2007-02-21 00:00:00

St. John’s Wort - Ten Brands Studies

Consumer Labs is a unbiased lab that evaluated supplements and determines if that contain the ingredients that they claim.? The following is from a report that was published from consumer labs in which they studies 10 different brands of St. John’s wort.

The vast majority of double blind placebo-controlled studies have found that St. John’s wort extracts are effective as a treatment for mild to moderate depression. However, three well-publicizedhuman studies found no benefit with St. John’s wort; two of them also found the antidepressant with which St. John’s wort was compared ineffective for treating depression. These seemingly paradoxical results may have been due to factors such as the products tested, the outcomes being measured, and the number of people involved in the studies. Note that the expression “mild to moderate depression” does not refer to mere “blues” or “moodiness.” Rather, it means “major depression of mild to moderate severity.” This rather confusing terminology refers to true clinical depression, simply not the most severe form of clinical depression. (As a rule of thumb, people with the most severe forms of clinical depression are probably depressed enough to need hospitalization. People with mild to moderate major depression usually do not need hospitalization.) St. John’s wort does not cause euphoria and, like regular antidepressants, is unlikely to elevate mood in people who aren’t truly depressed.

When used for mild to moderate depression, St. John’s wort appears to offer approximately the same amount of benefits as standard antidepressants including antidepressants in the SSRI (Prozac) category. For severe major depression, standard antidepressants are thought to be more effective than St. John’s wort.

One study involving menopausal women withdepression found that a combination of St. John’s wort and black cohosh extracts improved both menopause symptoms and mood. St. John’s wort is also sometimes tried for other conditions in which standard antidepressants might be recommended, such as anxiety, attention deficit disorder, PMS, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), chronic pain, insomnia, neuropathic pain, obsessive compulsive disorder, social phobia, and quitting smoking, but there is no reliable evidence as yet that it really works for these purposes.?

Among the 10 products selected by ConsumerLab.com for evaluation, only four passed the testing. The other six failed for the following reasons:

  • Two were immediately dropped from further testing because they lacked information about the part of the St. John’s wort plant used (which should be the aerial portions, e.g., flowers and leaves) ? a FDA labeling requirement under the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act. The products are:
    • MRM Metabolic Response Modifiers? St. John’s Wort
    • Sci-Fit St. John’s Wort
  • Two supplements failed testing due to contamination with heavy metals. Interestingly, these were the only two products to contain some or all of their St. John’s wort as whole herb, rather than extract. Extracts may benefit from removal of these metals during their processing. Although alone these products do not pose a health risk, they represent avoidable sources of contaminants:
    • Solaray? Organically Grown St. John’s Wort exceeded by over 100% the cadmium limit proposed for medicinal plants by the World Health Organization (WHO). It may seem odd that the product was contaminated despite its claim to be “certified” as organically grown. While this implies the non-use of chemical pesticides, one should not assume that it assures the absence of other contaminants.
    • Spring Valley? Standardized Extract St. Johns Wort 0.3% exceeded the WHO limit for cadmium by a small amount and also contained slightly more lead than permitted by the State of California without a warning label.
  • Two products contained somewhat less of the St. John’s wort compounds claimed on their labels:
    • Pure Encapsulations? Hypericum 0.3? (St. John’s Wort) had only 59% of its claimed hyperforin and 89% of its claimed hypericin.
    • Source Naturals? St. John’s Wort 450? had 84% of its claimed hypericin.

The four brand of St. John’s wort that were recommended by consumer labs are as follows:

Doctor’s Trust? Vitamins St. John’s Wort Extract (300 mg standardized extract per capsule, 1-2 per day)

Gaia Herbs St. John’s Wort Extra Strength (450 mg liquid extract per tablet, 2 per day)

Kira? St. John’s Wort (300 mg extract per tablet, 3 per day)

MRM Metabolic Response Modifiers? St. John’s Wort 450 mg 0.3% Hypercins (450 mg per capsule, 1-2 per day)

Filed under: — @ 2007-02-21 00:00:00