Loser's Guide to
St. John's Wort

Is there a way to avoid Prozac, Zoloft and the gamut of prescription antidepressants? Many unemployed losers like the ol' lavahead just cannot afford to consult a professional and obtain a prescription for such medication. And, even if a loser can get a prescription, will he be able to afford the drug itself? This dilemma is depressing in and of itself. 

There has been renewed hope for the depressed derelict, however. It comes in the form of an over-the-counter "herb" called St. John's Wort. Hypericum perforatum, as it is clinically known, has been dispensed in at least one European country as an effective antidepressant. In the US, one does not need a prescription to obtain St. John's Wort. It is readily available in most health food stores. Anyway, who really cares about that crap? 

Test Case

What we all really want to know is if St. John's Wort works or not? Well, if you have followed the saga of The Keeper of Lost Lives (aka the ol' lavahead), then you may recall that he went through hell and back when he experienced that dreadful time of reckoning (circa July 1998). The symptoms were coincident with the garden variety chronic depression or possibly dysthymia. In addition, he suffered from frequent panic attacks and chronic anxiety. 

Thanks to LoserNet reader Robert (rbryant@mci2000.com), the ol' lavahead received an ample supply of St. John's Wort. The recommended daily dosage is about 900 to 1000mg of hypercilin (the active ingredient). St. John's Wort is usually dispensed in pills that contain between 300 to 450mg of hypercilin, so it must be taken twice to three times daily. The recommended period of use is about eight weeks upon the first symptoms of moderate depression. If the symptoms have already progressed to more severe forms of depression, they not be effectively treated with St. John's Wort. 

The ol' lavahead had just gone through his time of reckoning. The aftershocks of the event were still being felt when the St. John's Wort arrived. He observed that there was a possibility that a mild to moderate depression still lingered when the St. John's Wort was first administered to himself. The following are excerpts from the ol' lavahead's firsthand experience. The Great Wort Experiment begins! 

Wort Week One

    "I immediately popped a Wort tablet in my mouth. A few hours later, I was not able to discern anything unsual. I just felt normal. No mania, no depression. The Wort could be doing exactly what it is supposed to be doing. Of course, I'm not 'in a funk' (as Steph would say) like I was even just a week ago." 

    "I continue to have trouble sleeping. It is as if I cannot fall asleep. This could be a side effect of the Wort. I have not had any bouts of melancholia, which is good." 

    "I am not exactly sure whether the Wort is clouding my perception or that maybe it is making me see things clearer. Maybe the Wort is not responsible for anything. All I know is that my time of reckoning may have served a different purpose, one that has eluded me until now." 

    "A few weeks ago, those thoughts would have sent me into a tizzy. And then, I would spiral downward into the abyss. I have reason to believe that the St. John's Wort is definitely preventing me from crashing and burning. However, I am beginning to sound a little more paranoid. Is that a side effect of the Wort?" 

    "Wort, don't fail me now!"

Wort Week Two

    "As I mentioned, the Wort has no effect on curbing anger or anxiety. I observed that, even if I feel normal, I am prone to minor anxiety attacks or bouts of anger. I assume that the real problems still remain just below the surface. Until those issues are resolved, I can expect to display more erratic behavior. The Wort (or any other medication) is designed to to allow a depressed person to function somewhat normally for an extended period of time. During that time, it is that person's responsibility to begin to address the problems that are at the root of the dysfunction. However, many of us tend to just be relieved to feel better. We forget that the problems are still there. Only after the medication starts wearing off do we realize that." 

    "This is Day Fourteen of the Great Wort Experiment. At this point, I'm once again uncertain about the effectiveness of the Wort. However, I don't dare take myself off of it. So, in effect, I must believe that it is doing something. I haven't experienced any feelings of depression, although there are days like today that I feel really blasé. I guess the real clue is that I feel normal and I don't know why. I should be going into a tizzy about a variety of nonsense. Maybe it's time for me to go to the health food store and buy an ample supply of Wort. Sheesh!"

Wort Week Three

    "I didn't sleep at all last night, so I know that there will be rough times ahead. I have to insure that I don't fall into the abyss at this point. So, if the Wort is worth a damned, it will keep me afloat." 

    "The Wort is apparently doing its job. Either that or I'm completely over my time of reckoning. The Great Wort Experiment will continue to run its course no matter what. I think that the most important part of recovery is to deal with the root problems. Sometimes adversity makes these problems come to the surface. Any kind of medication (e.g., Wort) can only serve to provide temporary relief. I just hope that I have finally nipped this crap in the bud."

Wort Week Four

    "In fact, I felt as though I was slipping into the abyss again today. I don't even know why. If I had to venture to guess, I'd say it was because I'm ready to enter my tenth month of chronic unemployment. The Great Wort Experiment is still going strong. That may have been my saving grace this time around." 

    "The Great Wort Experiment continues. I have almost depleted my supply of Wort. In order to complete the duration of the experiment, I will have to secure another four-week supply. Have you noticed the number of products that now have Wort as an ingredient? Yep, everything from smoothies to lipstick. Whassup wi' dat? Incidentally, I believe that one can deliberately supercede the affect of the Wort. The standard dosage of the Wort does not make it impossible to fall into the abyss."

Wort Week Five

    "I don't know whether the Wort is what keeps me from slipping back into the abyss or not. Nothing has really changed for me but I have a different outlook these days. Sure, I have my moments of doubt especially during peiods of sleep deprivation." 

    "I have come a long way in the last few weeks. Maybe I owe it all to the Wort. I can't say."

Wort Week Six

    "I might as well summarize the Great Wort Experiment up until this point in time. I have become somewhat dependent on the Wort. In fact, I believe that I may have to increase the dosage. I have been a little edgy myself, especially when I am due for another dose of Wort. Perhaps this is a psychosomatic response. I cannot be certain. Is it worth continuing the Great Wort Experiment? Sure. I cannot risk the experience of another time of reckoning. I cannot slide into the abyss. Even if the Wort is merely a placebo, I have no reason to taunt the sinister kahuna into proving that wrong. So far, I have not noticed any side effect as a result of prolonged Wort consumption. There seems to be no psychological impairment and absolutely no aberrations in personality. Will I continue the Wort after the eight-week period? I think so. I don't believe that I have come to grips with all the issues I am grappling with. I just cannot forget that I am possibly buying time with the Wort."

Wort Week Seven

"Sheesh! I wonder if the Wort is an antidote for voodoo curses. It seems to cure everything else, right? Speaking of the Wort, we are now in the seventh week of the Great Wort Experiment. Only one more week and I'll be posting the final summation concerning the effectiveness of the Wort."

"I am about to enter my eleventh month of chronic unemployment. Am I concerned? Baha! Ha! Ha! Haaaaa! Why should I be? The sinister kahuna will get its way no matter what. I might as well sashay down to GNC and buy a few more bottles of Wort. Well, hey! They're on sale for $6.99! I'm going to need them for the long, cold Winter ahead."

Wort Week Eight

"This is the start of the final week of the Great Wort Experiment. Hard as it may be to believe, we have already been through seven weeks with the Wort. I still have no idea whether the Wort is effective or not. I have read a few more references and the summaries were equivocal. Sometimes it is hard to place much faith in a product that is merely a health food supplement. Yet, in a way, I have become reliant on this foolish plant extract. I take my prescribed dosages religiously, and I become apprehensive about my ability to function when I inadvertently miss a dose. Scary, isn't it?"

"This is the last day of the Great Wort Experiment, although I still have an ample supply of Wort. I will continue to use the Wort indefinitely. As the anniversary of my sobriety comes up, I fully expect the sinister kahuna to snap into action. My chronic unemployment does little to help. Thus, I need all the help I can get. If the Wort is the only help available, then so be it. I have had ample opportunity to fall back into the abyss. So far, that has not happened. Perhaps it's due to my vigilance. Only time will tell."


The final results of The Great Wort Experiment are inconclusive. Did we expect anything more? There are too many factors involved and, even if this had been a controlled experiment, those factors tend to cloud the outcome. There is ample reason to believe that St. John's Wort is effective as an adjunct remedy for mild to moderate depression. However, cases of chronic depression may not be effectively treated with St. John's Wort. Reliance on St. John's Wort alone may prove detrimental in the long run.

Belief in the ability of St. John's Wort to alleviate the symptoms of depression may, in itself, effect the desired relief. Mind over matter. Further research is required. In any case, it may be worth a try if you suffer from moderate forms of depression. If you have not noticed any improvement in your mood and disposition, you may need to seek professional assistance. Remember, there is nothing wrong with asking for help when you need it.

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