Mail (August, 1998)

St. John's Wort for Depression Helped P
from Cathy

Dear Ed: I happened upon your website today and saw that you were looking for experiences with antidepressants. I am 45 and have had psoriasis for the past five years, severe enough to be treated with Tegisone and PUVA and the usual litany of gook. Over the years, I have tried every looney strategy in NPF's "It works for me" [i>Bulletin column], as well as variations on every theme therein with never a trace of improvement (other than PUVA). Three months ago, a member of my immediate family was diagnosed with a terminal illness. I wouldn't describe myself as depressed—just severely sad. I started taking St. John's Wort about two months ago on the advice of a coworker, hoping that it might make me better able to cope with the situation. Within two weeks, I found that my emotions had evened out and that every trace of psoriasis was gone. Since then, it has attempted to recur, but I've fought it off with Skin Cap (I still have some and I'm not saying where). Maybe I'm just finally in remission, but the timing is suspect. I would love to know if anyone else has experienced this. Thanks for the site! -Cathy


Ed's Response: Let's pass along your inquiry and see if anyone else has had similar results. Prompted by your e-mail, I found two sites that seemed very informative about St. John's Wort:

Also known as Hypericum and, in the U.S. Northwest, "Klamath Weed," the flower of the plant (but also all of its above-ground parts) has been used for years to treat depression, pulmonary disorders and (of all things) bed wetting. One thing I learned in the second reference (above) is that the commercialized versions of the extract available in the U.S. are sometimes impure and some tests have found "standard prescription drugs such as benzodiazepines (a class of tranquilizers including Valium and Xanax), non-steroidal anti-inflammatories and corticosteroids." Such impurities would certainly tend to make the concoction perform as an antidepressant, and the anti-inflammatories and corticosteroids could palliate psoriasis symptoms (unbeknownst to you).

To curb some doubt, when you run out of your supply, try another extract by another manufacturer and see if your reaction is the same. Even if you suspect you may be getting "other things" in the product that benefit the psoriasis, that doesn't solve the mystery, because you have probably tried more direct treatments with anti-inflammatories and corticosteroids that did not work so well.

It is one of those palm-smacking-forehead DUHs? that keeps life interesting, eh Cathy? Maybe because the formulation you are using addresses two ills at once—depression and psoriasis—it's doing both jobs better than anything limited to one or the other? Certainly, if stress is one of your P triggers, palliating your depression at the same time you combat the lesions is reasonable. Or at least I would think so! Keep us apprized of how thing's develop. I want to think that a natural ingredient named after a Saint might work! -Ed


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