Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Will the Real St. John Please Stand Up?

Circumstances have led me to take three different brands of St. John’s Wort products – see below. If faulty memory serves this is the order of things. When I was blogging about notable increases in mood I was on Nature Made. When I ran out of that I went to the store and picked up the only thing I could find with SJW in it, the Nature’s Way product. I have no remarkable memory of the time during which I was taking this but I do know that it was during a few months that were especially stressful for other reasons. Now I’m on the store brand and generally maintaining. The sting of my lows is blunted a little bit and since it seems most like the Nature Made product I suppose this is the best that I’ll get from SJW. I’m tempted to pull receipts and actually compare the timeline to what I’ve reported here.

It’s frustrating that there is no regulation of herbal supplements here in the US – or at least that’s how I understand it. Having little basis for this conclusion I nevertheless assume that stems carry far less of whatever in SJW is effective than the leaves. But there is no requirement that products claiming to contain X amount of SJW carry the good bits or the bad bits.

I think that I’ll order the Nature Made again and see if I notice the change I did the first time I took it. But it appears that I’ve taken SJW about as far as it will go. I should try walking again

Nature Made – St. John’s Wort 75 Capsules
Supplement Facts
Serving Size 2 Capsules
Servings Per Container 37
Amount Per Serving
St. John’s Wort Aerial Parts Extract (Hypericum Perforatum) 300mg
Hypericin (by UV) 0.9 mg
Other Ingredients
Cellulose Gel, Gelatin (non-bovine), Maltodextrin, Stearic Acid, Magenissium Stearate, Tribasic Calcium, Phosphate, Water

Nature’s Way – Mood Aid with 5-HTP & St. John’s Wort
Supplement Facts
Serving Size 1 Capsule
Servings Per Container 60
Amount Per Serving
Thiamin (as Thiamin HCI) 250 mcg
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) 284 mcg
Niacin ( as Niacinamide) 3.33 mcg
Vitamin B6 (as Pyridoxine HCI) 330 mcg
Vitamin B12 (as Cyanocobalamin)1 mcg
St. John’s Wort extract (stem, leaf, flower)
0.3% dianthrones measured as hypercin 300 mg
Skullcap (stem, leaf, fruit) 100 mg
Korean Ginseng extract (root) 33 mg
L-5-Hydroxytryptophan 3 mg
Other Ingrediants: Gelatin (capsule), Millet, Magnesium Stearate

Store Brand – Natural St. John’s Wort
Supplement Facts
Serving Size 1 Caplet
Amount Per Caplet
St. John’s Wort (hypericum perforatum) (aerial parts) Standardized extract (0.3% hypericin) 300 mg
Other Ingredients
Dicalcium Phosphate, Maltodextrin, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Croscarmellose Sodium, Tricalcium Phosphate, Stearic Acid, Magnesium Stearate, Hypromellose, Hydroxypropyl Cellulose, Polyethylene Glycol

Monday, May 12, 2008


Press release emailed to me:
Comprehensive Look at Depressive Disorders Focuses on Individual Experiences – Including a CEO, a Successful Entrepreneur, a Gang Member and a Journalist – Along with Leading Medical Experts
Documentary to Promote Dialogue on Depression Through Public Awareness Campaign in Partnership with the National Alliance on Mental Illness and YMCA of the USA
Jane Pauley to Host Post-Broadcast Panel Discussion

January 2008 (St. Paul, MN) - Twin Cities Public Television (TPT) and WGBH Boston announced today the broadcast of DEPRESSION: Out of the Shadows, a 90-minute documentary about clinical depression that will air nationally on public television stations on May 21 (check local listings). Written, produced and directed by Larkin McPhee and produced by TPT and WGBH, DEPRESSION: Out of the Shadows tells the dramatic stories of people of different ages, from diverse backgrounds, who live with various forms of depression - and explores the causes and treatments.

“Depression is one of the most debilitating illnesses on earth, and yet people are ashamed to talk about it,” says McPhee. “This is a medical illness that can devastate lives, ruin relationships and keep people from achieving their dreams. My greatest hope is that people watching DEPRESSION: Out of the Shadows will be able to better recognize the signs and symptoms of this elusive illness and seek help. This is a highly treatable disorder.”

Among the personal profiles in DEPRESSION: Out of the Shadows are novelist and journalist Andrew Solomon, whose mother’s death contributed to his depression and left him unable to work or take care of himself; Ellie Zuehlke, whose bout with post-partum depression after the birth of her first child led her to thoughts of suicide; Terrie M. Williams, a successful public relations executive and social worker who found herself sobbing for hours on end and did not realize she was suffering from depression; Philip Burguieres, once the youngest CEO of a Fortune 500 company, who resigned unexpectedly from his position after collapsing from untreated depression; Hart Lipton, a teenager who suddenly became depressed when he was in the sixth grade, and after four years of struggling with the illness was eventually diagnosed with a bipolar disorder; and DaShaun “Jiwe” Morris, a member of the Bloods gang who became depressed and suicidal after years of neglect, violence and crime. He is the author of an upcoming book about his experience called War of the Bloods in My Veins.

Williams, who is African-American and the author of a new book about her experience and that of others, Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We’re Not Hurting, said, “As reluctant as those in the general public may be to discussing depression openly, in the African-American community, it is much worse. The high rates of poverty and unemployment that disproportionately affect our community contribute to and compound depression. This is a lapse that must be addressed.”

The film also features several of the nation’s leading mental health experts who explain current theories behind the causes of depression, and pharmaceutical and counseling treatments that have proved successful. These include Dr. Helen Mayberg, who discusses her groundbreaking research into the use of deep brain stimulation therapies to treat depression; Dr. Carlos Zarate, who has conducted promising research with a drug called ketamine; and Dr. Charles Nemeroff, who explains how depression is rooted in both genetic and environmental factors.

Following the broadcast of DEPRESSION: Out of the Shadows, veteran journalist Jane Pauley, who wrote about having a bi-polar disorder in her autobiography Skywriting: Out of the Blue, will host a nationally televised panel discussion with mental health experts to discuss the issues raised in the film.

"In an era of breathtaking advances in understanding the human brain, one of the most important developments is taking place outside the laboratory and it has far-reaching implications: mental illness is becoming part of the national dialogue. DEPRESSION: Out of the Shadows is a timely and important contribution to the conversation and I'm delighted to have a role in it,” said Pauley.

In order to create a more open dialogue about depression, and reduce the social stigma that prevents many people from seeking professional help, TPT, under the PBS initiative, TAKE ONE STEP: A PUBLIC HEALTH CAMPAIGN, has secured two national partners, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and YMCA of the USA, to participate in a major public outreach initiative. This will include screenings and panel discussions in major cities and on college campuses, a multi-media Web site that will provide a vast array of research material and resources on depression, and summits organized by local PBS stations across the country that will encourage mental health providers to strategize with public and private institutions.

“We’re very pleased to have the support and resources of NAMI and the YMCA, so that we can provide as many people as possible with current information on depressive disorders,” said Phylis Geller, executive producer of DEPRESSION: Out of the Shadows for TPT.

Laurie Donnelly, executive producer of DEPRESSION: Out of the Shadows for WGBH said, “The film is a starting point for conversation and thought, but it’s critical that people who see the film know how to take the next step in seeking the proper care.”

DEPRESSION: Out of the Shadows is a production of Twin Cities Public Television (TPT) and WGBH Boston. Producer/Writer/Director: Larkin McPhee. Executive Producers: Laurie Donnelly, WGBH; Phylis Geller, TPT. Senior Producer, WGBH: Anne Adams. Major funding for the program and Take One Step: A PBS HEALTH CAMPAIGN is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Public Television Viewers and PBS. Additional support for DEPRESSION: Out of the Shadows provided by The Ritter Foundation Inc. and Mental Insight Foundation.

About TPT
The mission of Twin Cities Public Television is to “harness the power of television and other media for the public good.” A not-for-profit educational, civic, and cultural resource, TPT presents original productions for national and state broadcast. Productions include the DragonflyTV science series for kids; Emmy Award-winning programs include Benjamin Franklin; The Forgetting: A Portrait of Alzheimer’s; and Suze Orman: The Laws of Money, The Lessons of Life. One of the most watched PBS affiliates in the nation, TPT is based in St. Paul and operates six digital stations in addition to analog channels tpt2 and tpt17. The organization is also an active member of the community, bringing outreach and literacy programs to local schools and community groups.

About WGBH

WGBH Boston is America's preeminent public broadcasting producer, the source of one-third of PBS's primetime lineup and companion online content as well as many public radio favorites. WGBH is a pioneer in educational multimedia (including the Web, broadband, and interactive television) and in technologies and services that make media accessible for people with disabilities. WGBH has been recognized with hundreds of honors: Emmys, Peabodys, DuPont-Columbia Awards-even two Oscars. In 2002, WGBH was honored with a special institutional Peabody Award for fifty years of excellence. For more information, visit