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04 January 2006 — In Praise of St. John's Wort (6)

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I don't care if the benefits from St. John's Wort are the result of a placebo effect, and I don't care whether there's genuine physiological response to the stuff. It works for me, and that's all that matters.

St. John's is purportedly a mild all-natural anti-depressant. Its proponents are fond of declaring that it is the most widely used anti-depressant in Germany. From early-May to mid-August I took 300mg of St. John's Wort three times a day. From early-May to mid-August I felt pretty good, was able to shake the depression that had begun to latch onto me.

Then, for whatever reason, I stopped taking the stuff. Gradually — so gradually as to be imperceptible to me — I sunk back into depression until by the end of November I was mired sorrow and self-pity. I was paralyzed by self-analysis. Just before Christmas I began taking the St. John's Wort again. "What the hell?" I thought. "It can't hurt."

Boy, howdy!

I noticed positive effects within days. (The true benefits of St. John's Wort take a few weeks to manifest themselves; it takes time for the stuff to accumulate in your system.) The past couple days have been especially fine. I've felt at ease in group situations, I've felt good about myself and about the world in general. I'm eager to refocus on things like my diet, my finances, and my writing.

So, please: if you know (or suspect) that St. John's Wort is bunk, please don't tell me about it. Let me enjoy the placebo effect.

(Also: apparently it was the St. John's Wort and not the melatonin that had gave me such fantastic lucid dreams last spring and summer. The dreams faded when I stopped with the St. John's Wort, and now they've returned in the past couple weeks. Crazy dreams, wild stuff. Exhausting. I love it.)


As I mentioned above, I'm ready to write again. Story ideas have begun to occur to me while I'm driving, so that I have to pull over and jot them down on the backs of business cards. I'm researching the writing classes offered by the various colleges in the Portland area. I'm reading about writing. And, perhaps most importantly, I've joined Andrew, Josh, and Paul H. to establish the Eastmoreland Writers' Guild (or Woodstock Writers' Guild, if you prefer). Our hope is that monthly meetings will goad us into productivity.


Comments
On 05 January 2006 (10:03 AM), pril said:

i'm curious how it does in places like Iceland and Finland, which have, from what i understand, one of the highest rates of depression on the planet.


On 05 January 2006 (03:55 PM), Cat said:

I'm always reluctant to recommend the stuff, as it doesn't work for everybody--but what antidepressant does?

I don't have the links here, but studies that showed no effect were using about 60mg! That is a common tactic with herbal studies. Later studies with a proper dosage of 600-900mg have shown good results.


On 07 February 2006 (12:04 PM), from Arizona said:

I'm not a believer in herbal remedies. However, the SJW has always worked for me, usually within about three days. Even before I believed in the SJW it was working for me.

I still don't hold much faith in herbal medicines. I do have a belief in SJW though.


On 20 April 2006 (07:07 PM), Andrew said:

St John's Wort seems to work for me too.

I had near paralyzing internal fears, producing anxiety, irritabilility and general negativity towards people around me.

Along with doing some work on my personality .. the St John's Wort has calmed me considerably .. I now virtually no longer disappear back into the old negative/disabling mental routines.

A positive thing for me as I work in the electronic media .. and am required to be "in the moment" .. not mired in depressive OCD type mental cycles.

The medication has really improved my sleep .. seems to shut down all that annoying brain chatter when I'm trying to sleep.

And the dreams .. they're mind blowing .. but not in a bad way ... cinematic, rich and imbued with all the senses .. sights .. sounds .. smells.

I just had a dream that my cat was out to dinner with us and told me in his little cat voice .. I loved that big kiss you gave me yesterday .. produced a great sense of tranquility.

Prior to taking SJW I was having lots of nightmares .. they seem to have stopped and been replaced by lucid, good, positive dreams.

A positive quality I'm feeling more and more in my waking life.

So, as above, even if it's only placebo, SJW has a fan in this 40-year-old Australian.


On 20 November 2007 (06:51 PM), xwintersunx said:

I have to agree about the amazing dreams. I drink St. John's wort through tea, quite a lot i might add, and i have been having constant, fantastic dreams for the past week. I don't even suffer from depression, i just drink the stuff because it's like trippin on acid but in a completely safe dream!


On 20 November 2007 (06:53 PM), xwintersunx said:

I have to agree about the amazing dreams. I drink St. John's wort through tea, quite a lot i might add, and i have been having constant, fantastic dreams for the past week. I don't even suffer from depression, i just drink the stuff because it's like trippin on acid but in a completely safe dream!