St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) is a plant that has been traditionally used in Europe to treat depression, with research demonstrating that it can act like a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). As SSRIs are used to treat OCD, could St. John’s wort have similar effects in reducing symptoms?
This study by Dr. van Houten Taylor and her team tested a fixed dose of 450mg of 0.3% hypericin (the psychoactive compound in St. John’s wort) on 12 individuals with OCD, who received a dose twice a day over the course of 12 weeks. The results demonstrated that significant change happened following the first week, and that 5 participants greatly improved on their symptom assessments. 6 participants were minimally improved, and one saw no change (Taylor and Kobak, 2000). Although these results were promising, the study led to further research into the efficacy of St. John’s wort for treating OCD, which demonstrated that it was not effective (Kobak et al., 2005).
Kobak, K.A., Taylor, L.V.H., Bystritsky, A., Kohlenberg, C.J., Greist, J.H., Tucker, P., Warner, G., Futterer, R., & Vapnik, T. (2005). St. John’s wort versus placebo in obsessive-compulsive disorder: Results from a double-blind study. International Clinical Psychopharmacology, 20(6), 299-304.
Taylor, L.H. & Kobak, K.A. (2000). An open-label trial of St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) in obsessive-compulsive disorder. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 61(8), 575-578.