Hypericum and Other Alternatives

In the mid-1990s there was considerable interest in the possible use of Hypericum perforatum (St. John's Wort) as a new treatment for major depression. Numerous

European studies had suggested that Hypericum had equal efficacy to standard antidepressant drugs but was safer and more tolerable (Whiskey et al., 2001). Unfortunately, two well-designed large placebo-controlled U.S. studies failed to support the efficacy of Hypericum for the treatment of major depression (Shelton et al., 2001; Hypericum Depression Trial Study Group, 2002).

Several other alternative treatments are currently under investigation. Acupuncture is currently being studied as a potential treatment for depression. Initial reports from a controlled clinical trial have been encouraging (Schnyer and Allen, 2001). Exercise treatment has also shown promise (Babyak et al., 2000; Mather et al., 2002), although accomplishing a truly placebo-controlled trial is difficult.

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