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The Recommended Dosage of Hypericum
The optimum dosage of hypericum, based on the majority of medical studies, is 300 mg of hypericum extract three times a day. This 300 mg dosage fits comfortably into a single tablet or capsule.

One might, for example, take the first 300 mg on arising, the second 300 mg three hours later, and the final 300 mg three hours after that. Some find that taking two 300 mg doses at breakfast and a third at lunch works best. For those who find hypericum is an aid to restful sleep, the doses can be spread throughout the day, saving the final dose for dinner or bedtime.

Because hypericum is tolerated so well by the body, experimentation with dosage and timing has far fewer risks than experimentation with most prescription medications.

As the side effects of hypericum are few even in significantly higher doses, one can, for example, take four 250 mg capsules daily if only 250 mg capsules are available.

Small children should take a total of 300 mg of hypericum daily, while larger children should take 600 mg per day. For adolescents, the full adult dose is recommended.

Hypericum's effectiveness in treating depression should not be evaluated until at least six weeks of a 900 mg daily antidepressant dose. As with prescription antidepressants, the effect of hypericum takes place gradually. Studies generally indicate that hypericum takes longer to reach full effectiveness than do prescription antidepressants.

One should not be too anxious for an immediate "cure," as one might expect from aspirin or a decongestant. The best course is to be watchful for possible side effects, take hypericum "as directed," and make an objective evaluation of benefits six weeks after starting.

It is important to give hypericum a chance. To decide after one or two weeks, "This isn't working for me," and discontinue treatment is ill advised.

Certainly if side effects occur, you should consult your healthcare provider. Often the side effects of hypericum -- especially milder side effectsdisappear on their own as the body becomes accustomed to the hypericum. Sometimes a slight reduction of the dosage is called for while the body adjusts.

If the symptoms are severe, stop taking hypericum at once and contact your healthcare professional. All symptoms should fade entirely within a few days after you stop.

If the side effects of depression become worse or you are having suicidal impulses, please see your doctor immediately.

After six weeks, one might decide to take slightly more or slightly less hypericum, depending on the results. Hypericum is not a "more is better" herb. The goal is alleviating the symptoms of depression. For most people, this is accomplished with three 300 mg doses per day.

If a satisfactory effect is not achieved in six weeks, one should consult with a physician and discuss taking a prescription antidepressant instead. Like hypericum, prescription antidepressants are not "uppers," stimulants, or addictive.

Depression must be treated. Even with their greater cost and higher side-effect profile, if prescription antidepressants are necessary to successfully treat a depression, they should be taken.

There are many prescription antidepressants to choose from. If one is not successful in treating depression, or if the side effects are severe, there are several others from which to choose. Please work with your doctor to find the prescription antidepressant that is right for you.

Copyright © 1996 by Harold H. Bloomfield, M.D. and Peter McWilliams