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St. John’s Wort False Labeling Investigation

St. John’s wort is known as a medicinal herb that can relieve depression. The National Institutes of Health’s website says a group of 29 studies showed that it may be “as effective as standard prescription antidepressants for major depression of mild to moderate severity” and that it “also appeared to have fewer side effects than standard antidepressants.”

The active ingredient in this plant is hypericin, and studies have shown that a dose of .9 mg per day is beneficial.

All of the following brands labeled their St. John’s wort supplements as containing .9 mg of hypericin:

  • Nature’s Bounty
  • Nature’s Origin
  • Sundown Naturals
  • Vitamin World
  • Puritan’s Pride

However, independent lab tests showed that they contained much less, from as little as .166 mg to .615 mg.

Why is the actual hypericin content lower? We’re not sure. It might be that some brands use a high proportion of the plant stem, while the most potent parts are the blossoms and secondarily the leaves. It might be that the harvesting and drying of the plants has not been done correctly. One source claims that the “quantity and quality of active principles in Hypericin species vary according to geographical locale, climate, time of day, and time of year.” Or it might be the age of the ingredients or inadequate storage conditions for the finished supplement.

What’s not in question is that when a St. John’s wort product contains less of the active ingredient than it claims, people who use it for depression are not getting the help that they need, and they have no way of knowing that false labeling may be at fault.

Our attorneys are currently investigating whether a class action suit can be brought on behalf of people who have used the above brands of St. John’s wort supplements. Class action suits can help consumers get back the money they have spent on false claims, and they can warn other companies to make sure that they deliver what they promise.

If you have used one of the above brands of St. John’s wort, please fill out the form on this page. We’re interested in knowing about your experience.

Article Type: Investigation
Topic: Consumer
No case events.
Tags: Contents Have Less of Active Ingredient Than Label Claims, Deceptive Advertising, Deceptive Labels