Question: Are herbal compounds (such as St. John's Wort) effective treatments for pediatric depression?
Answer: Like a lot of things in child psychiatry, the studies haven't been done yet about compounds like St. John's Wort and other natural compounds.
Looking at the literature, there are some published studies of using St. John's Wort in children, but these were not controlled studies, there was no placebo control, it wasn't done in a double-blind fashion which are methods we need to really establish whether a treatment is effective or not.
But the studies that do exist and the clinical experience that I've heard about suggest that St. John's Wort is just as effective for kids as it is for adults. And what I mean by that is it only works probably in mild to moderate depression. If someone has severe depression, St. John's Wort and other natural compounds should not be your primary treatment. It should really be medications and other conventional treatments.
We tend to use substances like St. John's Wort as adjuncts or additives to conventional treatments to make them work better.