When you learn that major depressive disorder is the top cause of disability for U.S. residents ages 15 to 44, it becomes evident just how many people need help [source: National Institute of Mental Health]. As it turns out, there may be some relief in St. John's wort.
According to Mayo Clinic psychiatrist Dr. Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, St. John's wort -- known in the science world as Hypericum perforatum -- has been used to treat depression for centuries. Although not approved by the U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA), it does have a following in Europe [source: Hall-Flavin].
But does it work? St. John's wort may be effective for mild to moderate depression, but doesn't appear to do the trick when it comes to severe depression [source: MedlinePlus].
So is St. John's wort for you? Speak with your doctor, but also consider these warnings. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine states that it can interact negatively with other medications. It also references other potential side effects, such as dizziness, headache, gastrointestinal symptoms and sexual dysfunction [source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine].