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October 2021

Med J Aust. 1998 Dec 7-21; 169(11-12): 583-6.

Hypericum perforatum (St John's wort) in depression: pest or blessing?

Rey JM, Walter G.

Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Sydney. [email protected]

St John's wort (SJW) was introduced into Australia during the 1880s for medicinal purposes, but was subsequently declared a noxious weed. There is now a resurgence of interest in the therapeutic properties of this herb. In particular, use of SJW as an antidepressant has increased in recent months owing to reports of its effectiveness and safety. Nevertheless, the controlled trials available have limitations. Increasing use of SJW in the community poses a variety of questions. For example, should medical practitioners become more knowledgeable about the effects and interactions of alternative remedies? What are the ethical and medical implications of "antidepressant" prescribing by non-medical persons? Who is to fund further research and treatment studies? How can quality of SJW preparations be guaranteed?

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