Pharmacopsychiatry 1998; 31: 54-59
DOI: 10.1055/s-2007-979346
Original Paper

© Georg Thieme Verlag Stuttgart · New York

St. John's Wort in Mild to Moderate Depression: The Relevance of Hyperforin for the Clinical Efficacy

G. Laakmann1 , C. Schüle1 , T. Baghai1 , M. Kieser2
  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Munich, Munich, Germany
  • 2Dr. Willmar Schwabe GmbH & Co., Karlsruhe, Germany
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
20 April 2007 (online)


In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicenter study, the clinical efficacy and safety of two different extracts of St. John's wort were investigated in 147 male and female outpatients suffering from mild or moderate depression according to DSM-IV criteria. Following a placebo run-in period of three to seven days, the patients were randomized to one of three treatment groups: During the 42-day treatment period, they received 3x1 tablets of either placebo, Hypericum extract WS 5573 (300 mg, with a content of 0.5 % hyperforin), or Hypericum extract WS 5572 (300 mg, with a content of 5 % hyperforin). The manufacturing process for the two Hypericum preparations was identical, so that they differed only in their hyperforin content. Efficacy regarding depressive symptoms was assessed on days 0, 7,14, 28, and 42, using the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAMD, 17-item version) and the Depression Self-Rating Scale (D-S) according to von Zerssen. In addition, the severity of illness was also rated by the investigators on days 0 and 42 using the Clinical Global Impression (CGI) scale. The last observation of patients withdrawn from the trial prematurely was carried forward. At the end of the treatment period (day 42), the patients receiving WS 5572 (5 % hyperforin) exhibited the largest HAMD reduction versus day 0 (10.3 ±4.6 points; mean + SD), followed by the WS 5573 group (0.5 % hyperforin; HAMD reduction 8.5 ±6.1 points) and the placebo group (7.9 ±5.2 points). As regards the change in the HAMD total score between day 0 and treatment end and its relationship to the hyperforin dose, a significant monotonic trend was demonstrated in the Jonckheere-Terpstra test (p = 0.017). In pairwise comparisons, WS 5572 (5 % hyperforin) was superior to placebo in alleviating depressive symptoms according to HAMD reduction (Mann-Whitney U-test: p = 0.004), whereas the clinical effects of WS 5573 (0.5 % hyperforin) and placebo were descriptively comparable. These results show that the therapeutic effect of St. John's Wort in mild to moderate depression depends on its hyperforin content.