After a lifetime battling depression , Roelke says the herb St. John's wort made all the difference. "I've been free of depression for a number of years. It was like being reborn. It's wonderful."
But now a new study claims it's not effective in treating certain forms of depression — especially severe depression.
"Since there are effective treatments for depression, I would chose that first rather than going with St. John's wort," said Dr. Richard Shelton of Vanderbilt University.
Stephen Betts is one the 1,700 people used in the study. "It might be the perfect thing for someone else, but it certainly didn' do much for me."
But critics of the study point out few doctors have ever recommended St. John's wort for severe depression. And the study was paid for by the pharmaceutical company Pfizer — a leading manufacturer of antidepressant drugs.
Psychiatrist Dr. Hyla Cass recommends St. John's wort for many of her patients. "I know the research, I know that it does work, but every time it works it's like a miracle to me, to think that this little yellow flower has such potency."
A more conclusive, three year study by the National Institute of Mental Health is due out by the end of this year. In the meantime, people who swear by the effects of St. John's wort will stick with it — day in and day out.
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