Also known as
Hypericum perforatum, Perforated bush, Hypericum, and Klamath weed.
Originally native to Europe, North Africa, and Western Asia,
St. John's wort is a perennial plant with bright yellow star-shaped
flowers are now readily found throughout North America, growing wild in
neglected fields and along roadsides. St. John's wort rose from virtual
obscurity in the U.S. to become the fifth best selling dietary
supplement in mainstream retail stores. Its rise to fame came after the
national media reported clinical research showing that it was safe and
effective for treating mild to moderate depression, and the Greek
physician Hippocrates (ca. 460-377 B.C.E.) was one of the first to speak
of the health benefits of St. Johns Wort, and it as been used to treat
anxiety, neurosis, and depression since the time of Paracelsus (ca.
1493-1541 C.E.), when it was declared to be "arnica for the nerves." In
addition to its value as a psychiatric treatment, Some of the original
folklore uses of this versatile plant were in treating bedwetting,
rheumatism, and gout. A St. John's wort oil made with the blossoms and
olive, sunflower, or, preferably, wheat germ oil has been used for
centuries for treating wounds and burns.
Hypericin and related compounds, rutin, bitters, and tannins.
The dried flowering tops and leaf.
Traditionally used as a tea, sometimes available in tea bags;
also used to make a red St. John's oil for use in liniments and lotions,
but only from fresh material. May also be administered as a capsule or
extract for convenience.
A cool, bitter herb, St. John's wort is sedative,
anti-inflammatory, astringent, and most famously as an anti-depressant. A
large volume of scientific research suggests that only a standardized
extract delivering a rather high dose of hypericin, one of the active
constituents found in St. John's wort can effectively fight depression,
so how can the successful use of the much milder traditional teas be
explained? St. John's wort as a whole herb (which includes
phytochemicals such as hyperforin that have yet to be extensively
researched) gives the body "just enough medicine" to overcome the
physical aches and pains and mild viral infections that keep the brain
from recovering from depression. Current research is also looking into
St. John's wort as a treatment for SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).
St. John's wort extracts may increase sensitivity to sunlight
and risk of sunburn, but this is extremely rare when the whole herb is
used. Not to be used with a MAO or Protease inhibitor.
For educational purposes only This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
This information is
not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.