to help ensure a safe and coordinated course of care.
Conventional medicine is medicine as practiced by holders of M.D. (medical doctor) or D.O. (doctor of osteopathy) degrees and by their allied health professionals, such as physical therapists, psychologists, and registered nurses. To find out more, see the NCCAM fact sheet.