|St. John’s Wort Quick Facts|
|Name:||St. John’s Wort|
|Scientific Name:||Hypericum perforatum|
|Origin||Europe but is commonly found in the United States and Canada|
|Shapes||Dark brown, cylindrical, ca. 1 mm long,|
|Health benefits||Helps Cure Parkinson’s disease, Urinary problemsm Can Help Cure Hangovers, Smoking Cessation, Alleviate Ear Pain, Anti-Cancer Effects, Migraines, Pregnancy Pains, Skin Treatment, Alzheimer’s and Dementia, Anti-Inflammatory Agent, Other Mental Effects, Wounds and Bruises, Keeps Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Under Control, Sinus Congestion and Chronic Coughing, Menopausal Mood Swings, Parkinson's disease, Antiviral Agent, Hormonal Balance, Cures Depression|
On the other hand the genus name Hypericum is derived from the Greek words hyper (above) and eikon (picture), in reference to the tradition of hanging plants over religious icons in the home during St John’s Day, to ward off evil. Similarly the herb’s species name ‘perforatum’ signifies the existence of small oil glands in the leaves that resemble windows and are visible when they are held against the light. St. John’s wort is used as an herbal remedy and is normally extracted from the flowers and leaves of the plant Hypericum perforatum and has been used over many centuries as a traditional medicine for wound healing and mental health problems.
St John’s wort is a shrubby perennial plant with extensive, creeping rhizomes. It is normally found growing in dry ground of roadsides, meadows and woods and it is easily grown in any reasonably good well-drained but moisture retentive soil. It may also succeed in dry soils. Stems are erect, hairless, much branched, 2-sided or ridged with black glands along the ridges, a distinctly dark ring at the lower nodes becoming somewhat woody toward base, 5-10 cm long; black-dotted that arises from a stout taproot.
St John’s wort plant has opposing, stalk less, narrow, oblong leaves that are 10-30 mm long, 3-16 mm wide or slightly larger. The leaves are yellow-green in color, with transparent dots throughout the tissue and occasionally with a few black dots on the lower surface. Leaves display obvious translucent dots when held up to the light, giving them a ‘perforated’ appearance, hence the plant’s Latin name.
Flowers measure up to 2.5 cm across, has five petals, and is colored bright yellow with visible black dots. The flowers appear in broad cymes at the ends of the upper branches, between late spring and early to mid-summer. The sepals are pointed, with glandular dots in the tissue. Sepals 5, green, lance-shaped, 5 mm long, 1 mm wide. Petals are obovate, 5-8 mm long, stamens numerous, in 3 clusters. The petals contain black or yellow glandular dots and lines. There are many stamens, which are united at the base into three bundles. The pollen grains are ellipsoidal. When flower buds (not the flowers themselves) or seed pods are crushed, a reddish/purple liquid is produced.
Fruit later converted into Ovoid capsule which is 7-8 mm long, black, reticulate and with short, sharp points at the ends. These capsules consist of dark brown seeds that are cylindrical, ca. 1 mm long, the surface pitted.
St. John’s wort is native to Europe, West Asia, North Africa, Madeira and the Azores, and is naturalized in many parts of the world, particularly North America and Australia. The plant spreads rapidly by means of runners or from the phenomenal seed production and can invade pastures, disturbed sites, dirt roads, the sides of roads and highways, and sparse woods.
Health benefits of St. John’s wort
The use of St. John’s wort dates back to 400 BC and was supposed to be used by the ancient Greeks and Romans to treat snake bites, gastrointestinal problems, depression, and other conditions. Considered a holy herb, St John’s wort was used for a number of uses during the Middle Ages and was once believed to protect people from ill health, curses, demons, and lightning.
Today, it is one of the most used herbal medicines in the world and is a key herb to treat nervous exhaustion and depression. A meta-analysis review in 2015 concluded that the herb is as effective as standard antidepressant pharmaceuticals for treating depression, and has fewer adverse effects than other antidepressants. Listed below are some of the popular health benefits of St. John’s wort
1. Cures Depression
Depression can be crippling, preventing the sufferer from living a normal, happy life. Most anti-depressants used to treat this psychological problem come with a plethora of side effects. In such a scenario, it makes sense to turn to nature to find a cure.
Research and studies in European countries have found that St. John’s wort works as a great herbal alternative to chemical laden anti-depressants. It can be used to treat mild to moderate depression. It has fewer side effects than many other antidepressants, and that is what makes it so popular in countries like USA.(1), (2)
2. Hormonal Balance
As already expressed in the explanation of the antidepressant effects of St. John’s Wort, the active ingredients have strong effects on hormone regulation in the body. Hypothyroidism is one of the most common thyroid disorders and it has been shown to reduce those symptoms and help the thyroid gland produce normal levels of hormones again.(3)
3. Antiviral Agent
Recent studies have shown that St. John’s wort consists of certain antiviral properties. These newly found activities of this special herb is shown to be helpful in the prevention and cure of AIDS, hepatitis (A & B) and several other serious viral conditions.
But the problem here is the dosage; according to the studies, a high dosage is necessary for the antiviral properties to work effectively, which may come with serious side-effects. Additional research is still on to find a happy solution out of this herb.(4), (5)
4. Menopausal Mood Swings
There are two distinct periods in feminine sexual health that can be challenging in terms of mood swings; pre-menstrual syndrome and menopause. St. John’s Wort is commonly recommended for women in both of these periods of their life, as the chemical constituents have been shown to reduce mood swings and anxiety in menopausal women, and also reduce the severity of cramping and pre-menstrual irritation and depression.(6)
5. Sinus Congestion and Chronic Coughing
St. John’s Wort has got anti-biotic as well as antiviral activity that might help reduce phlegm congestion, sinus infection, and flu as well as bronchitis symptoms. Just consuming one cup of St. John’s Wort tea right after breakfast as well as dinner might help relieve the throat and sinus problems. To make St. John’s Wort tea, just soak in a tea bag in a cup of boiling water and allow it to steep for 5 minutes. Add honey or sugar for sweetness if preferred.
6. Keeps Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Under Control
People suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD are often the ones dealing with anxiety. Often the butt of jokes, OCD sufferers rarely get their day out in the sun. St. John’s Wort does offer some relief from OCD symptoms, but they are insignificant.(7)
7. Wounds and Bruises
St. John’s Wort has got anti-bacterial as well as analgesic activity. As a result, a balm, oil, or even poultice made out of St. John’s Wort flowers and leaves might help cure cuts, wounds, insect bites, boils, as well as bruises. St. John’s Wort oil can be created by frying 1/2 cup of dried flowers and leaves of the herb in 2 tbsp of mustard oil. Leave the flowers and leaves within the oil and allow the mixture cool down. Then add 1/3 cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil to the prepared St. John’s Wort oil. Use it 3-4 times on the wound during the day. The prepared oil could be kept in an air tight container in the cool and dark location for emergency use.
8. Other Mental Effects
This quality extends past depression, despite that being the most publicized benefit, to 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. Removing chronic stress hormones from the body can also improve overall health and cognitive function, as excess stress hormones can permanently alter various organ systems.(8)
9. Urinary problems
One laboratory study suggested that St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) has the potential to help with urinary incontinence. But this use has not been tested in humans. St. John’s wort can interfere with many medications. Check with your doctor before taking St. John’s wort if you are taking prescription medications, including birth control pills. St. John’s wort can affect mood, so people with a history of psychiatric illness should ask their doctors before taking it. DO NOT take St. John’s wort if you are trying to become pregnant, or if you have a history of liver disease.(9)
10. Anti-Inflammatory Agent
Soothing nature of St. John’s Wort and the rich concentration of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds make it perfect for easing the aching pains of arthritis, in addition to gout, joint discomfort, and muscle aches. Just as it helps ease inflammation on the skin and in the gut, St. John’s Wort also lowers inflammation in the cardiovascular system, thus helping to lower blood pressure and decrease stress on the heart.(10)
11. Alzheimer’s and Dementia
Swiss scientists published a novel study in the medical journal Brain Pathology, in which they found that St. John’s Wort has a protective effect against beta-amyloid plaques linked with Alzheimer’s disease.(11)
12. Skin Treatment
If you use St. John’s Wort in topical application in the form of a salve or tincture, it can speed the healing process of burns, bruises, and scrape by encouraging circulation of oxygenated blood to those skin cells so that repairs can begin.(12), (13)
13. Pregnancy Pains
While pregnant, hemorrhoids or 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 pastes are highly recommended for women suffering from these pregnancy-related conditions.(14)
St. John’s Wort has proven itself effective for other types of pain as well, namely in the treatment of migraines. Research published in the medical journal Phytomedicine found that St. John’s Wort blocked pain receptors involved in migraines, making it an effective natural treatment for migraine sufferers.(15)
15. Anti-Cancer Effects
Cancer research has recently begun putting more faith in the role that St. John’s Wort could play. Laboratory research has shown a definite correlation between the prevention and treatment of leukemia with consistent use of St. John’s Wort supplements. Any cancer-preventing substance is highly valued, and this research will certainly be ongoing.(16)
16. Alleviate Ear Pain
Ear infections (otitis media) that cause ear pain can be cured with the use of St. John’s wort. One research involving 100 children proved that a combination of garlic, St. John’s wort, calendula and mullein can work as an effective herbal solution to provide relief from ear pain.(17)
17. Smoking Cessation
Smoking is a bad habit—almost everyone knows that. But quitting is another ball game altogether! One of the most promising uses of St. John’s wort is that it can be used to help one kick the butt. Studies are underway to give all those smokers looking to quit the habit a ray of hope.(18)
18. Can Help Cure Hangovers
Having a stubborn hangover morning after the party certainly spoils the fun of the night. Lemon water, aspirin- we try everything, but only a few things work.
Several studies concluded that hyperforin; a powerful active component present in this herb might be helpful in the cure of hangovers and alcoholism. All you need is to have is a cup of tea made from St. John’s wort herb to keep these troubles at bay.
19. Helps Cure Parkinson’s disease
St. John’s wort, with its effectiveness in enhancing the quantity of dopamine, a neurotransmitter, is a reliable remedy to cure Parkinson’s disease. Several studies suggest that a dopamine dysfunction is one of the reasons behind this mental condition. Additionally, its strong antioxidant property is said to help the neural degeneration linked to the onset of the Parkinson’s.
It is widely suggested to have one cup of St. John’s wort tea or a 300 mg of its capsule daily to keep this condition at bay.(19)
Other Traditional uses and benefits of St. John’s wort
- To combat alcoholism, drink one cup of this tea after breakfast and dinner every day for about 4 to 6 weeks.
- Consume St John’s wort tea, three times during the day for instant relief from hangovers.
- The plant was used to procure an abortion by some native North Americans, so it is best not used by pregnant women.
- A tea or tincture of the fresh flowers is a popular treatment for external ulcers, burns, wounds (especially those with severed nerve tissue), sores, bruises, cramps etc.
- An infusion of the flowers in olive oil is applied externally to wounds, sores, ulcers, swellings, rheumatism etc.
- It is also valued in the treatment of sunburn and as a cosmetic preparation to the skin.
- It is used in the treatment of injuries, bites, stings etc. and is said to be the first remedy to consider when nerve-rich areas such as the spine, eyes, fingers etc. are injured.
- Australia produces 20 percent of the world’s supply.
- The flowers are used to make liquid extracts, pills, and teas.
- Yellow, gold and brown dyes are obtained from the flowers and leaves.
- The whole plant, especially when in bloom, gives off a most unpleasant smell when handled.
How to Use St. John’s Wort
St. John’s wort can be obtained from your local health food store in many forms, including capsules, tablets, tinctures, teas and oil-based skin lotions. You can also find St. John’s wort in chopped or powdered forms. Most products are standardized to contain 0.3 percentage hypericin, but make sure to read the label before making your purchase. Herbal supplements aren’t regulated, so you need to make sure you take the right product for your needs.
Most studies on St. John’s wort have been conducted in adults, but one study involving more than 100 children under the age of 12 indicated that St. John’s wort may be a safe and effective way of treating mild to moderate symptoms of depression in children. If you are thinking about giving your child St. John’s wort to treat depression, we severely recommend that you consult with a medical supervisor first; children being treated with St. John’s wort must be carefully monitored for allergic reactions and side effects, such as diarrhea and upset stomach.
For adult use, we suggest that you follow these recommended doses:
- For anxiety, take 900 milligrams of St. John’s wort by mouth twice daily for several weeks.
- For mild to moderate depression, take 300 milligrams three times per day, with meals.
- For severe depression, take 900–1,800 milligrams of St. John’s wort by mouth daily for eight to 12 weeks.
- For psoriasis, use St. John’s wort ointment two times daily on the skin for four weeks.
- For wound healing, use 20 percent St. John’s wort in petroleum jelly on affected skin three times daily for 16 days.
- For menopausal symptoms, take 300 milligrams once daily for 12 weeks.
- For PMS, take 300–900 milligrams of St. John’s wort by mouth daily for two menstrual cycles.
- For irritable bowel syndrome, take 450 milligrams twice daily for 12 weeks.
- For nerve pain, take three 900 microgram hypericin tablets by mouth for two treatment periods of five weeks each.
- For obsessive-compulsive disorder, take 450–1,800 milligrams by mouth daily for 12 weeks.
Do Not Take If
- You are pregnant or nursing.
- You are taking birth control pills: St. John’s wort can increase the risk of pregnancy.
- You are undergoing treatment with UV light: Skin may become more sensitive to light.
- You are undergoing radiation therapy: St. John’s wort may increase adverse skin effects.
- You are undergoing chemotherapy: St. John’s wort can reduce its effectiveness.
- You are receiving methotrexate: St. John’s wort may increase toxic effects.
- You are scheduled for surgery: St. John’s wort should be discontinued well before surgery.
- You are taking blood thinners or undergoing other anticoagulant therapy: St. John’s wort may increase or decrease their effect.
- You are taking medication to treat congestive heart failure or heart rhythm problems: St. John’s wort might lessen their effects.
- You are taking medications for depression and/or anxiety: St. John’s wort may have additive effects and lead to serotonin excess, a serious condition.
- You have bipolar disorder: This herb has caused mania in a few patients with bipolar disorder.
- You are taking medications for migraines or cluster headaches: St. John’s wort may have additive effects and lead to serotonin excess, a serious condition.
- You are taking drugs for high or low blood pressure: St. John’s wort may decrease or increase their effects.
- You are taking drugs for diabetes: St. John’s wort can decrease their effectiveness.
- You are undergoing immunosuppressive therapy, antiretroviral therapy, or therapy for respiratory diseases: St. John’s wort can decrease their effectiveness.
- You are taking cholesterol lowering drugs: St. John’s wort can decrease their effectiveness.
- You are taking cough suppressants or allergy medications: St. John’s wort can decrease their effectiveness.
- You are taking pain killers: St. John’s wort can decrease their effectiveness and increase side effects.
- You regularly consume alcohol: St. John’s wort may result in increased sedation.
- You are taking clozapine: St. John’s wort can decrease its effectiveness.
Not to be taken together with the contraceptive pill, anti-epilepsy treatments and a number of other medications including anti-depressants. 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.
Both oral and topical forms of St. John’s wort may make unprotected skin more sensitive to sunlight or artificial light in sun tanning parlors. Some proof from case reports also seems to associate a higher risk of cataracts with possible eye sensitization to light when St. John’s wort is taken. If you use St. John’s wort, be sure to use sunscreen and eye protection when exposed to sunlight or artificial light used in sun tanning. Side effects reported from taking St. John’s wort by mouth include: Dizziness, Drowsiness, Dry mouth, Headache, Irritability, Upset stomach.
Rare cases of serotonin syndrome, a potentially dangerous oversupply of serotonin in the body, have been attributed to taking St. John’s wort. Uncontrolled serotonin syndrome may result in coma, seizures, and death. Symptoms of serotonin syndrome include: Confusion, Euphoria, Fever, Hallucinations, Inability to coordinate muscles, Nausea, Restlessness, Shakiness, Sweating, and Vomiting.
St. John’s wort Facts
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. St. John’s wort was given this peculiar name due to its blooming season, which falls somewhere around St. John’s day, i.e. June 24. The St. John’s wort plant has yellow flowers and is sometimes thought of as a weed in some parts of the United States. It has been used for medical purposes in other parts of the world for thousands of years. St John’s wort (hypericum perforatum) is a perennial herb with a yellow flower that has been used to treat nervous conditions since ancient Greek times. Today, it is a popular herbal remedy for mild depression. St. John’s Wort can be found in capsule, tincture, oil, or raw form and they all have their own individual uses.
|Name||St. John’s Wort|
|Scientific Name||Hypericum perforatum|
|Native||Europe but is commonly found in the United States and Canada|
|Common Names||Amber Touch-and-Heal, Hardhay, Hypericum, Klamath Weed, goatweed, Millepertuis, Rosin Rose, SJW, Tipton Weed, Perforate St John’s-wort, Common Saint John’s wort and St John’s wort|
|Name in Other Languages||English: Alien St. John’s-wort, Common Saint John’s-wort, common St. John s wort, common St. John’s wort, common st. johnswort, goatweed, Klamath weed, klamathweed, Perforate St John’s-wort, Racecourseweed, rosin rose, St. John’s wort, St. Johnswort, Tipton’s weed, Tiptonweed
Catalan: Herba de Sant Joan, Herba foradada, Pericó
Chinese: Qiān céng lóu (千层楼), Yè guānmén (夜关门), Xiǎoyè jīn sī táo (小叶金丝桃), Xiǎojīn sī táo (小金丝桃), Guàn yèliánqiáo (贯叶连翘), Tiě zhou bǎ (铁帚把), Guan ye lian qiao
Danish: Prikbladet Perikon
French: Mille pertuis, Millepertuis perforé, Millepertuis perforé, Herbe de la Saint-Jean, Herbe à mille trous, Millepertuis commun
German: Gemeines Johanniskraut, Johanniskraut, Tüpfel-Hartheu, Tüpfel-Johanniskraut
Italian: Erba di San Giovanni, Erba di San Giovanni commune, Hypericum perforatum, Iperico
Portuguese: Hipericao; Milfurada
Romanian: Asunătoare, Crucea voinicului, Drobişor, Floare de foc viu, Floare de năduf, Floare de sunătoare, Floare galbină, Floarea lui Ioan, Iarba crucii, Iarba lui Sfintul Ioan, Lemie, Pojarniţă, Sunătoare, Inchegătoare
Russian: Zveroboj obyknovennyj, Zveroboy prodyryavlennyy (Зверобой продырявленный), zveroboy obyknovennyy (зверобой обыкновенный)
South Africa: Johanneskruid
Spanish: Hierba de San Juan, Corazoncillo, Hipericon, Corión, Hierba de las heridas, Hipericón, Pericón
Swedish: Johannesblöda, Johannesört, Mansblod, Akta johannesört
Welsh: Candoll gyffredin
|Plant Growth Habit||Shrubby perennial plant|
|Growing Climate||Found in the dry ground of roadsides, meadows and woods.|
|Soil||Easily grown in any reasonably good well-drained but moisture retentive soil. Succeeds in dry soils.|
|Plant Size||0.3 to 1 m|
|Stem||Erect, hairless, much branched, 2-sided or ridged with black glands along the ridges, a distinctly dark ring at the lower nodes becoming somewhat woody toward base, 5-10 cm long, black-dotted.|
|Leaf||Opposing, stalk less, narrow, oblong leaves that are 10-30 mm long, 3-16 mm wide or slightly larger oval-shaped leaves. The leaves are yellow-green in color, with transparent dots throughout the tissue and occasionally with a few black dots on the lower surface|
|Flower||Flowers measure up to 2.5 cm across and are golden-yellow colored that have oval, elongated petals. The petals contain black or yellow glandular dots and lines. Sepals 5, green, lance-shaped, 5 mm long, 1 mm wide. Petals are obovate, 5-8 mm long, stamens numerous, in 3 clusters.|
|Flowering Periods||May to August|
|Fruit||Ovoid capsule, 7-8 mm long, black, reticulate and with short, sharp points at the ends.|
|Seed||Dark brown, cylindrical, ca. 1 mm long, the surface pitted”|
|How to Eat||