Frequently Asked Questions

14. Can the herb St. John's wort or other natural products be used to treat depression?

You may have heard about an herbal medicine called St. John's wort. Although it is a top-selling botanical product, the FDA has not approved its use as an over-the-counter or prescription medicine for depression and there are serious concerns about its safety and effectiveness.

Do not use St. John’s wort before talking to your health care provider. It should never be combined with a prescription antidepressant, and you should not use it to replace conventional care or to postpone seeing a health care provider.

(Watch the video to hear a short scientific discussion about how St. John's wort interacts with medications. To enlarge the video, click the brackets in the lower right-hand corner. To reduce the video, press the Escape (Esc) button on your keyboard.)

Other natural products sold as dietary supplements, including omega-3 fatty acids and S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) remain under study but have not been proven safe and effective for routine use.

Keep in mind that dietary supplements can cause medical problems if not used correctly or if used in large amounts, and some may interact with medications you take. Your health care provider can advise you. For more information on herbal and other complementary approaches and current research, please visit the website for the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.