LIFE EXTENSION UPDATE JULY 6 2001
IN THIS ISSUE, JULY 6 2001:
LIFE EXTENSION UPDATE EXCLUSIVE : JAMA publishes letters in defense of St
John's Wort for depression
FEATURED PRODUCTS OF THE WEEK: St John's Wort, TMG
BOOK: Hypericum & Depression
JULY 2001 LIFE EXTENSION MAGAZINE NOW ONLINE!
LIFE EXTENSION UPDATE EXCLUSIVE
JAMA publishes letters in defense of St John's Wort for depression
This week's Journal of the American Medical Association published several
letters in response to their April 18 2001 publication of a study that
indicated a lack of benefit of St John's wort for people with severe
depression. Correspondence was published from individuals at the American
Botanical Council, Georgetown University's Department of Psychiatry, The
Council for Responsible Nutrition, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, St
John's Episcopal Hospital, the Nathan Kline Institute for Psychiatric
Research, George Washington University School of Medicine and others. The
study, entitled, "Effectiveness of St John's Wort in Major Depression: a
randomized controlled trial," compared the effectiveness of St John's wort
to a placebo in subjects with severe depression who were treated for eight
weeks. In this study's analysis, 26.5% of those on St John's Wort
responded to the herb compared to 18.6% of those on placebo, although
according to one definition of remission the authors listed these figures
as 14.3% compared to 4.9%. Although the researchers concluded that St
John's wort is safe and well-tolerated, they stated that it was
ineffective for major depression, and with their usual zeal, news media
throughout the country were quick to publish one-sided headlines.
One of the points emphasized by several different correspondents was the
fact that if this two hundred person study proves that St John's Wort is
not effective for the majority of people with severe depression, the herb
works remarkably well for the large body of individuals with mild to
moderate depression, which has been demonstrated in thirty-one previous
peer-reviewed trials. Correspondents pointed out that the trial did not
feature a group receiving conventional antidepressants which would
indicate whether the study was sensitive enough to detect effectiveness,
while others called the study design "flawed", or described possible
defects in the statistical analysis. One letter was from the authors of a
double-blind study demonstrating that St John's Wort was as effective as
the established antidepressant sertraline hydrochloride. The authors made
note of the fact that the authors of the current study in question
criticized their study because it did not include enough people with
severe depression, yet the researchers did not set out to evaluate the
herb's effect on depression that was other than mild to moderate.
Severe depression is a serious disease, with consequences that can be
life-threatening. If you are depressed, see your doctor. Those with mild
to moderate depression, a widespread condition that effects many of us at
different points in our lives, may wish to try St John's Wort, a natural
remedy that has fewer side effects than prescription drugs. (With St
John's Wort, as with any other substance, there are some instances in
which it should not be used. Read about these in the "Featured Products
of the Week" section below and click the link to the product description.)
The many and varied symptoms of endogenous depression may include:
Profound, persistent sadness
Profound, persistent irritability
Loss of self-esteem
Feelings of hopelessness
Feelings of pessimism
Feelings of helplessness
Feelings of worthlessness
Feelings of guilt
Feelings of emptiness
Continually mulling over the past, reviewing the errors you've made.
Changes in sleeping patterns
Changes in eating habits
Unexplained weight gain or loss
A "slow down" in physical movements
Inability to concentrate
Difficulty making decisions
Loss of interest in usually pleasurable activities
Loss of interest in sex
Unexplained headaches, stomach upset, or other physical problems that are
not helped with standard treatment
Thoughts of suicide or death
The symptoms may come in any combination. They can build gradually or
strike hard and fast. Some of the symptoms may manifest as either too much
or too little of the same thing. Mildly depressed people, for example, may
gain weight as they seek comfort in favorite foods, and those suffering
from more profound depression may lose weight as their appetites are
deadened by sadness. Sleep patterns also may be affected this way. Some
depressed people have difficulty falling or staying asleep, while others
sleep more than usual but awaken feeling tired.
In Germany, where it is covered by health insurance as a prescription
drug, some 20 million people take hypericum for depression. Hypericum's
side effects are very mild, and may include slight gastrointestinal
irritation and fatigue. In one study involving more than 1000 patients,
hypericum produced fewer side effects than a placebo. Some types of
depression, such as severe, debilitating depression and bipolar depression
(also known as manic depressive illness), do not respond to hypericum.
Indeed, these are very difficult problems to treat even with standard
FEATURED PRODUCTS OF THE WEEK
St John's Wort
St. John's Wort (hypericum extract) has been widely studied for its
antidepressant properties and is widely prescribed in Europe in lieu of
expensive, side-effect prone drugs.
In a report published in the British Medical Journal (Dec 11, 1999), St.
John's Wort was shown to be equally effective to a tricyclic
antidepressant drug (imipramine) in treating depression. This study
compared the effects of St. John's Wort, imipramine, or placebo on 283
moderately depressed people. After eight weeks, the doctors found that St.
John's Wort alleviated depression symptoms significantly more than the
placebo and just as well as the anti-depressant drug. St. John's Wort has
proven to be exceptionally safe for healthy people to take.
St. John's Wort should not be taken with MAO (monoamine oxidase)
Use caution when initiating St. John's Wort if SSRIs such as Prozac,
Paxil, and Zoloft are being taken.
St. John's Wort may reduce the availability of certain prescription drugs
such as the anti-HIV drug, Indinavir.
St. John's Wort may cause increased skin sensitivity to UV light.
Do not take St. John's Wort if you are taking any other prescription
When a TMG methyl group is donated to a molecule of homocysteine, it is
converted first to methionine then to S-adenosyl-methionine (SAMe). No
"safe" level of homocysteine has been established, suggesting that taking
nutrients like TMG could lower the risk of heart attack and stroke, in
addition to protecting DNA.
Two to five tablets daily are suggested for healthy people.
Six to twelve tablets daily may be taken under the care of a physician to
treat liver failure or depression. If muscle tension or headaches occur,
TMG should be taken with co-factor vitamins B6 and B12, and folic acid.
Hypericum & Depression
Hypericum is the herb hypericum perforatum, also known as St John's Wort.
Hypericum has been used for thousands of years as a medicine. In
Hypericum & Depression, two noted psychiatrists report on the recent
medical research that could change the way depression is treated in
America. (In Germany, hypericum accounts for more than fifty percent of
the antidepressant market. Prozac has two percent.)
In a simple, straight-forward style, the authors explain what depression
is, how to know if one is depressed, the medical effects of hypericum on
depression, and where to find research-grade hypericum.
JULY 2001 LIFE EXTENSION MAGAZINE NOW ONLINE!
As we see it: Drugs the FDA says you can't have
Cover Story: Who is Mary J Ruwart?
Curriculum Vitae of Mary J Ruwart
What you can do to reform the FDA
Fats for Life
Arthritis victims suffered . . . cancer victims died, while an effective
therapy already existed
A life-saving drug discovered in the United States over twenty years ago
is saving lives around the world . . . but not here yet
Needless brain wasting
In the News: Blood pressure drug reverses sexual dysfunction; Is your dog
July 2001 Medical Updates: Homocysteine, Selenium, Alpha-lipoic acid and
July 2001 Abstracts: Fats, Nimesulid
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