In Praise of St. John’s Wort

by J.D. Roth

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I don’t care if the benefits from St. John’s Wort are the result of a placebo effect, and I don’t care whether there’s genuine physiological response to the stuff. It works for me, and that’s all that matters.

St. John’s is purportedly a mild all-natural anti-depressant. Its proponents are fond of declaring that it is the most widely used anti-depressant in Germany. From early-May to mid-August I took 300mg of St. John’s Wort three times a day. From early-May to mid-August I felt pretty good, was able to shake the depression that had begun to latch onto me.

Then, for whatever reason, I stopped taking the stuff. Gradually — so gradually as to be imperceptible to me — I sunk back into depression until by the end of November I was mired sorrow and self-pity. I was paralyzed by self-analysis. Just before Christmas I began taking the St. John’s Wort again. “What the hell?” I thought. “It can’t hurt.”

Boy, howdy!

I noticed positive effects within days. (The true benefits of St. John’s Wort take a few weeks to manifest themselves; it takes time for the stuff to accumulate in your system.) The past couple days have been especially fine. I’ve felt at ease in group situations, I’ve felt good about myself and about the world in general. I’m eager to refocus on things like my diet, my finances, and my writing.

So, please: if you know (or suspect) that St. John’s Wort is bunk, please don’t tell me about it. Let me enjoy the placebo effect.

(Also: apparently it was the St. John’s Wort and not the melatonin that had gave me such fantastic lucid dreams last spring and summer. The dreams faded when I stopped with the St. John’s Wort, and now they’ve returned in the past couple weeks. Crazy dreams, wild stuff. Exhausting. I love it.)


As I mentioned above, I’m ready to write again. Story ideas have begun to occur to me while I’m driving, so that I have to pull over and jot them down on the backs of business cards. I’m researching the writing classes offered by the various colleges in the Portland area. I’m reading about writing. And, perhaps most importantly, I’ve joined Andrew, Josh, and Paul H. to establish the Eastmoreland Writers’ Guild (or Woodstock Writers’ Guild, if you prefer). Our hope is that monthly meetings will goad us into productivity.

Updated: 04 January 2006

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