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St John's Wort users reported: a history of exposure to herbal remedies and belief in their safety; depressed mood; and ease of access to alternative medicines

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QUESTION: Why do people choose to self medicate with St John's Wort (SJW) instead of seeking conventional health care for symptoms of depression?


Qualitative design using open ended interviews to elicit information.


A city in southern Georgia, USA.


22 participants (mean age 45 y, 96% women) who were currently taking SJW for depression or had done so within the previous year were recruited through advertisements. 2 participants were excluded because of faulty session recordings.


2 initial open ended questions led participants to reflect on their decision making process, mood, and situation at the time of first use of SJW. Each open ended question was followed by a series of probes used to address specific topics if not already mentioned. Key factual questions about other treatments, seeking primary care physician …

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