St. John’s wort and ginkgo biloba improve mood

St. John’s wort improved symptoms of depression and ginkgo biloba reduced anxiety, in four new studies.

Doctors from the Depression Clinical and Research Program at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston believe there is a growing body of evidence that St. John’s wort helps treat depression. In the first phase of a two-part study, researchers reporting in the journal Bio Med Central Medicine found that of 332 men and women with mild to moderate depression, those who took 600 mg or 1,200 mg of St. John’s wort per day had significantly fewer symptoms compared to placebo after six weeks. While both St. John’s wort groups improved, significantly more of those who had taken 1,200 mg of St. John’s wort reported no further symptoms of depression (remission).

Because major depression can linger, doctors invited those whose depression symptoms had improved at least 50% in the first phase of the study to take 600 mg or 1,200 mg of St. John’s wort per day, or a placebo, for four more months. Those in the St. John’s wort groups continued to improve while symptoms increased for placebo group.

In another St. John’s wort study reported in Pharmacopsychiatry, participants recovering from an episode of moderate to severe depression took a daily dose of 900 mg or 1,800 mg of St. John’s wort, or 20 mg or 40 mg of Paxil, for 16 weeks. St. John’s wort was as effective as Paxil in preventing a relapse with no serious side effects.

In a ginkgo biloba study reported in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, 107 younger adults with acute and chronic anxiety disorders took 240 mg or 480 mg of ginkgo biloba extract per day or a placebo for four weeks. Compared to placebo, both ginkgo biloba groups had significantly less anxiety and those who had taken the higher dose of ginkgo biloba had more relief than those who had taken the lower dose. Doctors noted that ginkgo biloba stabilizes mood in older adults and wanted to test ginkgo biloba in younger adults.