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This past weekend, I gave a lecture at the annual Texas Medical Association meeting on various supplements and their interactions with other medications. One of the supplements that garnered a lot of discussion with the participants was the supplement St. John’s Wort.

St. John’s Wort, or hypericum perforatum, is a plant that has been used for thousands of years. It was named after John the Baptist as the plant usually starts to flower around the middle of June when there is a feast day for him. We have some documents that indicate even the ancient Greeks used the plant as a medicinal treatment. The plant now is made into an herbal supplement that is often used to treat mild to moderate depression. One study found that it was as effective as prescription antidepressants in helping with depressive symptoms. The plant has few side effects and can often be taken long-term without concern for long-term health issues. In the United States, St. John’s Wort is available over the counter. However, in most European countries, a prescription is required to use this supplement.

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