St. John's Wort, Depression and PPS
From a Post to the Post-Polio-Med Email List With Permission From
Henry Holland, M.D.

Wed, 14 Apr 1999 16:10:12 EDT
From: Henry Holland Henry4FDR@AOL.COM

For those who may be inclined to medicate themselves with St. John's Wort, I would recommend that you try Alterra (hypericum perforatum). To my knowledge, none of the available preparations of St. John's Wort have been investigated by the FDA for purity, quality, effectiveness, etc. SJW reportedly is effective for mild to moderate depression. My concern would be that most of us are not the best judge as to what may be mild or moderate depression within ourselves. Many times in practice, I found folks who had waited until their depression had become major before they did anything about it, particularly males. This is one of the reasons that the suicide rate among males is higher than females.

Alterra is manufactured by the Upsher - Smith Laboratories of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Each Alterra tablet comes in a 450 mg time release tablet. There is 1.35 mg of total hypericin in each tablet. The recommended dose for treatment of mild to moderate depression is allegedly 900 mg per day or 450 mg twice a day. One should not be taking SJW with other antidepressants unless a physician has been consulted. In the literature provided by Upsher - Smith, the statement is made: STW effectiveness has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. All the manufacturer claims is that SJW is a "natural psychotropic, enhances general mental well-being, modulates mood, and supplements diet."

Yes, as a doctor, I have advised two patients to try SJW. In both cases, it was ineffective, but these two individuals were moderately depressed and prescribed SSRI's were effective. I have not felt the need to try SJW on myself as I have found improved mental well-being from adequate rest, pacing, and using my mind. If one takes it and one feels hyper, anxious, or more tired, there is the likelihood of a serotonin syndrome and one should stop it.

All of the above is only my opinion. I have no stock or receive any advantages from Upsher - Smith. I just have more confidence in Alterra than the many SJW products available in the market place.

Henry Holland
Richmond, VA
Dr. Holland is the 1999 President of the:
The Central Virginia Post-Polio Support Group

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