Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

St. John's Wort Not Superior to Sertraline or Placebo. (in 340 Patients with Major Depression)

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

St. John's Wort Not Superior to Sertraline or Placebo. (in 340 Patients with Major Depression)

Article excerpt

In the first study of its kind, investigators found that St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum) is no more effective than either sertraline or placebo in treating patients with moderately severe major depression.

A study published last year showed that the herbal supplement was ineffective for treating major depression, compared with placebo. The latest study is the first to compare an extract of St. John's wort with a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) and placebo.

Conducted at 12 U.S. academic and community centers by the Hypericum Depression Trial Study Group, the study randomized 340 patients to receive either a standardized extract of St. John's wort in doses of up to 1,500 mg/day, sertraline in doses of up to 100 mg/day, or placebo for 8 weeks. The primary outcome measures were changes from baseline on the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAM-D) and the Clinical Global Impression of Improvement Scale (CGI-I).

Overall response rates among the participants--including full and partial responses--were 38% for hypericum, 43% for placebo, and 49% for sertraline (Zoloft).

Full responses were seen in 32% of placebo-treated patients, 24% of hypericum-treated patients, and 25% of sertraline-treated patients. These differences were not statistically significant, reported Dr. Jonathan R.T. Davidson of Duke University Medical Center and Duke Clinical Research Institute, Durham, N.C., and his colleagues (JAMA 287[14]:1807-14, 2002).

Sertraline, however, did garner a higher percentage of partial responders (24%) than St. …

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