|New Herbal Treatment May Make Prozac Obsolete|
Antidepressants are now the most widely prescribed drugs in North America, and where depression is a problem many primary care physicians resort to prescription drugs even before recommending the most basic psychological evaluation.
A large class of natural herbal treatments with very definite psychoactive properties are widely recognized in Europe as viable alternatives to antidepressant drugs such as Prozac, Wellbutrin, Zoloft, and Paxil. "The herbal antidepressants have literally taken over the Prozac marketplace in Germany," writes Dr. Daniel Beilin, an herbalist and acupuncturist in Aptos, California.
ProzaPlex, a new herbal treatment that is giving Prozac a run for its money, is based on an herb called St. John's Wort, which also goes by the more technical name Hypericum peforatum.
Among several modes of action, Hypericum is recognized for its ability to:
This is powerful stuff, not to be used as indiscriminately as, say, vitamin C or garlic supplements. But the multiplicity of modes of action sheds light onto the real differences between drug and herbal treatment: The drug manufacturer attempts to isolate a single action and to refine and purify a single chemical product that will affect that action and do a minimum of other things. Prozac is a good example. Earlier antidepressants inhibited the reduction of both serotonin and norepinephrine. But the second mode of action caused side effects like drowsiness, dry mouth, and blurred vision. So that part was eliminated, and Prozac probably works through one mechanism alone.
The Hypericum-based herbal treatment, on the other hand, spreads the effect over a much greater number of elements in the total neurological and hormonal picture, making it far less likely that any one resulting action will produce unintended and undesirable side effects. Herbal treatment formulations in general take this one step further by combining many herbs that have overlapping modes of action. That way, the probability of developing a tolerance for one substance, leading to diminishing results, is greatly reduced.
Numerous studies confirm its effectivenessThere is now little doubt concerning the effectiveness of this approach. An article in Clinical Research (vol. 313, no. 7052, pp. 253-8) reported results from 23 randomized trials involving a total of 1,757 subjects with mild to moderately severe depressive disorders. Fifteen of these studies were placebo controlled, and eight compared Hypericum with another drug treatment. Hypericum extracts outperformed the placebo by a factor of 2.7 and were at least as effective as standard antidepressant preparations.
One double-blind, placebo-controlled study, representative of several published in Germany, found a 70 percent response rate among 97 outpatients who received 100 to 120 mg of Hypericum extract. "Treatment resulted in an appreciable improvement in the symptoms of depression, and the 70 percent response rate corresponded to that of chemical antidepressants. The substances were extremely well tolerated, and no side effects were reported by any of the patients. (Fortschritte der Medizin, vol. 113, no. 28, pp. 408)
And from another article in Fortschritte der Medizin (vol. 113, no. 25, pp. 354-5): "Recent studies have shown that it [St. John's Wort] is clinically effective for the treatment of the symptoms of depression. It has proved superior to placebos and equally as beneficial as standard medication, over which it has a clear advantage in terms of side effects. It follows that, on the basis of our present knowledge, St. John's wort can be recommended for use as an antidepressant."
A good thing made even betterDr Beilin prefers ProzaPIex because, in addition to Hypericum perforatum, ProzaPIex contains kava kava root (Piper Methysticum), Schizandra chinensis, passionflower (Passiflora incarnata), zinc salts, and orchid root extract (Cypripedium).
New St. John's Wort Formula Adds Important Botanicals
The nature of depression and the far-reaching effects of many of the treatment options argue against self-treatment, even with a relatively safe herbal remedy. However, not everyone has access to a practitioner who is sympathetic to the alternatives to drugs, especially outside of Europe. So a few warnings are in order for the experimenters. Because of Hypericum's suppression of response to light, there is increased danger of serious sunburn while using it. Keep this in mind especially if you are using any photosensitizing drugs. Also, the mechanism that increases dopamine levels inhibits prolactin, so nursing mothers should avoid Hypericum.
In addition, tyramine-containing foods (red wine, aged cheese, chicken liver, soy sauce, sauerkraut and most especially dairy products, should not be taken with Hypericum unless blood pressure is monitored.
Each capsule of ProzaPlex provides:
Suggested Use: As a dietary supplement, one (1) capsule, one to three times daily with meals, or as directed by your health practitioner.
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