26 Oct Testimonial: How St John’s wort helped me with my mood
For me, St John’s wort is like having sunlight in my pocket, just enough to brighten my mood and help me with feelings of anxiety. Here I share my story, in case you’re curious or wondering whether it might help you too.
Disclaimer: this is my personal account of my experience taking St John’s Wort, a traditional herbal medicinal product for use in relieving symptoms of slightly low mood and mild anxiety, exclusively based upon long-standing use as a traditional remedy. The efficacy of the product has not been proven. Anyone struggling to cope with feelings of depression and anxiety should speak to a medical professional.
In the dark days of last winter, I felt my internal world had taken on a certain darkness too. I had less energy, which is natural at that time of year, but there was something else.
Small tasks were harder than they ought to be. Even doing things I normally enjoyed didn’t give me the same pleasure. Generally, I didn’t feel like myself. Something wasn’t right.
I went out for a walk one Sunday, feeling bleak, unable to shake myself out of a low mood. I’d been invited out with friends, but there was the feeling I had developed around that time, that being with people — even people I loved spending time with — was tiring. I felt the need to draw inwards, stay indoors, be alone.
Sometimes being alone with ourselves is necessary — and sometimes it’s the last thing we need. I had started to find myself avoiding social situations when, deep down, I knew that being with people would be good for me. I would worry about saying the wrong thing, or not being good company. I wasn’t sleeping brilliantly either, which didn’t help with my energy or feelings of confidence. Everything felt heavy.
I wasn’t in a desperate place, but I was often in a low mood that I found it hard to break out of. I didn’t have the drive to make myself do any of the things that I knew would help, such as getting up and out of the house; eating the right foods; even properly relaxing. Sometimes I avoided phone calls too because I didn’t want to talk about how I was feeling; I had this idea that it would drag other people down.
Sometimes I felt okay. Sometimes I felt numb. Other times, it was as if the world was going on around and without me, and I was only almost but not quite a part of it.
It felt temporary, the strange place I was in.
Sometimes the feeling was a sort of darkness that hung over me, and the world took on the quality of gunmetal grey.
These periods of sadness came and went. But they bothered me enough that when I came across something that could help, I was open to it.
St John’s wort did help me last winter — and I found that my mood lifted considerably.
How I found St John’s wort
I was walking aimlessly that Sunday when I came across a pharmacy that sold traditional herbal medicines. The pharmacist recommended St John’s wort. I’d heard of it and knew something about it as a traditional way of treating slightly low mood. I knew that it gets its name from the fact it often blooms on St John’s or Midsummer’s Day, and could picture its cheery yellow flowers.
I’d never considered it before because I was on the contraceptive pill. When I was no longer taking the pill, I worried St John’s wort might interfere with my sleep. The pharmacist explained I should simply take it early in the day. She said that, in addition to helping the body relax, St John’s wort also assists with the production of melatonin ‘the sleep hormone’.
She explained that some people experience minor side effects: an upset stomach, a dry mouth, headache, fatigue, dizziness, or sensitivity to sunlight. As with most medications, reactions vary from person to person.
From reading other testimonials online, many people don’t experience any side effects, as was my own experience.
The decision to take St John’s wort, and how it made me feel
In that bright pharmacy on that bleak day in January, I had the sense that St John’s wort might be a good first step. It had a noticeable and almost instant effect on my mood — I felt lighter in days.
I felt more like myself, more capable of navigating daily life, and less anxious. My breathing seemed easier. I was calmer. The dark, dragging feeling had lessened, and I slept better. Overall it gave me a certain clean, bright energy.
Looking back, I imagine the whole of that holistic pharmacy — which was on a corner, and happened to smell of sandalwood — as yellow: the colour of the St John’s wort flowers, no doubt because St John’s wort helped me enjoy the next few months with more optimism. It helped me take steps forward. It gave me hope. I could get out more to really move my body, and I felt more capable of doing the little things that I know help me to feel more whole and grounded. I also felt I could socialise with less anxiety than before — and all of these things, in turn, helped me feel significantly better over time.
The plant set me off on a brighter path. That isn’t to say I didn’t have down days, because I did, and I do. But I remember the day I began taking St John’s wort, the ‘yellow’ pharmacy because it genuinely began the new year afresh. It was a simple step, but perhaps the most important thing was that I had taken control of it in a way that felt doable, and right for me.
What I would say…
Sensitivity differs from person to person. Looking online at testimonials from others, some feel their mood lift in days, some in 3 to 6 weeks.
One reviewer of HRI’s Good Mood tablets writes:
“These have really helped me… Found them effective within 24 hours. Notice my mood drop if I miss a dose. I’m very satisfied and would recommend these, just be aware this is a real medication with powerful effects.” Holland & Barrett customer review
“I bought St John’s wort as I didn’t want to go back on antidepressants… I suffer from anxiety…since being in menopause it happens a lot more… I’ve been on St John’s wort for 5 days… I wasn’t expecting much but… it’s like a miracle drug. I will be buying these again.” Amazon customer review
What else I’ve learnt…
For some people, St John’s wort helps lift mood mildly, and for others, it seems to have more profound effects.
“St John’s wort literally saved my life when I had postnatal depression* and anxiety… Miracle.” Holland & Barrett customer review
“These [tablets] have helped me feel calmer, happier and stable, easing my lifelong anxiety.” Holland & Barrett customer review
How I take St John’s wort
I take St John’s wort in tablet form with lunch. I usually take two of HRI’s Good Mood, which has the strongest daily dose available on the UK market. I like that it gives me the flexibility to take one a day for a gentler dose if preferred.
St. John’s wort should not be used during pregnancy or while breastfeeding or taking the contraceptive pill. There are various other important drug interactions.
*Please read the Patient Information Leaflet before taking this product.