Unique in the fact that St. John’s Wort is named after St. John the Baptist, the herb contains a rare combination of antidepressant chemicals to help improve mood, regulate hormone activity, and alleviate anxiety. If you're struggling with finding your happiness, the yellow flowered cluster of joy could be exactly what you’re looking for to improve your mood.
What Is St. John’s Wort
St John’s Wort, known botanically as hypericum perforatum is a leafy plant a yellow five-petaled flower, which grows in the open through much of the world’s temperate regions. The ancient Greeks first discovered St John’s Wort in the first century AD, dating back nearly 2,000 years ago. Studies have proven that St. John’s Wort has numerous health benefits, which include elevating mood for people fighting mild to moderate depression, being used as an anti-bacterial and even relieving PMS symptoms.
St. Johns Wort Is Used To Fight Depression
As one of the most extensively studied medicinal plants, research indicates that St. John’s Wort is effective as an anti-depressant. The exact mechanism of action, works by changing neurotransmitter concentration mainly serotonin, in areas of the brain, that fight depression. Studies have indicated that St. John’s Wort is a valuable remedy for the treatment of mild to moderate depression, and can help enhance mood. Depression affects 3-5% of the world’s population and as opposed to prescribed antidepressants, St. John’s Wort is a natural remedy, which is competing for status, as a standard antidepressant therapy.1
According to a study conducted at the University of Naples, Department of Experimental Pharmacology, Biochemical studies suggest that the phloroglucinol derivative hyperforin is the main active ingredient of St John's Wort, and inhibits the synaptosomal uptake of 5-HT, noradrenaline, dopamine, glutamate and GABA. That being said, St John's Wort has been shown to alleviate indications of mild to moderate depression and seems to offer significant advantages over conventional antidepressants because it is associated with fewer adverse reactions.2
St John’s Wort Helps Relieve PMS Symptoms
Another great health benefit of St. John’s Wort is relieving symptoms of Premenstrual syndrome or (PMS). Some of the most widely prescribed medications for PMS are classified as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Since Hypericum perforatum (St John's wort) influences the serotonergic system, it is widely believed that St. John’s Wort can alleviate mild to moderate symptoms associated with PMS.
In a randomized, double-blind, controlled study at the University of Leeds, in the United Kingdom, 36 women aged 18-45 with regular menstrual cycles (25-35 days), who were prospectively diagnosed with mild PMS, were randomly assigned either 900mg of St. John’s Wort per day, or identical placebos for two menstrual cycles. After a placebo-treated washout cycle, the women crossed over to receive placebo or St. John’s Wort for two additional cycles. The results indicated that St. John’s Wort was statistically superior to placebo in improving physical and behavioral symptoms of PMS.5
St John’s Wort Has Antibacterial Properties
St. John’s Wort is also known to have great antibacterial properties. Used in traditional medicine as a topical wound and ulcer salve, studies have shown that Oleum Hyperici an oil macerate of the flowering aerial portions of the plant reduces both wound size and healing time. Of its active constituents, the naphthodianthrone hypericin and phloroglucinol hyperforin are effective antibacterial compounds against various bacteria.3
In a study conducted at the Freiburg University Clinic, Department of Dermatology in Germany, 21 patients suffering from mild to moderate dermatitis (eczema) were treated, with a hypericum-cream (a major constituent of St. John’s Wort) twice daily for a period of 4 weeks. The results showed that the intensity of the lesions was greatly improved, with skin tolerance rated as good or excellent.4
How To Take St. John’s Wort
St. John’s Wort comes in many forms, including capsules, drops, lotions, and tablets. All St. John Wort products should contain at a minimum 0.3% hypericin, the major medicinal constituent, or 3-5% hyperforin in St. John’s Wort. As with any supplement or medication, it can take around 4-6 weeks to have any noticeable effects.
If you’re experiencing symptoms of mild to moderate depression, St. John’s Wort could be a good alternative to prescribed or synthetic antidepressant medication, considering it’s natural origin and fewer known side effects. Before you self-diagnose or medicate, however, it is important to consult a physician.
- Butterweck V. Mechanism of action of St John's wort in depression : what is known?. CNS Drugs. 2003;17(8):539-62.
- Di carlo G, Borrelli F, Ernst E, Izzo AA. St John's wort: Prozac from the plant kingdom. Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2001;22(6):292-7.
- Lyles JT, Kim A, Nelson K, et al. The Chemical and Antibacterial Evaluation of St. John's Wort Oil Macerates Used in Kosovar Traditional Medicine. Front Microbiol. 2017;8:1639.
- Schempp CM, Windeck T, Hezel S, Simon JC. Topical treatment of atopic dermatitis with St. John's wort cream--a randomized, placebo controlled, double blind half-side comparison. Phytomedicine. 2003;10 Suppl 4:31-7.
- Canning S, Waterman M, Orsi N, Ayres J, Simpson N, Dye L. The efficacy of Hypericum perforatum (St John's wort) for the treatment of premenstrual syndrome: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. CNS Drugs. 2010;24(3):207-25.
- Schulman A. Robert, MD. Solve it With Supplements. 2007, Rodale.