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St. John’s Wort

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.

St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) is listed as a safe and effective herb with the German Commission E. There are many clinical trials which support the effectiveness of this herb in maintaining stable healthy levels of neurotransmitters responsible for healthy mood, sleep, concentration, libido, and general feelings of well-being. (Shelton, R. C., Keller, M. B., Gelenberg, A., Dunner, D. L., Hirschfeld, R., Thase, M. E., Russell, J., Lydiard, R. B., Crits-Cristoph, P., Gallop, R., Todd, L., Hellerstein, D., Goodnick, P., Keitner, G., Stahl, S. M., and Halbreich, U. “Effectiveness of St John’s wort in major depression: a randomized controlled trial.” JAMA 4-18-2001;285(15):1978-1986.)

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.

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).

Last Updated on December 24, 2021

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