St. John's wort seems best used temporarily to improve mood, and thus prevent depression-related overeating. The usual dosage is two capsules daily (200 mg to 300 mg) of a capsulized product standardized to 0.3 percent hypericin. Teas and tincture usually don't deliver reliable doses.
It takes about 2 to 4 weeks for the herb to take effect. Unlike many prescription anti-depressants, there are no withdrawal symptoms from discontinuing the use of St. John's wort. Nor is the herb addictive.
Some bad news here for dieters: Unfortunately, one of the side effects of St. John's wort is weight gain which can be quite discouraging. If you're considering St. John's wort to battle emotional overeating, you must weigh the consequences: Can you endure a temporary weight gain while you get your emotions under control, or will the weight gain make you more apt to binge?
St. John's wort can also make your skin more sensitive to light. That means you'll be more likely to get a sunburn if you go outside. If you're fair-skinned and supplementing with St. John's wort, avoid sunlight.
St. John's wort has been used extensively in Germany with no published reports of serious side effects. Observations on 3,250 patients taking the supplement noted that the most common side effects were gastrointestinal symptoms (0.6 percent), allergic reactions (0.5 percent), and fatigue (0.4 percent).
The herb should not be taken in conjunction with other drugs that affect serotonin levels, such as fluoxetine (Prozac) and monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors. If it is taken with these drugs, serious side effects could result, including high blood pressure and a dangerous condition called the serotonin syndrome. This syndrome is marked by sweating, agitation, upset stomach, and jerky muscles. Severe reactions cause seizures, coma, even death.
As with any supplement, do not take St. John's wort if you are pregnant or nursing, or suffer from any disease. Antidepressants such as St. John's wort should be taken under medical supervision. If you suffer from emotional or binge eating, seek counseling to discover the underlying reasons for your behavior.
Occasional splurges are nothing to fret over. But when splurges become habitual binges, you've got cause for alarm. Here are some suggestions for battling binges:
Clear the kitchen cabinets of binge food if you're prone to episodes of emotional overeating.
Purchase single servings of any food you're likely to binge on. That way, you're less likely to eat the whole bag, the whole carton, the whole anything.
Fill up on high-fiber foods. They take up a lot of space in your stomach, so you're less likely to gorge on them.
Exercise regularly to relieve anxiety and depression.
Distract yourself with a nonfood-related activity, like exercising, reading, pursuing a favorite hobby, listening to music, writing letters, surfing the Internet (one of the best distractions yet), or soaking in a hot bath.
Make a list of fifty things to do other than overeat. Keep your list handy.
If driving home from work takes you by your favorite drive thru, find another route.
Do you overeat or over snack in front of the television? If so, make it a rule in your house always to eat in the dining room or kitchen.
If you're vulnerable to over snacking the moment you walk in the door after work, revamp your daily diet so that you're less ravenous. Make sure to eat a healthy snack at midmorning and mid afternoon, and don't skip lunch. Or instead of raiding the fridge after coming home, head to the gym.