For centuries, this particular herb has been used to treat nerve pain and mental disorders. Long ago, herbalists used it as a sedative and a topic treatment for burns and wounds. Now, it is famously used to help treat depression, as well as anxiety and sleep disorders. While the evidence is mixed (as usual), the herb offers possibilities for those with mild-to-moderate depression.
We’re talking here of St. John’s wort. In the spectrum of herbal medicine, it is one of the most commonly taken supplements. While it’s been found promising for several conditions, how it works in the human body remains unclear. It remains a subject for investigation.
And speaking of investigation, a new study tried to see if St. John’s wort had any good potential for helping smokers kick the habit.
To that end, researchers conducted a randomized, placebo-controlled study with 118 participants. They were randomly assigned to take 300 mg or 600 mg of St. John’s wort, or placebo. They took the supplement three times a day, and researchers provided some behavioral intervention for 12 weeks. The participants reported whether they abstained from smoking or not, and the researchers confirmed it by measuring air carbon monoxide.
The average age of the participant was 37 years old, and they had smoked an average of 20 cigarettes a day for the past 20 years. Obviously, these are significant, chronic smokers. Nearly half the participants dropped out, a large number.
Those who remained showed this result: no significant differences were observed at 12 or 24 weeks between placebo takers and those on St. John’s wort. The herbal remedy also did not help reduce withdrawal symptoms among those trying to abstain from cigarettes. There was no change in abstinence rates between the herbal and placebo groups. No significant side effects were noted with St. John’s wort, either.
On all accounts, it seems this is not the herbal agent you want to help you with smoking cessation. This study finding, in combination with data from other studies, suggests that St. John’s wort does not have much of a role in the treatment of tobacco dependence.
Sometimes it’s good to know what isn’t effective, as it narrows the path toward the remedies that are.