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Review: St John's wort is more effective than placebo for mild to moderate depressive disorders

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Question Are extracts of Hypericum perforatum (St John's wort [SJW]) more effective than placebo and as effective as low dose antidepressants for mild to moderate depressive disorders?

Data sources

Studies were identified by searching Medline (from 1983), PsycLIT (1987–97), Embase/Excerpta Medica (from 1989), the clinical trial registry of the Cochrane Collaboration Depression, Anxiety, and Neurosis Group, the Cochrane Field for Complementary Medicine, and the private database Phytodok (Munich); by scanning bibliographies of relevant articles; and by contacting authors and pharmaceutical companies.

Study selection

Studies were selected if they were randomised controlled trials that compared SJW with placebo or other antidepressants in patients with depressive disorders. Studies with physiological outcome measures only were excluded.

Data extraction

2 reviewers extracted data on study characteristics and results and assessed the …

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  • Sources of funding: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases and Karl und Veronica Carstens-Stiftung.

  • For correspondence: Dr K Linde, Münchener Modell-Centre for Complementary Medicine Research, Technical University, Ludwig-Maximilians Universität, Kaiserstrasse 9, 80801 Munich, Germany. Fax +49 89 393 484.

  • A modified version of this abstract appears in ACP Journal Club, Evidence-Based Medicine, and Evidence-Based Mental Health.

  • * Calculated from data in article.