An open-label pilot study of St. John's wort in juvenile depression

Robert L. Findling, Nora K. McNamara, Mary Ann O'Riordan, Michael D. Reed, Christine A. Demeter, Lisa A. Branicky, Jeffrey L. Blumer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Objective: This pilot study examined the effectiveness, safety, tolerability, and pharmacodynamics of Hypericum perforatum (St. John's wort) in the treatment of youths diagnosed with major depressive disorder. Method: Youths 6 to 16 years of age meeting DSM-IV criteria for major depressive disorder with depressive symptoms of at least moderate severity were eligible to enroll between January 1999 and January 2001 in this 8-week, prospective, open-label, outpatient study. Outcome measures included the Children's Depression Rating Scale-Revised (CDRS-R) and the Clinical Global Impressions (CGI) scale. A priori criteria for response consisted of a CDRS-R score of ≤28 and a CGI severity score ≤2. Patients were initially prescribed 150 mg St. John's wort three times daily. If at the end of week 4 the patient did not meet a priori response criteria, the dose was increased to 300 mg three times daily. Results: Thirty-three youths with a mean (SD) age of 10.5 (2.9) years were enrolled. After 4 weeks of St. John's wort therapy, 22 youths had their dose increased to 900 mg/day. Twenty-five of the patients met response criteria after 8 weeks of treatment. Overall, St. John's wort was well tolerated. Conclusion: St. John's wort may be an effective treatment for youths diagnosed with major depressive disorder. Placebo controlled trials seem indicated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)908-914
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Depression
  • Hypericum perforatum
  • St. John's wort

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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