St. John's Wort

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Saint John's Wort flower
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Saint John's Wort Bush
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Saint John's Wort flowering Bush

St. John's Wort

The medicinal herb St. John's Wort as an alternative herbal remedy for mental disorders and nerve pain. - St. John's wort is a plant with yellow flowers.Common Names--St. John's wort, hypericum, Klamath weed, goat weed

Latin Name--Hypericum perforatum Picture of St. John's Wort Flower What St. John's Wort Is Used For St. John's wort has been used for centuries as an herbal remedy to treat mental disorders and nerve pain. In ancient times, herbalists wrote about its use as a sedative and a treatment for malaria, as well as a balm for wounds, burns, and insect bites. Today, St. John's wort is used by some for depression, anxiety, and/or sleep disorders.

How St. John's Wort Is Used

  • The flowering tops of St. John's wort are used to prepare teas and tablets containing concentrated extracts.

What the Science Says about St. John's Wort

  • There is some scientific evidence that St. John's wort is useful for treating mild to moderate depression. However, two large studies, one sponsored by NCCAM, showed that the herb was no more effective than placebo in treating major depression of moderate severity.
  • NCCAM is studying the use of St. John's wort in a wider spectrum of mood disorders, including minor depression.
  • A 2009 systematic review of 29 international studies suggested that St. John’s wort may be better than a placebo (an inactive substance that appears identical to the study substance) and as effective as standard prescription antidepressants for major depression of mild to moderate severity. St. John’s wort also appeared to have fewer side effects than standard antidepressants. The studies conducted in German-speaking countries—where St. John’s wort has a long history of use by medical professionals—reported more positive results than those done in other countries, including the United States.
  • Two studies, both sponsored by NCCAM and the National Institute of Mental Health, did not have positive results. Neither St. John’s wort nor a standard antidepressant medication decreased symptoms of minor depression better than a placebo in a 2011 study. The herb was no more effective than placebo in treating major depression of moderate severity in a large 2002 study.
  • Preliminary studies suggest that St. John’s wort may prevent nerve cells in the brain from reabsorbing certain chemical messengers, including dopamine and serotonin. Scientists have found that these naturally occurring chemicals are involved in regulating mood, but they are unsure exactly how they work.

Side Effects and Cautions of St. John's Wort

  • St. John's wort may cause increased sensitivity to sunlight. Other side effects can include anxiety, dry mouth, dizziness, gastrointestinal symptoms, fatigue, headache, or sexual dysfunction.
  • Research shows that St. John's wort interacts with some drugs. The herb affects the way the body processes or breaks down many drugs; in some cases, it may speed or slow a drug's breakdown. Drugs that can be affected include: Indinavir and possibly other drugs used to control HIV infection Irinotecan and possibly other drugs used to treat cancer Cyclosporine, which prevents the body from rejecting transplanted organs Digoxin, which strengthens heart muscle contractions Warfarin and related anticoagulants Birth control pills Antidepressants
  • When combined with certain antidepressants, St. John's wort may increase side effects such as nausea, anxiety, headache, and confusion.
  • St. John's wort is not a proven therapy for depression. If depression is not adequately treated, it can become severe. Anyone who may have depression should see a health care provider. There are effective proven therapies available.
  • It is important to inform your health care providers about any herb or dietary supplement you are using, including St. John's wort. This helps to ensure safe and coordinated care.

Herbal Products with St. John's Wort as part of its ingredients

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  • Serenite-LT™ - Herbal remedy to promote healthy sleep patterns for restful nights & refreshed mornings
    • Supports ongoing sleep health, naturally
    • Maintains a healthy sleep cycle and regular deep, satisfying sleep
    • Supports emotional well-being and a positive outlook
    • Maintains a healthy balance of serotonin levels
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  • BladderWell™ - Homeopathic remedy relieves urinary tract infection symptoms including burning sensation & frequent urination
    • Relieves the sensation of burning while urinating
    • Eliminates the urge for frequent urination while passing minimal urine
    • Lessens bloating and assists the body with natural water balance
    • Decreases lower back pain
    • Supports the muscles of the bladder to retain bladder strength
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  • MindSoothe™ - Herbal remedy proven to relieve symptoms of depression such as lack of sleep & appetite, plus promote emotional health
    • Relieves feelings of depression
    • Improves low self-esteem
    • Reduces excessive tearfulness
    • Regulates disturbed sleep patterns (insomnia or hypersomnia)
    • Improves loss of libido
    • Lessens fatigue and boosts motivation
    • Reduces irritability and anger
    • Improves disturbed appetite (loss of appetite or binge eating)
  • MindSoothe™ says about St. John's Wort: St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) has been traditionally used for centuries to support a balanced mood and to safely maintain mental wellness and equilibrium. In recent times, clinical studies have confirmed ancient wisdom. Hypericum is one of the most widely studied herbs on the market today. Active ingredients include glycosides, flavonoids, volatile oils, tannins and resins. St. John’s wort has also been shown to support a stable mood during menstrual and premenstrual periods. (Stevinson C, Ernst E. A pilot study of Hypericum perforatum for the treatment of premenstrual syndrome. British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. 2000;107:870-876).

St. John's Wort and Depression

Depression is a serious medical illness. Low spirits or vitality. Gloomy or Sad. Deep dejection characterized by withdrawal and lack of response to stimulation. It is a serious medical illness. It’s more than just feeling "down in the dumps" or "blue" for a few days. It’s feeling "down" and "low" and "hopeless" for weeks at a time.

Symptoms or signs of Depression

  • Low self esteem
    • Few of the synonyms of depression are the lack of self-esteem, self-worth, self-regard, self-respect, self-love, and self-integrity.
  • Excessive tearfulness
    • Feelings get hurt almost without reason. Sadness sets in without warning.
  • Disturbed sleep patterns (insomnia or hypersomnia)
  • Disturbed appetite (either loss of appetite or binge eating)
  • Loss of libido
  • Fatigue and loss of interest and motivation; Low spirits or vitality.
    • No motivation to do chores. Loss of interest in favorite hobbies.
  • Irritability and anger
    • There are many reasons for feeling angry, frustrated and depressed. Fluctuating hormones or lack of sleep can be some causes, while having too many responsibilities and not enough time to get everything done is another. For mild cases of irritability there are exercises, supplements and herbs (MindSoothe) that can calm runaway emotions, but for more severe cases prescription medication and counseling may be the best bet.
  • Anxiety and Panic attacks
    • Sufferers of panic attacks often report a fear or sense of dying, "going crazy", or experiencing a heart attack or "flashing vision", feeling faint or nauseated, heavy breathing, or losing control of themselves.
  • Obsessive thoughts and other symptoms of OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder).

Benefits of St. John's Wort

By Jeanne Grunert

The benefits of St. John's Wort are many. This beautiful and useful herb contains antibacterial properties. It relieves minor depression, and may eventually yield a treatment for alcoholism.

St. John's Wort

Native to Europe, 340 species of St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum) thrive in such diverse climates as North America, Europe and Asia. Common names for St. John's Wort include Tipton Weed, Klamath Weed and Klamathweed. The flowers are harvested, dried, and made into powders, tinctures and teas. Herbalists taught their apprentices to harvest St. John's Wort on the Feast of Saint John the Baptist, or around June 24th, when the yellow flowers were at their peak. Gradually, the name evolved to St. John's Wort or St. John's Weed in honor of the feast day.

According to the National Institute for Complimentary and Alternative medicine, the benefits of St. John's Wort come from two chemical compounds: hypericin and hyperforin. Although scientists have not isolated the exact mechanism by which St. John's Wort works, the prevailing theory is that the chemicals prevent the reuptake of serotonin in much the same way as many common SSRI antidepressant medications. Serotonin is the chemical within the brain that lifts mood. Psychiatrist believe that the biological causes of depression may be too little circulating serotonin or a problem in how the brain takes up or reuses the existing serotonin. St. John's Wort and SSRI medications work by altering the brain chemistry that affects serotonin.

The Europeans frequently choose St. John's Wort to treat mild depression. The herb is catching on in the United States as more and more people seek help and treatment for depression. In both Europe and America, St. John's Wort may be purchased over-the-counter. In Ireland, St. John's Wort is only available by prescription.

The Benefits of St. John's Wort

Use St. John's Wort to treat a variety of conditions. Topical ointments and creams containing St. John's Wort treat bruises, sprains and contusions. It aids in healing wounds and cuts. Taken as a tea or capsule, St. John's Wort acts as an antidepressant. Treating Wounds, Cuts and Abrasions

St. John's Wort provides powerful antibacterial action as a skin cream. Hyperforin, one of the two chemicals assumed by scientists as the active ingredient in St. John's Wort, kills Staphylococcus bacteria, particularly the kind resistant to antibiotics. Smooth St. John's Wort cream onto cuts, bruises, and any breaks in the skin to prevent infection. If you can't find St. John's Wort cream, use a highly purified tincture mixed into an herbal salve base to make your own.

Depression

Among all herbal treatments for depression, St. John's Wort is perhaps the best known and studied. A translated summary of research from the Department of Pharmacology, J.W. Goethe University in Frankfort, Germany, states that "a number of good clinical studies have been carried out which confirm the efficacy and tolerability of St. John's Wort extract in mild clinical depressive disorders." Some studies have shown that it is equally as effective as many prescription tri-cyclic antidepressant drugs and has fewer side effects. Yet other studies from the National Institute for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine show that St. John's Wort is no more effective at treating depression than a placebo. While scientists in North America and Europe continue to conduct research on St. John's Wort, centuries of use point to some benefit for the relief of depression.

Depression can be a serious illness, so always consult a physician for advice. Typical use of St. John's Wort for depression includes capsules and tinctures. It takes several weeks for St. John's Wort to relieve the symptoms of depression and anxiety, so if symptoms worsen consult a physician or mental health professional immediately.

Other Benefits

Promising new research indicates that St. John's Wort reduces cravings for alcohol, thus making it a promising avenue for future research and treatment of alcohol addiction. Doctors aren't sure exactly why St. John's Wort reduces alcohol cravings, but the theory they've come up with is that alcoholics are 'self medicating' an intuited imbalance in brain chemistry, and St. John's Wort is restoring the balance. Research on herbal alcoholism treatments is extremely preliminary, and more studies are needed before any conclusions can be drawn.

Contradications

Before you rush out and buy St. John's Wort, consider the contraindications. Although St. John's Wort is relatively safe, it does increase photosensitivity. Persons taking St. John's Wort should use extra care and caution in the sun, covering skin with clothing or using a high SPF sun block to avoid a bad burn. St. John's Wort also interacts with many prescription medications, notably antidepressants, digoxin, oral contraceptives, warfarin, and over the counter drugs such as the antidiarrheal drug loperamide. Consult a physician before taking St. John's Wort if you take any prescription medications.