Perhaps the most well-known effect of St. John’s wort is its anti-depressant nature. It has been widely used to relieve symptoms of depression for generations and is now a popular natural solution that doctors and psychiatrists often prescribe to their patients. It contains a rare combination of antidepressant chemicals that inhibit or delay the reuptake of certain neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine.
Many studies show that St. John’s wort may help fight mild to moderate depression and anxiety and has fewer side effects than most other prescription antidepressants, such as loss of sex drive. However, it does interact with a number of medications, so it should be taken only under the guidance of a health care provider, especially if you already take medications for depression.
The health benefits of St.John’s wort extend beyond depression, as they help people suffering from anxiety and mood swings as well. By helping to regulate the hormonal balance in the body, St. John’s wort is able to get the metabolism and internal clock back in line, providing help for sleeplessness, irritability, and chronic fatigue. Eliminating chronic stress hormones from the body can also improve overall health and cognitive function, as excess stress hormones can affect various organs.
There are two distinct periods of feminine sexual health that can be challenging in terms of mood swings: pre-menstrual syndrome and menopause. St. John’s wort is widely recommended for women in both these periods, as its chemical constituents have been shown to reduce mood swings and anxiety in menopausal women. Moreover, they reduce the severity of cramping and pre-menstrual irritation and depression.
A 2010 study by S Canning and N Orsi et al at the Institute of Psychological Sciences, University of Leeds, looked at the efficacy of St John’s Wort for the treatment of PMS. The results of this randomised, double blind, placebo controlled trial found that: “St John’s Wort was statistically more beneficial than the placebo for food cravings, swelling, poor co-ordination, insomnia, confusion, headaches, crying and fatigue”.
Early indications show that the use of St. John’s wort can be very helpful in easing cravings and withdrawal symptoms after quitting cigarettes, alcohol or other addictive substances. This could prove very useful, as recovery from addiction is challenging.
As we already know about the antidepressant effects of St. John’s wort, the active ingredients also have strong effects on hormone regulation in the body. Hypothyroidism is one of the most common thyroid disorders and this herb has been shown to reduce its symptoms and help the thyroid gland release normal levels of hormones again.
St. John’s wort has antibacterial properties and may also help fight inflammation that’s at the root of most diseases. When applied topically, it relieves symptoms associated with minor wounds and skin irritations, working as a natural treatment for eczema, a home remedy for burn relief and a way to naturally treat hemorrhoids.
The soothing nature of St. John’s wort and the rich concentration of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds make it perfect for easing the pain of arthritis, gout, joint discomfort, and muscle ache. Just as it helps to ease inflammation on the skin and in the gut, St. John’s wort also lowers inflammation in the cardiovascular system, thereby helping lower blood pressure and decrease stress on the heart.
This type of depression that only occurs in the winter due to lack of sunlight, has also been found to respond favourably to St John’s Wort. Whilst one of the most effective treatments for SAD is to spend time every day in full spectrum light, research has found that using this herb in combination with phototherapy works even better. Whilst one of the side effects of this plant can be increased photosensitivity, lightbox therapy can be safely combined with St John's Wort because lightboxes do not produce ultraviolet light.
Recent research has found that SSRI’s are effective against OCD, leading researchers to speculate about the potential of St John’s Wort as a natural alternative. A small clinical study was done where 13 people with OCD received St John’s Wort, twice daily, for 12 weeks. At the end of the study, clinicians rated 42% of the participants as “much” or “very much improved”, 50% as “minimally improved” and 8% (one person), as “unchanged”. It was concluded that at the very least, St John’s Wort warrants further study as a treatment for this debilitating condition.
During pregnancy, hemorrhoids and other stretched out areas of the body can become very painful. Although it is not recommended to take oral supplements throughout the pregnancy, topical application of St. John’s wort salves and paste are highly recommended for women suffering from these pregnancy-related conditions.
St. John’s wort, also known as hypericum perforatum, is a flowering plant of the genus Hypericum and has been used as a medicinal herb for its antidepressant and anti-inflammatory properties for over 2,000 years. The Greek physicians of the first century recommended the use of St. John’s wort for its medicinal value, and the ancients believed that the plant had mystical and protective qualities.
St. John’s wort uses, dating back to the ancient Greeks, included treatment for illnesses such as various nervous or mood disorders. Scientists believe it’s native to Europe, parts of Asia and Africa, and the Western United States. St. John’s wort was given its name because it blooms around June 24, the birthday of John the Baptist, and the word “wort” is an old English word for plant.
St. John’s wort is most commonly used to naturally remedy depression and symptoms, such as anxiety, tiredness, loss of appetite and trouble sleeping. It’s also used to treat heart palpitations, moodiness, the symptoms of attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and symptoms of menopause.
Common Names: ypericum, Klamath, goatweed, amber, amber touch-and-heal, barbe de Saint-Jean, chasse-diable, demon chaser, fuga daemonum.
Side effects can be experienced, such as fatigue, stomach upsets, headaches. Not to be taken together with the contraceptive pill, anti-epilepsy treatments, 5-htp, and a number of other medications including anti-depressants. St John's wort should not be combined with a MAO inhibitor antidepressant such as Nardil (phenelzine) or Parnate (tranylcypromine). This combination can produce a dangerous rise in blood pressure or hypertensive crisis, along with severe anxiety, fever, muscle tension, and confusion. After stopping a MAO inhibitor, one should wait at least four weeks before taking other antidepressants, including Hypericum. If you are taking any medication consult your doctor before starting St John's Wort.
It should not be taken together with foods that contain tyramine i.e. cheese, red wine, preserved meats and yeast extracts. This is due to a MAO inhibition effect. There are some recent reports that suggest that St. John's Wort may interfere with medications given during organ transplant (such as kidney and liver.) Do not take this herb if you have undergone or plan to undergo a transplant operation.
Do not use St. John's Wort during pregnancy or lactation.
St. John's Wort can make the skin more light sensitive. Persons with fair skin should avoid exposure to strong sunlight and other sources of ultraviolet light, such as tanning beds. These individuals may suffer severe burning and possibly blistering of the skin. The severity of these effects will depend on the amount of the plant consumed and the length of exposure to sunlight. Some experts suggest that all individuals avoid sunlight when using St John's wort, especially when taking large quantities.
St John's wort has a good safety record over centuries of folk medicine. In contrast to synthetic antidepressants, there have been no reports of Hypericum related deaths. Drug monitoring studies on over 7000 patients and twenty-seven double-blind research studies confirm its safety. The extensive use of Hypericum by millions of people has not resulted in reports of serious side effects.
FDA Disclaimer: These statements and products have not been evaluated by the FDA. They are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or condition. If you have a health concern or condition, consult a physician. Always consult a medical doctor before modifying your diet, using any new product, drug, supplement, or doing any new exercises.
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