After years of clinical studies in Germany, St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum) is poised to undergo scientific scrutiny in the United States as a treatment for depression. Never clinically tested in this country, the yellow-blossomed, roadside weed, native to much of America's Northwest and to many other parts of the world, is now the focus of four such trials.

Perhaps foremost among them is a $4.3 million study funded by the Office of Alternative Medicine (OAM) in the National Institutes of Health. Enrollment of 336 patients will begin in the spring at 12 centers nationwide. Cosponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health and the Office of Dietary Supplements, the trial arises from growing consumer interest in alternative medicine and a boost in OAM's 1999 budget to $50 million, 2.5 times its 1998 allocation.1

Also, recruitment of 200 subjects is under way in a 10-site, placebo-controlled trial...

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