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Dec
15

A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO USING ST JOHN’S WORT: MONITORING YOUR PROGRESS

Posted by admin

How can you monitor your progress on St John’s Wort? The answer to this might seem obvious. Surely the medication either works or it doesn’t. What is there to monitor, you might ask. Well, it is not always so clear-cut when a problem is relatively subtle to start with or when the response is modest or partial. I always find it useful to keep an eye on what are known as the target symptoms – those presenting problems that are part of the reason why someone is seeking help in the first place. We measure whether an anti-depressant is working or not by focusing on changes in the target symptoms. In the case of someone with mild symptoms of depression or stress, such target symptoms might be lack of one’s usual enjoyment or enthusiasm for life, decreased energy, anxiety or sleep difficulties. It is worth listing these target symptoms and observing each week whether you can observe any improvement in them.

I have been impressed with the highly variable time course of response to St John’s Wort. Some people report feeling better within days of beginning the herbal remedy, whereas for others the response is far slower and more subtle. A proper trial takes at least five to six weeks. If you are still feeling down in the dumps or overstressed at that point, I suggest that you take some further step, such as consulting a GP or therapist. If you are feeling better and are not suffering any significant side-effects, you may wish to stay on the St John’s Wort regimen for a further three months before thinking of tapering it and determining whether you can maintain the gains without any further help from the herbal remedy. If you experience unacceptable side-effects, feel free to lower the dosage and see whether you still feel better. You can always raise it again later if you need to.

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