British Medical Journal 1999 (Dec 11); 319 (7224): 1534–1538
Philipp M, Kohnen R, Hiller KO
D-84034 Landshut, Germany
OBJECTIVES: To assess the efficacy and safety of hypericum extract (STEI 300, Steiner Arzneimittel, Berlin) compared with imipramine and placebo in patients in primary care with a current episode of moderate depression.
DESIGN: Randomised, double blind, multicentre, parallel group trial for 8 weeks.
SETTING: Trained panel of 18 general practitioners from four German states: Bavaria, Berlin, Rhineland Palatinate, and Saxony.
PARTICIPANTS: 263 patients (66 men, 197 women) with moderate depression according to ICD-10 (international classification of diseases, 10th revision) codes F32. 1 and F33.1. INTERVENTIONS: 1050 mg hypericum extract (350 mg three times daily), 100 mg imipramine (50 mg, 25 mg, and 25 mg daily), or placebo three times daily.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Change from baseline score on the 17 item version of the Hamilton depression scale, the Hamilton anxiety scale, the clinical global impressions scale, Zung's self rating depression scale, and SF-36, and adverse events profile.
RESULTS: Hypericum extract was more effective at reducing Hamilton depression scores than placebo and as effective as imipramine (mean -15.4 (SD 8.1), -12.1 (7.4), and -14.2 (7.3) respectively). Comparable results were found for Hamilton anxiety and clinical global impressions scales and were most pronounced for the Zung self rating depression scale. Quality of life was more improved in the standardised mental component scale of the SF-36 with both active treatments than with placebo but in the physical component scale was improved only by hypericum extract compared with placebo. The rate of adverse events with hypericum extract was in the range of the placebo group but lower than that of the imipramine group (0.5, 0.6, and 1.2 events per patient respectively).
CONCLUSION: At an average dose of 350 mg three times daily hypericum extract was more effective than placebo and at least as effective as 100 mg imipramine daily in the treatment of moderate depression. Treatment with hypericum extract is safe and improves quality of life.