Frequently Asked Questions About St. John’s Wort And Depression


I got diagnosed with depression after dealing with one miscarriage after another in a span of two years. The first time it happened, I consoled myself by thinking that perhaps that baby was not meant for us; that’s why it was taken away before it could see the world. The second time it happened, I was still somewhat fine, considering I worked like a lunatic back then and did not know I was pregnant until I experienced spotting.

After that, I took some time off work in hopes of having another baby. Two months later, the pregnancy test came back positive, and my husband and I were thrilled. However, when I went for my monthly checkup on what’s supposed to be my fifth month, the doctor said that she could no longer hear a heartbeat. I had to get a C-section on the same day to take my unborn child out of me.

The doctor tried to console me by saying that stillborn babies were common worldwide, but she was too late as I already started to beat myself up over it. But even when I slightly moved on from it, I continued to experience bouts of depression, causing me to look for a non-drug way to handle it.

That’s when I heard about St. John’s wort.

Does St. John’s wort help with depression? 

Yes, St. John’s wort helps fight depression. Many experts have compared it to Prozac, a well-known antidepressant, and found that their effects are no different from each other. Despite that, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) categorizes it as a dietary supplement, so you must ask your doctor if you can consume St. John’s wort before buying it.

How much St. John’s wort should I take for depression? 

The official standard dosage of St. John’s wort that adults should take for depression is 300 milligrams. Some specialists may recommend taking it thrice a day after the first few weeks of the diagnosis. Then, things may ease up once the herb takes effect, and the patients may only need to take it once every day.

How long does St. John’s wort take to work for depression? 

While St. John’s wort has been useful for many individuals as an antidepressant, it is difficult to determine a specific number of days that you need to take it before the herb works for depression. Some claimed only to require two weeks; others had to consume St. John’s wort for months. 

Despite the lack of concrete information on this matter, no one should take too much St. John’s wort every day, hoping that it will speed up its effectiveness. Doing so may worsen your depressive symptoms.

Which is better for depression, St. John’s wort or 5-HTP? 

St. John’s wort and 5-HTP are two dietary supplements that have often been connected to depression over the years. Between the two of them, though, the former is more suitable to combat depression than the latter. The reason is that St. John’s wort is very much like the antidepressants that psychiatrists prescribe to their patients, although it is naturally found in the environment. The 5-HTP is only known to increase a person’s serotonin level, not improve other symptoms of depression.


What does St. John’s wort do to the brain? 

St. John’s wort is a well-known natural antidepressant; it works similarly to synthetic antidepressants. Meaning, it helps the brain produce more serotonin, the feel-good hormone that is insufficiently found in depressed people. However, taking more St. John’s wort than you need may cause you to shiver, feel anxious, or develop heart-related problems.

Does St. John’s wort make you gain weight? 

Many people want to believe that it cannot make you put on extra pounds, considering it is a natural herb. Others think that it can help with weight loss, even though experts strongly suggest that the herb is not intended for that. In truth, there is not enough research to support the idea that St. John’s wort makes you gain – or lose – weight up to this day.

Should I take St. John’s wort in the morning or night? 

It will be best if you take St. John’s wort in the morning – that is the safest time to do it. The reason is that it is challenging to assess how much of the herb is too much for your body, so you may have trouble falling asleep sometimes. In that case, you should perhaps use St. John’s wort to your advantage and allow it to help you stay awake during the day.   

Who should not take St. John’s wort? 

St. John’s wort is a reasonably harmless antidepressant, being a natural herb and all. However, it can interact harshly with blood thinners and cancer medications, so you should avoid taking St. John’s wort in any form if you need the drugs mentioned above. Furthermore, it is ill-advised to consume St. John’s wort if you are still taking another antidepressant because the effects of both may be too much for your body, and you may be unable to sleep.

What is the best natural antidepressant? 

St. John’s wort is the best natural antidepressant available in the market. It has been recognized as an effective antidepressant by many people for decades, although the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) still considers it a dietary supplement. And while anyone can drink it as tea or take it in pill form, you should not consume St. John’s wort if you take cancer drugs or blood thinners.

What foods to avoid when taking St. John’s wort? 

Although St. John’s wort is an all-natural antidepressant, there is a relatively wide variety of foods that you cannot eat while consuming the herb in any form. The list includes:

  • Banana
  • Beer
  • Chicken liver
  • Chocolate

The common denominator among these foods is tyramine, a natural substance that may cause a hypertensive crisis once it interacts with St. John’s wort.


Does St John’s wort make you sleepy? 

Yes, there have been studies claiming that St. John’s wort can help depressed individuals get rid of insomnia. However, you may get the opposite result if you take too much of the herbal extract. Hence, it will help if you keep your consumption to a minimum at all times.

Does St. John’s wort give you energy?

Technically, no, St. John’s wort does not give you energy. Instead, as a natural antidepressant, it can uplift your spirits. Hence, it may feel like you are getting an energy boost.

Final Thoughts

The jury is still out for St. John’s wort as I’m waiting for my psychiatrist to tell me if I can take it. In the meantime, I focus on myself and my marriage, still hoping that I’d be able to carry my next pregnancy to full term.

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