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From inflammation to depression – St Johns wort as a therapeutic approach
An increasing number of clinical and preclinical data shows that inflammatory processes may be involved in the etiology of depression [1, 2]. At least in some depressed patients inflammation markers are enhanced. An IFN-α-induced rise of TNF-α and IL-6 may induce depressive symptoms . Psychic stress is not only a trigger of depressive symptoms, but also of a lower antioxidative capacity, similar to that in inflammatory diseases.
As many herbal extracts have anti-inflammatory actions, the question is, whether these are also involved into the antidepressive action of St Johns wort . It was addressed by a systematic data base search.
St Johns wort extracts and their components have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative actions in vitro [5,6], in vivo [2,7] and, in dermatology, also clinically . In a model of a stress induced depression, St Johns wort also normalized the lowered antioxidative capacity  and influenced gene expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines .
As St Johns wort extracts have anti-inflammatory properties, it is plausible that these are involved also in the therapeutic use in depression, and have possibly been underestimated up to now.
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