St. John's Wort Versus Placebo in Social Phobia

The safety and scientific validity of this study is the responsibility of the study sponsor and investigators. Listing a study does not mean it has been evaluated by the U.S. Federal Government. Read our disclaimer for details. Identifier: NCT00035412
Recruitment Status : Completed
First Posted : May 6, 2002
Last Update Posted : August 18, 2006
Information provided by:
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)

May 3, 2002
May 6, 2002
August 18, 2006
December 2001
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Complete list of historical versions of study NCT00035412 on Archive Site
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St. John's Wort Versus Placebo in Social Phobia
St. John's Wort Versus Placebo in Social Phobia
The purpose of this study is to determine the effectiveness of St. John’s Wort as compared to placebo (an inactive substance) in the treatment of outpatients with social phobia.

Social Phobia is a prevalent and debilitating condition, with a lifetime prevalence rate to be 13.3 percent. Socially phobic patients have been found to be functionally impaired in the areas of education, employment and social relationships, to have poorer quality of life, and increased suicidal ideation and psychiatric comorbidity. Double-blind studies have found benzodiazepines, selective and non-selective MAOI inhibitors, several SSRIs, and the anticonvulsants pregabalin and gabapentin to be effective. However, side effects with these compounds suggests the need for better tolerated compounds, e.g., in the paroxetine multi-center trial (the only drug with an FDA approved indication), 27 percent reported somnolence, 26 percent nausea, and 37 percent of males reported delayed ejaculation; 34 percent of patients discontinued the trial early. There has been considerable worldwide interest in St. John's Wort (SJW) (Hypericum perforatum) as a treatment of mild to moderate depression. There have been 23 randomized trials suggesting SJW is more effective than placebo for the treatment of outpatients with mild to moderate depression. SJW is very well tolerated with mild side effects observed in only 2.5 percent of cases in a large (3250 patients) drug monitoring study. Pharmacokinetic studies have found Hypericum to have affinity for serotonin, dopamine and GABA alpha and GABA beta receptors, each of which have been implicated in social phobia, thus there is a suggestion that SJW may be effective for this disorder.

This will be a 12-week, double blind, placebo-controlled trial, designed to generate effect size data that will be used to determine sample size needed to power a definitive study. Forty patients will be randomized to either SJW (LI 160) or matching placebo. This will be a flexible-dose design, starting at 300 mg tid to a maximum of 1800 mg total per day. An intent-to-treat analysis will be employed. Subjects will be evaluated weekly for two weeks, then bi-weekly thereafter. The primary outcome measure will be the change from baseline to endpoint on the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale.

Phase 2
Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Masking: Double
Primary Purpose: Treatment
Phobic Disorders
Drug: St. John’s Wort
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*   Includes publications given by the data provider as well as publications identified by Identifier (NCT Number) in Medline.
Same as current
August 2004
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Inclusion Criteria:

  • Female patients: at least 2 years post-menopausal, surgically sterile, or practicing a medically acceptable method of contraception.
  • Meets DSM-IV criteria for Social Phobia, generalized subtype, lasting 12 months in duration (phone screening will determine)

Exclusion Criteria:

  • Primary diagnosis of major depression, dysthymia, panic disorder, schizophrenia, schizo-affective disorder, bipolar disorder, or PTSD
  • Substance abuse or dependence in the past 6 months
  • Vascular dementia or primary degenerative dementia of the Alzheimer’s type
  • Treatment with MAOIs, TCAs, SSRIs, venlafaxine, nefazodone, remeron, citalopram, or bupropion within 14 days of first visit.
  • Fluoxetine within 14 days of first visit.
  • Failure to respond to at least two adequate antidepressant trials for social anxiety.
  • Investigational drugs within 30 days of baseline
  • Known allergy or hypersensitivity to St. John’s Wort
  • Currently in behavior therapy for Social Phobia


Sexes Eligible for Study: All
18 Years to 65 Years   (Adult)
Contact information is only displayed when the study is recruiting subjects
United States
R21AT000502-01A1( U.S. NIH Grant/Contract )
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National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)
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Principal Investigator: Kenneth Kobak, PhD Dean Foundation for Health, Research and Analysis
Principal Investigator: Leslie Taylor, MD Dean Foundation for Health, Research and Analysis
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)
July 2006

ICMJE     Data element required by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors and the World Health Organization ICTRP