St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum) has a long history of folk use for treating anxiety and depression. The flowering tops of St. John’s Wort are used to prepare teas, tablets, capsules, and liquid extracts. Topical preparations are also available.
The herb obtained the name from the feast day of John the Baptist, which coincides with Midsummer's Eve and the Summer Solstice. It is when the sun is at its maximum height and when the herb is at its peak. It is said to be a sunny plant, bringing light and cheer where previously there was darkness and hopelessness.
Modern research has shown positive effects of the herb in decreasing levels of mild-moderate anxiety or depression. Clinical studies show that treatment with hypericin-- one of the active compounds in St. John's Wort results in a significant improvement in anxiety, depression, feelings of worthlessness and sleep. Other active compounds of the herb include hyperforin and flavonoids.
The mechanism of how St. John's Wort works as an anti-depressant is not fully understood. Early research is indicative that St. John's Wort mildly inhibits monoamine oxidase (MAO), which breaks down serotonin and norepinephrine. However, the herb increases norepinephrine. By inhibiting MAO and increasing norepinephrine, St. John's Wort may exert a mild anti-depressive action. St. John's Wort may also block the receptors that bind serotonin.
The herb has been used for a variety of conditions to include, kidney and lung ailments, wound healing, pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). It is said to have antibacterial, antioxidant, and antiviral properties.
It is good to understand that St. John's Wort can weaken the effects of prescribed medications, and taking it with certain antidepressants or other drugs that affect serotonin may lead to increased serotonin-related side effects, which may be potentially serious. It is not recommended to use St. John's Wort while taking prescribed medications to include anti-depressants. Please reach out to your healthcare provider and do your own research to determine if you may benefit from using this herb.
*Information in this blog is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure your condition(s), but for educational purposes.
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