Thursday, February 6, 2014

Can The St John's Wort Herb Help ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Sufferers?

Before I begin...

I am a Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome sufferer myself but I am not medically trained! I am merely passing on to you, things I have read and learnt which may interest you. I am not a 'health expert', so please - if you come across anything in this article that you find interesting, do a little research on it yourself and contact your doctor or health professional about it before taking any advice from this article.

Depression, anxiety and sleep disorders can all be symptoms of ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Whereas some ME/CFS sufferers may never experience depression and anxiety as symptoms of their ME/CFS, others unfortunately do.

For example, according to Dr Shepherd in his book 'Living With ME', true clinical depression probably affects between 25-33% of ME/CFS sufferers at some stage.

Many ME/CFS sufferers are prescribed antidepressants to help them sleep and to ease their fatigue (even if they are not depressed). But although prescribed antidepressants do help **some** ME/CFS sufferers, others find that they experience bad side-effects.

St Johns Wort (also known as Hypericum perforatum) is an interesting natural alternative to prescription antidepressants.

Many medics seem to say that it has far fewer side effects, yet it apparently works just as effectively as common SSRI antidepressants such as Prozac, Paxil/Seroxat and Zoloft. In fact, according to Dr Charles Shepherd in his book 'Living With M.E.' (mentioned above), St John's Wort seems to have a lower incidence of side effects (around 20%) - much lower than that seen with conventional antidepressant drugs (around 60%).

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For more information about the 'darker side' of SSRI antidepressants visit:

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With a 2,400 year history of safe and effective use, the use of St Johns Wort has risen dramatically recently, especially in Britain. And in Germany, they apparently use St Johns Wort a lot to treat depression, anxiety and sleep disorders, all of which, as mentioned earlier, can be symptoms of ME/CFS.

St John's Wort has both anti-viral and anti-depressive properties and has been used by Europeans for centuries as a remedy for:

- sleep
- depression
- anxiety
- menstrual cramps
- menopausal stress
- irritability
- neuralgia
- tension

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To find out how St Johns Wort works visit:

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Having said that, one of the most common side effects of St John's Wort is fatigue, which is obviously relevant when you suffer from ME/CFS! So if you do try St John's Wort, keep an eye on your energy levels. If they plummet even further, it may be a sign to rethink whether you should be taking it or not.

What's more, St John's Wort **has** been found to interfere with some prescription medicines. Studies published in the Lancet and the British Medical Journal have shown that St John's Wort speeds up the breakdown of medicines in the body, leading to lower levels of the drugs in the blood. So if you're taking other medication or supplements of any kind, that's another factor for you and your doctor to consider before taking St Johns Wort.

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There are other side effects and dangers of St Johns Wort. You can find out more about some of these on this page:

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As with taking any new substance for the first time, the best thing you can do is to approach St Johns Wort with caution.

In essence, you should **not** take St John's Wort until you have checked with your doctor that it is safe to do so. It's also often advised to start slowly with a low dosage.

Although sometimes it gets remarkable results, sometimes St John's Wort does nothing. It really is down to the individual. But research suggests that you do need to take St John's Wort for a number of weeks in order for it to work.

Bottom line?

Always, ALWAYS check with your doctor first before taking St Johns Wort. And if you do decide to take it, keep an eye on your energy levels. If your fatigue worsens noticeably, then just be aware that it might be the St Johns Wort that's causing it.

And if you do decide to try St Johns Wort, remember that research shows that you need to take St Johns Wort for a few weeks in order for it to start working.


Copyright, Claire Williams, 2003-2005. All Rights Reserved.


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