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St John’s Wort Extract May Help Manage Postmenopausal Symptoms and Depression By Dr Peter Alphonse, PhD


Mood imbalance and associated disorders have become increasingly common worldwide. Especially, substantial decline in the quality of life and increased susceptibility to psychological problems are usually observed during perimenopause, although certainly many postmenopausal women struggle with dysthymia and depression as well.  Hypericum perforatum (St John’s wort) is a well-known botanical for its mood enhancing activity exerted by various bioactive components present in it.

This recent double-blind placebo controlled randomized study has evaluated the effects of St John’s wort extract on hot flashes, menopausal symptoms, and depression in 80 postmenopausal women. The researchers randomized postmenopausal women aged 45–60 years in two groups to receive either tablets containing 270–330 μg of St John’s wort (treatment group, n=40) or placebo (control group, n=40) three times a day for two months.

A socio-demographic questionnaire based on the modified Kupperman index was used to collect data before the intervention and at 2, 4, 6 and 8 weeks after intervention. The researchers employed the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale before the intervention and at the eighth week of intervention. A total of 70 women completed the study. The results of the study showed that the frequency and intensity of hot flashes and the score of Kupperman scale significantly decreased in the treatment group who received St John’s wort extract compared to the control group. Also, the intensity of depression was found to be significantly reduced in the treatment group compared to the control group. Notably, 80% of women in the treatment group exhibited no depression related symptoms compared to only 5.7% in the control group.

This recent clinical study has highlighted the potent mood enhancing activity in a postmenopausal women population. Postmenopausal women suffering from hot flashes predominantly are also affected by depression. Despite the established efficacy of St John’s wort in managing mild to severe depression as an alternative approach, information on the link between depression with the physiological changes in postmenopause and the effect of St John’s wort on such symptoms is lacking. The study is well designed and controlled, and study researchers have demonstrated that St John’s wort could decrease menopausal symptoms as well as depression. Given the evidence, it could be surmised that St John’s wort extract is an effective botanical for reducing hot flashes, menopausal symptoms, and depression in postmenopausal women.

Eatemadnia A., et al. The effect of Hypericum perforatum on postmenopausal symptoms and depression: A randomized controlled trial. Complement Ther Med. 2019 Aug; 45:109-113.

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