St John’s wort is a shrub-like perennial herb with bright yellow flowers that is native to Europe, western Asia, and northern Africa. Common St John’s wort is a flowering plant species of the genus Hypericum. It is a medicinal herb with antidepressant properties and potential antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, it has been applied to the skin to help heal wounds and burns. St John’s wort may help treat mild-to-moderate depression, and has fewer side effects than most other prescription antidepressants. But it interacts with a number of medications, so it should be taken only under the guidance of a health care provider. ( Watch “The safe and proper use of St Johns Wort” Video)
How St John’s Wort Works
A chemical in St John’s Wort called hypericin was considered responsible for its effects against depression. More recent information suggests another chemical, hyperforin, may play a larger role in depression. Hypericin and hyperforin act on chemical messengers in the nervous system that regulate mood.
Medicinal Uses of St John’s Wort
- Depression. There is some strong scientific evidence that it is effective for mild to moderate depression and causes fewer side effects than older standard antidepressants (tricyclics or TCAs). Researchers are uncertain about how St John’s wort works to relieve depression. Hypericin was first recognized as its active ingredient, but newer information indicates that hyperforin, another compound in the herb, also plays an important role. (Watch ” St. John’s Wort: Cure for Depression” Video)
- Wound healing. Some research shows that applying a specific St John’s wort ointment (Gol-Daru Company) three times daily for 16 days improves wound healing and reduces scar formation after a cesarean section.
- Menopausal symptoms. Some research shows that a combination of St John’s wort plus black cohosh can help improve menopausal symptoms.
- Other uses include heart palpitations, moodiness and other symptoms of menopause, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
Alternative Names of St John’s Wort
Amber, Amber Touch-and-Heal, Barbe de Saint-Jean, Chasse-diable, Demon Chaser, Fuga Daemonum, Goatweed, Hardhay, Herbe à la Brûlure, Herbe à Mille Trous, Herbe Aux Fées, Herbe Aux Mille Vertus, Herbe Aux Piqûres, Herbe de Saint Éloi, Herbe de la Saint-Jean, Herbe du Charpentier, Herbe Percée, Hierba de San Juan, Hypereikon, Hyperici Herba, Hypericum perforatum, Klamath Weed, Millepertuis, Millepertuis Perforé, Rosin Rose, Saynt Johannes Wort, SJW, Tipton Weed.