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Forsch Komplementmed. 2010 Mar;17(1):7-14. doi: 10.1159/000277628. Epub 2010 Feb 4.

A hypericum extract in the treatment of depressive symptoms in outpatients: an open study.

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Dept. of Internal Medicine, Institute of Complementary Medicine, University Hospital Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.



Extracts of Hypericum perforatum have demonstrated in randomized trials (RCTs) to be effective in mild to moderate depressive episodes. However, as their use in daily practice may differ from that in RCTs we have conducted a study to achieve a better estimate of the range and frequency of adverse drug reactions (ADR) and the efficacy.


In an observational study in Germany, adult outpatients with depressive syndrome were treated with an extract of St. John's Wort. Study duration was 12 weeks, with control visits every 4 weeks. Besides anamnestic data, the variables assessed were: evolution of ICD-10 derived symptom score, Global Clinical Impression scale (GCI), and tolerability.


1,778 patients from 304 centers participated in the study (mean duration of disorder 7.3 +/- 18.9 months), and 1,541 patients completed it. At the last control visit the ICD-10 sum score had dropped by 63.1% and the proportion of patients described as 'normal to mildly ill' (GCI-s) had increased from 21.6% at admission to 72.4%. Regarding the GCI-i, 77% of the patients had improved 'very much' or 'much' at the last visit. This was consistent with their self-assessment (76%). Lower age and shorter duration of the disorder were associated with significantly better outcomes. The incidence of ADRs was 3.54% and had been decreasing continuously from the first control visit onwards; serious ADRs did not occur.


The herbal drug was well tolerated, and no new or serious ADR were identified. In view of the limitations inherent to the study design, it can be concluded that extracts of St. John's Wort are effective as an antidepressant in the management of depression in daily practice.

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