Lifestyle and Daily Living

I’ve Started Using St Johns Wort To Treat My Mental Health Issues.

I've Started Using St Johns Wort To Treat My Mental Health Issues.

Having written about my experience with hormonal contraception and then last year about my abortion I thought it apt to share now what I’m going through generally.

Overall, I’m generally sufficient. I can get by, I can get through the day. But underneath everything I feel like a little vibrating ball of anxiety. Sometimes my mood can get really low. And it’s this anxiety and low mood that prevents me from being able to talk to a doctor.

I don’t need to get too much into it, but it’s taken me from turning 18 in 2017 to just this year to start to approach the doctor for some issues I’m facing when it comes to my hormones and my menstrual cycle – so approaching them regarding my mental health is another step that will probably take me a good few years.

I find myself struggling to speak up, to talk to people, and often crying in meetings at work because the anxiety of having a 1 to 1 is just too much to handle, no matter whether the feedback I’m receiving is positive or negative.

I need to start working on being better and having better control over my mental health – and so I’ve started to take St. Johns Wort.

What is St. Johns Wort?

Described on my box I bought from Morrisons, St Johns Wort is a “traditional herbal medicinal product used to relieve the symptoms of slightly low mood and mid anxiety”.

Further description by Mind describes St Johns Wort as a herbal medicine used to treat mental health problems. The botanical name for St Johns Wort is Hypericum Perforatum, and it contains many active substances including hypericin and hyperforin which are thought to affect mood. It’s mainly treated as an over-the-counter remedy to treat mild or moderate depression.

Are there side effects when taking St Johns Wort?

Typically reported side effects when taking St Johns Wort include:

  • feeling nauseous or being sick
  • diarrhoea
  • headaches
  • allergic reactions
  • tiredness
  • dizziness
  • confusion
  • a dry mouth
  • skin problems
  • increased sensitivity to sunlight

So far, it’s a little early to tell completely what my side effects are but I have noted that in the past 24 hours I have struggled to wake up in the morning, been thirstier than the day before (dry mouth), I have struggled to get quite a few sentences finished and had some quite vivid, disturbing dreams through the night while I was asleep.

But, positively, I have seen that I have been able to focus and get a good start on one of my university assignments which I have been struggling with for the past few weeks.

I am going to complete my box I have bought (30 tablets) and review if I’m still experiencing these side effects or if they have changed.

Are there any contraindications to taking St Johns Wort?

Yes. In my medicine packet, there’s a leaflet with a long list of medicines you should consider the effects of before beginning to take St Johns Wort:

  • Antidepressants
  • Antipsychotics
  • Sleeping pills and anaesthetics
  • Hormonal contraceptives including emergency contraception
  • Anticoagulants, which are drugs that thin the blood
  • Immunosuppressants
  • Cholesterol and heart disease medications
  • Blood pressure medications
  • Migraine medications
  • Epilepsy medications
  • Cancer treatments
  • HIV and AIDs treatments

I feel safe taking St Johns Wort myself as I am not on any of the listed medications.

Can you get withdrawal symptoms from stopping taking St Johns Wort?

It is important that if and when you decide to stop taking St Johns Wort, you take a similar approach to how you would taper off from antidepressants due to the similarities in the medications.

You should consider slowly reducing your dosage over time, as this can help to reduce any significant withdrawal symptoms.

Withdrawal symptoms can include feeling sick, dizzy and tense, especially if you have gone cold turkey.

My experience taking St Johns Wort

[26/07/2023] – It’s a little too early to note any significant effects from taking St Johns Wort as I have only taken two doses so far (today and yesterday). However, I have noted a few side effects including quite vivid, disturbing dreams and dry mouth. Positively, I have seen an increased focus today and I have been quite productive. I don’t know if it’s because I’m working from home today but my anxiety is low.

[27/07/2023] – Make sure to remember to take all your vitamins and supplements with food! I took my Apple Cider Vinegar gummies, multivitamin, iron supplement, and St Johns Wort tablet on an empty stomach today and got to work feeling really weird. Food! Eat! It’s important.

[28/07/2023] – It was easier to wake up this morning. Still not fantastic, but I feel more awake overall. I ate breakfast and then took my vitamins and supplements. I feel good, I don’t feel too anxious overall considering I have an assignment due today but also I’ve requested an extension and they haven’t got back to me – usually I’d be quite stressed.

[08/08/2023] I stopped taking St Johns Wort for a few days, only really because I fell out of the habit. It was my birthday on the 5th, and I kind of just fell off the wagon from there. However I have been taking it again for the past 2 days and I haven’t seen any side affects from stopping taking it and then getting back onto it. I haven’t felt as exhausted trying to get out of bed as the first time I started taking it. Now I’m going back to work and I’m not having as much continuous annual leave, I hope to remember to take it daily and it be OK.

[09/08/2023] Woke up bright and early today. Motivated to get stuff done, and managed to even get myself out of bed early enough to do my skincare, makeup, hair and eat breakfast and take my vitamins – all while having enough time to get to work early. I think these are doing something?

[31/08/2023] I’ve officially been taking these (barring a few missed days here and there) for about a month. I’ve seen positive changes, I’m more focused, more confident (I made a phone call today, instead of just taking one!) and more comfortable. With good routine taking these my sleeping is better (albeit with some weird dreams) and I’m overall a better person. I have bought a second box which I’ll be starting soon. I will keep checking in to review myself, and how I feel, and reporting back.

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