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St. John's Wort

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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.

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

Mindsoothe veg cap.jpg
  • MindSoothe™ Veg Cap - Herbal remedy to support balanced mood, emotional health and feelings of well-being
    • 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)

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

  • 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
  • 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)
  • 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

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).

News About St. John's Wort

Benefits Of St. John's Wort (Hypericum Perforatum) For Health

(Tip Disease)
St. John's Wort (Hypericum Perforatum)

St. John's Wort (Hypericum Perforatum) is known as other name: Amber Touch-and-heal, Goatweed, Hypericum, Johnswort, Klamath Weed, Rosin Rose, St. John's Grass, St. John's Wort, Tipton Weed...

St. John's wort (botanical name Hypericum Perforatum) is also known as Tipton's weed, Klamath weed and goat weed. It is an aromatic perennial plant belonging to the Hypericaceae family. The herb is native to Europe, but over the years has been introduced to several temperate regions across the globe, especially in the United States, and is found to grow naturally in numerous meadows. The herb derived its name St. John's wort because it bears golden yellow blossoms that appear in abundance particularly on June 24 - the day customarily commemorated as the birthday of John the Baptist. The aerial parts of the plants, including the leaves and flowering tops that are therapeutically applied are harvested at about that time.

St John's wort stems are erect, branched in the upper section, and can grow to 1 m high. St John's wort can be visually recognized by leaf and flower type. Yellow, five petaled flowers approximately 20 mm across occur between late Spring and early to mid Summer. Leaves exhibit translucent dots when held up to the light, giving them a "perforated' appearance. When flowers or seed pods are crushed, a reddish/purple liquid is produced.

The St John's wort flowers of the plant have been used throughout history as a natural herbal remedy in order to benefit the body in numerous ways. The flowering tops of St. John's wort are used to prepare teas and tablets containing concentrated extracts.

Benefits Of St. John's Wort (Hypericum Perforatum) For Health

The therapeutic properties of St. John's wort was known to men since ancient times and even primeval authorities on medicine like Dioscorides and Hippocrates were aware of the plant's remedial benefits. In fact, the herb was recommended for effectively treating several medical conditions right from the Middle Ages. The tea has also been found to be effectual in treating nervousness, depression and restlessness. Many people who have used the herbal tea claim that the formulation is also useful as a diuretic as well as for treating a number of medical conditions, including insomnia and gastritis.

In effect, using St. John's wort has proved to be effective in alleviating the symptoms of painful, intense and sporadic menstruation and premenstrual syndrome or PMS. In addition, the herb also possesses diuretic properties and reduces fluid withholding as well as speeds up the process of eradicating toxins through urination. St. John's wort is also an effective medication to cure bedwetting by kids and children. Moreover, the herb has proved to be helpful in treating painful conditions like arthritis and gout.

St. John's wort has long been used medicinally as an anti-inflammatory for strains, sprains, and contusions. St. John's wort also has been used to treat muscular spasms, cramps, and tension that results in muscular spasms.


Bioflavonoids, in general, serve to reduce vascular fragility and inflammation. Since flavonoids improve venous-wall integrity, St. John's wort is useful in treating swollen veins. St. John's wort preparations may be ingested for internal bruising and inflammation or following a traumatic injury to the external muscles and skin.

The oil is also useful when applied to wounds and bruises or rubbed onto strains, sprains, or varicose veins. When rubbed onto the belly and breasts during pregnancy, the oil may also help prevent stretch marks. Topical application is useful to treat hemorrhoids and aching, swollen veins that can occur during pregnancy.

St. John's wort is reported to relieve anxiety and tension and to act as an antidepressant. It was once thought that hypericin interfered with the body's production of a depression-related chemical called monoamine oxidase (MAO), but recent research has shed doubt on this claim. Research now is focusing on other constituents, such as hyperforin and flavonoids.

St. John's wort has also been studied for the treatment of other emotional disorders such as anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), menopausal mood swings, and premenstrual syndrome. In laboratory studies, it has shown some effectiveness for lessening the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal and for reducing the craving for alcohol in addicted animals. It is believed that chemicals in St. John's wort may act like other chemicals that are associated with relieving emotional conditions.

St. John's wort is useful for pelvic pain and cramping. According to the 1983 British Pharmacopoeia, St. John's wort is specifically indicated for "menopausal neuroses": Many women who experience anxiety, depression, and other emotional disturbances during menopause may benefit from this herb's use.

The National Cancer Institute has conducted several studies showing that St. John's wort has potential as a cancer-fighting drug. One study showed that mice injected with the feline leukemia virus were able to fight off the infection after just a single dose of St. John's wort.

Possible antiviral effects of St. John's wort are being investigated for the treatment of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, and other viral illnesses. It is thought that hypericin, pseudohypericin, and other chemicals in St. John's wort may stick to the surfaces of viruses and keep them from binding to host cells. Another theory is that St. John's wort may contain chemicals that interfere with the production or release of viral cells. This antiviral activity is enhanced greatly by exposure to light. However, the doses needed for active antiviral effect from St. John's wort may be so high that unbearable side effects may limit its usefulness as an antiviral.

St. John's wort has also been used to treat hypothyroidism and a salve made with the extract can be used topically to treat bruises, burns, insect bites and scabies.

In addition, St. John's wort is often recommended to treat trigeminal neuralgia (sharp and convulsive pain all along the course of a nerve) and sciatica (any painful condition spreading from the hip downwards to the back of the thigh and adjoining areas), back pain, fibrositis (a condition distinguished by unceasing pain in the muscles and soft tissues adjacent to the joints, fatigue, and soreness at particular areas in the body), shingles (an ailment caused by the varicella-zoster virus), headaches as well as rheumatic pain. The herbal oil extracted from St. John's wort alleviates and cures burns, lesions, cuts, tenderness, and ulcers as well as soothes inflammation or tenderness.

St. John's Wort (Hypericum Perforatum) Side effects and cautions

Using any form of St. John's wort makes the skin more sensitive to light. Hence, it is advisable that people with fair complexion and using St. John's wort ought to keep away from exposure to powerful sunlight as well as all sources of ultraviolet (UV) light - for instance, tanning beds. In addition, such people should also keep away from specific foods, including red wine, yeast, cheese and pickled herring. Here is a word of caution for women using St. John's wort. This herb or medications prepared with it should never be used by pregnant women and nursing mothers.

When not to use St. John's Wort

The therapeutic properties of St. John's wort notwithstanding, using the herb may result in a number of side effects. In addition, this herb should not be used by people enduring certain conditions or women when they are pregnant or lactating. A number of instances are mentioned below wherein St. John's wort should not be used under any circumstances. Precisely speaking, use of the herb in the conditions mentioned below is strictly prohibited and if used may prove to be detrimental for the patient's health.

• People taking any form of prescription anti-depressant, especially any of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like Prozac, should never use St. John's wort. Taking any SSRIs and the herb concurrently will result in a severe drug interaction known as serotonin syndrome. It is essential to consult your physician beforehand in case you are already taking a prescription anti-depressant and also desire to use St. John's wort for treating other medical conditions, for instance insomnia or premenstrual syndrome (PMS). In addition, it is never advisable to do self-medication with St. John's wort, especially if you are already taking any prescription anti-depressant or SSRIs.
• It is advisable never to take hypericum for treating bipolar disorder (also called manic depression) or if you are experiencing acute depression involving suicidal thoughts or tendencies. While a number of studies have advocates using a very high dosage of hypericum - about 1,800 mg or more daily, to effectively cure severe depression, most scientists are of the view that more extensive research is needed in this regard to substantiate the recommendations of these studies. As of now, the herb is only recommended for treating gentle to restrained cases of depression as well as a remedy for seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
• St. John's wort should never be used by women who are either pregnant or lactating. Thus far, scientists have not examined St. John's wort for teratogenicity. In other words, it is yet to be ascertained whether the use of the herb by pregnant women caused any harm to the fetus or still unborn child. However, St. John's wort has been traditionally used as a tonic for the uterus as well as a gentle stimulant for the uterus. It may be mentioned here that so far at least one research involving animals in laboratory has confirmed that St. John's wort possesses the property to stimulate the uterus.
• Children under the age of 12 years should never be given any medical preparation with St. John's wort. It is advisable not to even apply the herb externally on them. For instance, since long people have been effectively using St. John's wort to treat babies having colic (a condition wherein the baby experiences bouts of abdominal pain). The treatment of colicky babies involved soaking the affected babies in a bathtub containing warm water with flowers and leaves of St. John's wort or the liquid extract from the herb. It may be noted that St. John's wort possesses anti-spasmodic, tranquilizing and analgesic properties which are effective in curing colic. Taking a bath with warm water containing a liquid extract of St. John's wort is believed to be an exceptional remedy for nervousness, restiveness as well as stomach cramps.
• People enduring substance abuse problems or are addicted to alcohol, heroin, cocaine, amphetamines or crack should never use St. John's wort under any circumstance. Taking St. John's wort concurrently with any of the above mentioned substances will result in a severe drug interaction. This is despite a number of unreliable reports that St. John's wort is a useful medication for detoxification or getting our body rid of toxins. Before you use the herb as a ‘detox' medication, it is essential that you consult your physician or a counsellor to find if St. John's wort is suitable for your conditions. You may, however, consider taking St. John's wort during the recuperation stage with a view to treat anxiety and insomnia related to your conditions.
When to use St. John's Wort with caution

Although it is a very useful herb that is effective in treating a number of conditions, St. John's wort should be used with extreme caution. Below are a few instances to help you use St. John's herb with prudence.

• People enduring chronic heart, kidney or liver ailments should necessarily use St. John's wort only under the supervision of a competent and practiced medical practitioner. The same applies for people who have been diagnosed with ailments of the connective tissues like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus (an uncommon type of tuberculosis of the skin.) People enduring chronic diseases of different organs usually experience a severe weakening of the body's resistance system and, hence, they are often unable to successfully absorb and digest several medications, including bio-medicines. In fact, it has been found that people suffering from heart, kidney and liver ailments are particularly vulnerable to severe side effects caused by the medications administered to them. They experience side effects even when they take a mild herbal medication like St. John's wort. It may be noted here that in the instance of connective tissue diseases like photosensitivity, systemic lupus and acute skin reactions owing to sunlight are the real symptoms of the ailment. Here is a word of caution: never engage in self-medication with St. John's wort, an herb known for its photosensitizing properties. This may result in the worsening of the symptoms experienced by the patients.
• People suffering from chronic high blood pressure or hypertension should always use St. John's wort with utmost concern and always under the supervision of a competent and qualified medical practitioner.
• If you have cancer, hepatitis, AIDS or it has been detected that you have HIV or tuberculosis, hypericum enclosed in St. John's wort may be used to treat the conditions. However, the underlying fact remains that this substance should only be used under the supervision of a qualified medical practitioner. Several studies conducted with St. John's wort have established that the herb possesses anti-cancer, anti-bacterial, anti-viral as well as immune-enhancing characteristics. Consequently, it is believed that St. John's herb has immense remedial virtues and has the potential to control and treat the medical conditions mentioned above. However, scientists are of the view that more extensive researches need to be undertaken on this subject since clinical trials on humans so far have either been restricted or controlled strictly. In effect, people enduring any of these ailments ought to carry on with the usual treatment procedures and only use St. John's wort as an encouraging or collateral treatment essentially under the advice and supervision of a qualified medical practitioner.

While it is not advisable to use St. John's wort in children below the age of 12 years, even older people using this herb should do so only on the advice and under the supervision of a competent medical practitioner. Never ever attempt to do self-medication with St. John's wort as the consequences are likely to be detrimental for your condition and overall health.


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.



St. John’s Wort Plant Care: How To Grow St. John’s Wort

By Jackie Carroll

St. John’s wort (Hypericum spp.) is a pretty little shrub with cheery yellow flowers that have a burst of long, showy stamen in the center. The blossoms last from midsummer until fall, and they are followed by colorful berries. St. John’s wort plant care is a snap, so let’s find out how easy it is to grow these delightful shrubs.

Can I Grow St. John’s Wort?

If you live in USDA plant hardiness zones 5 or 6 to 10 and have a partially shaded site, you can probably grow St. John’s wort. The plant isn’t particular about the soil type. It grows well in sand, clay, rocky soil or loam, and tolerates acidic to slightly alkaline pH.

St. John’s wort adapts to both moist and dry soil, and even tolerates occasional flooding. It also withstands drought but grows best with irrigation during prolonged dry spells. You won’t find a plant that will thrive in more situations.

How to Grow St. John’s Wort

Growing St. John’s wort herb in a location with too much sun can lead to leaf scorch, while too much shade reduces the number of flowers. The best location is one with bright morning sunlight and a little shade in the hottest part of the afternoon.

If your soil isn’t particularly fertile, prepare the bed before transplanting. Spread about 2 inches of compost or rotted manure over the area and dig it in to a depth of at least 8 inches. Transplant the shrubs into the garden, setting them at the height at which they grew in their containers. They grow only 1 to 3 feet tall with a spread of 1.5 to 2 feet, so space them 24 to 36 inches apart. Water slowly and deeply after planting and keep the soil moist until the transplants are well-established.

St John’s Wort Plant Uses

St. John’s wort makes an attractive ground cover and soil stabilizer. Once established, the plants need no care, and this makes them ideal for out-of-the-way locations. You can also use it as an edging or to mark boundaries and pathways where you don’t want to obstruct the view. Other uses include containers, rock gardens and foundation plantings.

The species plants self-seed and can become weedy, particularly common St. John’s wort (H. perforatum). Ornamental cultivars are well-behaved plants that aren’t likely to grow out of control. Here are a few cultivars you might want to try:

• H. x moserianum ‘Tricolor’ – This cultivar is noted for its variegated foliage with a rainbow of color that includes red, pink, cream and green.
• H. frondosum ‘Sunburst’ – This is one of the cultivars that can take winter temperatures down to zone 5. It forms a bushy mound up to 2 feet in diameter.
• The Hypearls series includes the cultivars ‘Olivia’, ‘Renu’, ‘Jacqueline’ and ‘Jessica.’ This series is one of the best for hot climates.
• H. calycinum ‘Brigadoon’ – The flowers on this cultivar aren’t as conspicuous as some of the others, but it has chartreuse foliage that turns golden orange in bright sun.

The Benefits of St. John’s Wort

(Linda, eCellulitis)

Hypericum perforatum is a flowering herb commonly known as St. John’s Wort. Other names for this plant can indicate its usage and characteristics; you will find it under different names such as goat weed, Tipton’s weed, and rosin rose. It is interesting that it is also called chase-devil, due to the belief that it could help the body to get rid of the bad spirits. The name St. John’s wort is derived from the Greek words hyper – above and eikon – picture.

Plant description and history

People used to hang this plant in the house, especially over the religious icons to ward off evil spirits. St.John’s wart is also used for any other species of the genus Hypericum. It is believed that the flower bloomed for the first time around June 24, which is the birthday of St. John the Baptist. The word “wort” is an Old English word for plant.

You will recognize this plant by its yellow flowers and its yellow-green leaves that sometimes have transparent or black dots throughout the tissue. It is grown commercially in Europe, yet some countries listed it as noxious weed. This perennial plant has well known reputation as a medicine that treats depression.

Characteristisc of St. John’s wort

Although not all of the researches are conducted carefully and patiently, it is confirmed that St. John’s wort has antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. Due to the compounds known as hyperforin and hypericin this plant shows antidepressant and antioxidant activities.

What makes this herb unforgettable is a long tradition of usage as painkiller and sedative. Most of the peoples’ first thought when mentioning this herb is surely anti-depressant activity, anxiety, and mental disorders, but there are more secrets hidden when it comes to this plant’s health benefits. Not many people are familiar with the fact that St. John’s wort was, and still is, used for the treatment of burns and bruises, breathing problems, alcoholism, haemorrhoids, bed-wetting in children, and kidney and lung problems. Some studies indicate that this specie is beneficial for treating sinus infection, sore throats, psoriasis, and arthritis.

Forms of St. John’s wort

As almost every other herbal remedy, St. John’s wort can be found in capsules, extracts, tablets, tincture, oils, tea, creams and dried. The only suggestion when purchasing extracts is to look for the one made from dried flowers that have at least 0.3 percentage of hypericin.

Treatments with St. John’s Wort
Skin problems

Different skin problems are usually treated with the oil of St. John’s wort. This oil was used for a long time to ease the pain and disinfect wounded areas of the body. Due to its anti-inflammatory activities, this oil is effective for treating burns and cuts. Some used it to treat haemorrhoids. The oil is very beneficial to treat skin irritations because of the element called tannin.

Ear pain

An alternative practitioners show that St. John’s wort is lucrative for ear infection – otitis media. In the combination with garlic, and calendula it can ease the pain as good as conventional eardrops.

Bruises and wounds

Another important usage of balm, poultice or the oil of St. John’s wort is to heal wounds, bruises, insect bites, and boils. Given the fact that St. John’s wort has analgesic and antibacterial properties, dried leaves and flowers can help regain healthy skin. The oil is made easily if you fry ½ cup of dried flowers and leaves in 2 tablespoons of mustard oil. When the mixture is cooled down, add 1/3 cup of olive oil and apply it 3-4 times on a wound every day.

Alcoholism and hangovers

Although not scientifically confirmed in details, it is believed that tea made from St. John’s wort can help treat hangovers and alcoholism. It is easy to make a tea from dried flowers and leaves, add one tablespoon of dried plant to boiling water and leave it to simmer for 5 minutes. After that, you can add honey for sweetness. To combat alcoholism, drink one cup of tea after breakfast and dinner every day for 4 weeks. For hangover, drink the tea two times during the day.

Menopause and premenstrual syndrome

Some preliminary researches show that supplementation with St. John’s wort can reduce symptoms of premenstrual syndrome by approximately 50 percent. Another research shows that symptoms of menopause can also be reduced when St. John’s wort is taken with another supplement, for instance black cohosh.

Depression

This is an illness where St. John’s wort has the longest usage and different results. The utility of this herb in the treatment of mild to moderate depression, mood swing, and anxiety is on the same level of productivity and efficiency as the effects that tricyclic antidepressants produce in short-term treatments. In particular, Hyperforin and hypericin can raise the release of dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. These neurotransmitters are important because they modulate brain signals between cells, in other words, they carry message from nerve cells to other cells. Once the message is delivered, they are inactive. These important substances can make the neurotransmitters available for the body to use. Hypericin is also capable of inhibiting a chemical monoamine oxidase, which is related with depression and anxiety.

Side effects

The most common side effects are tiredness, restlessness, dizziness, mild stomach upset, and allergic skin reaction. It is recommended to consult your doctor before taking it, particularly if you are taking any other medications.

It is not recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women, and organ transplant recipients. All those who are treated with depression, schizophrenia or similar illness, should avoid before consulting with a doctor. Some people may be allergic to this herb, so it is crucial to contact your doctor if any of the signs of unwanted allergic reaction show during the treatment.



St. John's Wort: Perk Up Your Tea

(PT STaff)

Often, sipping a cup of hot tea is enough to take the edge off. But some herbal teas—particularly blends made with St. John's wort or valerian—deliver a bit more in the serenity department.

Improving your mood is just one benefit offered by a unique line of pharmaceutical herbal teas. Called Good Earth Medicinals, they have been proven safe and effective in helping to ease symptoms of the flu, insomnia, tension, colds and indigestion. Based on formulas developed by Swiss herbalist Johannes Kuenzle, they're produced in Europe under standards that are stricter than those in the U.S.—the ingredients are grown to pharmaceutical specifications and the packaging facilities hold a pharmaceutical license.

Many herbal remedies have been proven highly effective. St. John's wort is often used for alleviating anxiety, stress, seasonal affective disorder, insomnia and depression. James Duke, an ethnobotanist and author of The Green Pharmacy calls it "simply the best herbal treatment for depression."

Like serotonin-reuptake inhibitors, St. John's wort is believed to work by allowing more serotonin to linger in the brain, as low serotonin levels have been linked with depression. The herb may also lower levels of the protein interleukin-6—high levels of this protein are also associated with depression.

In Germany, physicians prescribe St. John's wort about 20 times more often than Prozac, according to the American Journal of Natural Medicine. An analysis of 23 European studies published in the British Medical Journal found St. John's wort to be a viable treatment for mild to moderate depression. Several additional studies are evaluating its long-term effectiveness, including a large National Institutes of Health-funded trial under way at Duke University Medical Center

St. John's wort is generally safe, but there are a few caveats. Depression is a serious illness, and St. John's wort shouldn't be mixed with other antidepressants, so check with your physician before using it. The U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine warns that the herb also reduces the effectiveness of some prescription drugs, so consult your doctor before adding it to your regimen.

Still, if taken correctly, a tea enhanced with St. John's wort may be just the recipe for lifting your spirits. "Everyone goes through stressful situations," notes Mindy Green, education services director for the Herb Research Foundation in Colorado. "If you hit one of life's little road bumps and are having a hard time, it wouldn't hurt to give this a try"

And if you're suffering from insomnia, another of depression's various symptoms, Green recommends drinking tea with valerian. Dubbed the "Valium of the 19th century," it has long been a part of the herbalist's pharmacy for treating insomnia and is considered one of the more powerful herbal sedatives. Green also notes that unlike synthetic sedatives, valerian is not considered addictive, and you won't have to battle a groggy morning-after hangover.


The Benefits of St. John's Wort: Can It Ease Depression?

By Cathy Wong, ND (Reviewed by a board-certified physician)

A flowering plant, St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum) was named because the bright yellow flowers were said to bloom for the first time around St. John the Baptist's birthday. The word "wort" means "plant" in Old English. Why Do People Use St. John's Wort?

People have been using St. John's wort for centuries. Today, the popular herb is often used to ease the symptoms of depression, but it is also being explored for the following health concerns:

• Anxiety
• Menopause-related symptoms
• Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
• Seasonal affective disorder
• Smoking cessation

An oil made from St. John’s wort has also been used topically for wound healing and for a variety of other skin conditions such as eczema and hemorrhoids. The Benefits of St. John’s Wort: Can It Really Help?

1) Depression

Although the benefits of St. John's wort are still being explored, overall, the evidence suggests that St. John's wort may be more effective than a placebo in alleviating mild-to-moderate depression. A 2015 study published in the Annals of Family Medicine, for instance, examined whether antidepressants were more effective than a placebo in a primary care setting. For the analysis, scientists examined 66 previously published studies (with a total of 15,161 participants) and found that antidepressant medication and St. John's wort extracts were more effective than a placebo.

St. John's wort was associated with fewer dropouts because of adverse effects compared to tricyclic and tetracyclic antidepressants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), a noradrenaline reuptake inhibitor (NRI), a serotonin-noradrenaline reuptake inhibitor (SNRI; venlafaxine), and noradrenergic and specific serotonergic antidepressant agents (NaSSAs).


2) Major Depression

The most comprehensive research on St. John's wort and major depression includes a report published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews in 2008. For the report, researchers looked at 29 previously published clinical trials (with a total of 5489 participants) that compared the effects of St. John's wort to a placebo or standard antidepressant medication for a period of four to 12 weeks.

In their analysis, the study's authors found that St. John's wort extracts may be more effective than a placebo and were as effective as standard antidepressants, but the herb appeared to have fewer side effects.

The authors noted in their analysis that the studies conducted in German-speaking countries (where St. John's wort has a long history of use and is often recommended by physicians) reported more positive results than studies conducted in the United States and other countries.

Possible Side Effects and Drug Interactions

St. John's wort is sold widely in drug stores, grocery stores, and health food stores, which may lead you believe that it's safe, but the herb can have very serious interactions with a large number of commonly used medications because of the way it's broken down in the liver (it can decrease the effectiveness of the medication but it may also make the effects of a medication stronger).

While the long list of medications includes antidepressants, warfarin, cough and cold medicine, immunosuppressants, oral contraceptives, medication for cancer, heart conditions, and HIV/AIDS, sedatives, blood-thinners, and antibiotics, as well as many herbs and supplements, you should consult your physician and pharmacist before taking it with any medication or supplement.

Taking St. John's wort while you are also taking certain antidepressants (or any substance that raises serotonin) has been associated with serotonin syndrome, a potentially dangerous condition resulting from an excess of serotonin.

Symptoms may include confusion, fever, hallucinations, nausea, loss of muscle coordination, sweating, and shakiness. If you experience any of these symptoms, stop taking St. John’s wort and seek immediate medical attention. Certain supplements (such as 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), L-tryptophan, and SAMe) may also increase serotonin and should be avoided.

St. John’s wort (both oral or topical) can increase the sensitivity of your skin and eyes to sunlight. If you have a condition or are taking medication that increases your skin's sensitivity to sunlight, talk with your doctor to weigh the risks.

In published studies, the most common side effects associated with short-term oral use of St. John’s wort supplements have included mild stomach upset, allergic skin reactions, tiredness, restlessness, anxiety, sexual or erectile dysfunction, dizziness, photosensitivity, vivid dreams, diarrhea, tingling, dry mouth, headache, and liver injury. Psychosis is a rare but possible side effect. Side effects associated with topical use include skin rash.

If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to conceive, or you are taking oral contraceptives, it's important to talk with your doctor before taking St. John's wort.

There is some concern that St. John's wort may worsen symptoms in people with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder (it may bring on mania or speed up the cycling), major depression, schizophrenia (may increase the risk of psychosis), and Alzheimer's disease. It shouldn't be taken by organ transplant recipients.

St. John's wort should not be taken within two weeks before a scheduled surgery. Some sources caution that use of St. John's wort for six months may lead to heart complications in people undergoing surgery with anesthesia.

The Bottom Line

If you or someone you know is living with depression, you may be seeking different options to manage your symptoms. While the research on St. John's wort is promising, it's crucial that you work with your health care provider and discuss whether it's appropriate for you, rather than trying it on your own. Delaying or forgoing standard treatment can have serious consequences. Given the lengthy list of possible drug interactions, it's also important that you tell all of your health care providers and your pharmacist to make sure you're not taking anything that might interact with St. John's wort.


St John’s Wort – to brighten your day

(The HealthPost Naturopaths)

This beautiful bright yellow flower, St John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) is becoming well known for its gentle uplifting, de-stressing, and soothing qualities.

A native to Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa, St John’s Wort is now a very common plant throughout Australia and New Zealand, with some locations referring to it as a noxious weed! St John’s wort can get up to a metre in height and features yellow-star-shaped flowers.

St John’s Wort is thought to have been named in the first century (AD) because it’s usual time for flowering and harvesting was in midsummer in the Northern Hemisphere, during St John’s day (celebrating the day that St John the Baptist was born). St John was symbolic of ‘light’ and so flowers were used as a reminder of the life-giving nature of the sun during festivals of this time celebrating the longest day. The word ‘wort’ was an old English word for plant.

St John’s Wort has been shown to be beneficial during times of stress in supporting the way that the body adapts to these stressors. It can help support a positive mood and help manage mild feelings of anxiety and nervous unrest. This can result in a healthier mental and emotional frame of mind. With the stress of modern life afflicting people in different ways, the support of herbs available to us is a wonderful resource.

St John’s Wort contains many chemical constituents, over 150! But two in particular have been studied extensively for their actions on the nervous system for mood balance. These constituents are hypericin and hyperforin. It has also been acknowledged that the constituents, along with the whole plant create the actions which complements how herbalists understand plant action. Hypericin is a fluorescent red pigment and can pass through the blood-brain barrier. Hyperforin seems to influence various neurotransmitters in the brain. Research continues in to the therapeutic application of St John’s wort.

St John’s wort is available as a loose herb for consuming as a tea. As well as this, it is available in capsule and tablet. For support with relieving nerve pain, wounds and bites, St John’s wort is also available for external topical application.

St John’s Wort can affect the way certain medications work, such as the oral contraceptive pill and antidepressants, so discussing your specific concerns with a qualified health practitioner is of vital importance prior to use.

Higher doses of this plant (over 2000mg) seems to increase the risk of photosensitivity and there isn’t enough information available to confirm whether this plant is safe for use in pregnancy or breastfeeding, so avoidance is advised.


6 Herbs Proven to Help Treat Depression and Anxiety

By Zoe Blarowski

Antidepressant medications are among the most widely prescribed drugs in the world. Possible side effects include impaired sexual function, suicidal thoughts, an increased risk for internal bleeding and potential withdrawal-like symptoms when the drugs are discontinued.

Herbal remedies may provide a more natural way to treat depression and anxiety with less potential side effects. Recent studies have shown the following herbs are some of the best for reducing depression and anxiety.

1. St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum)

A review of various herbal remedies, such as lavender, passionflower and lemon balm, found that St. John’s wort was the only one that was effective for treating depression.

The studies also showed that St. John’s wort had no significant side effects when taken by itself. Although, it can interact negatively when it’s taken with other medications. Speak to your doctor before consuming St. John’s wort to make sure it’s compatible with other pharmaceuticals you might be taking.

St. John’s wort is available in capsules and extracts in most health food stores. The plant is also easy to grow in your own garden. It’s a small shrub hardy to USDA zone 5 that blooms with attractive yellow flowers all summer. You can eat 2 to 4 grams of the dried herb daily or steep it into a tea. Both leaves and flowers are safe to use.

2. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)

An herb traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine, ashwagandha translates to “smell of horse.” This refers to its distinct smell as well as the belief that the herb will give you the strength of a horse.

It is a shrub native to India and North Africa and the roots are used medicinally. Ashwagandha is what’s known as an adaptogen, a plant that can increase your body’s ability to resist the damaging effects of stress and promote healthy physical function.

Various studies have found that ashwagandha is a safe, non-toxic herb that can reduce depression, anxiety and stress responses in your body. Interestingly, it’s also been shown to increase hemoglobin and iron circulating in your blood. This provides more energy to the body in general and could be a factor in improving mood and physiological reactions to stress.

3. Camu Camu (Myrciaria dubia)

This is a shrub native to South America. The berries of camu camu are high in vitamin C and are often sold as a powder, juice or in capsules. They’re not typically eaten fresh because they’re very sour.

Many health benefits are claimed about camu camu, including that it combats depression. Research is still limited, but it’s been proven that camu camu has excellent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. There is a definite link between inflammation in the body and depression, so it would be logical that reducing your inflammation will also help reduce depression.

Currently, no toxic effects of camu camu have been found.

4. Maca (Lepidium meyenii)

Maca is cultivated exclusively at an altitude of 4000-4500 meters (13,100 to 14,700 feet) in the Peruvian Central Andes. It has been used traditionally for its nutritional and medicinal properties. Maca is exported as a powder, flour and liquor, as well as in capsules and extracts.

A few studies have shown that maca acts as an antidepressant in mice and helps to control oxidative stress in the brain. Human trials have also shown improvements in mood and energy when people consume maca. For example, a group of postmenopausal women who received 3.3 grams per day of maca for 6 weeks had significant improvement in depression symptoms compared to women who did not consume maca.

Maca has also been shown to have no apparent toxicity.

5. Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea)

Originally from northern and mountainous regions of Europe and Asia, rhodiola is also an adaptogen like ashwagandha. The root has been proven to reduce stress and fatigue as well as increase mental and physical performance.

An Armenian study found that a rhodiola extract given in either 340 or 680 milligram dosages over 6 weeks had an anti-depressive effect for people with mild to moderate depression. No serious side effects were reported in the study.

6. Kava (Piper methysticum)

Kava is a plant native to the islands of the South Pacific. The roots have long been used to treat insomnia, fatigue and anxiety.

A review of eleven different scientific studies concluded that kava appears to be an effective treatment for anxiety. The studies suggest that kava is relatively safe for short-term treatment of 1 to 24 weeks.

Although, cases of liver damage associated with kava have been reported worldwide. Some experts argue that the connection between kava and liver damage isn’t certain. For instance, some of the reported cases could have been from other drugs the people were taking, or using excessive doses of kava.

Regardless, kava has been banned in countries like the United Kingdom and Germany due to its potential toxicity. If you’re considering taking kava, speak to a health care professional first about any possible side effects, especially if you have any pre-existing liver conditions.


The Mind and Health Benefits of St. John’s Wort

(Healthy Diet Base)

St. John’s wort is a type of perennial plant native to Europe. This herb is prized for its medicinal properties. St. John’s wort contains powerful antiviral and anti-inflammatory agents. It is used to heal a wide range of diseases caused by internal and external inflammation. St. John’s wort is also used to treat a variety of mental disorders, particularly depression. In today’s post, we are listing down the mind and body benefits of St. John’s wort.

Anti-Depressant Treatment

St. John’s wort is traditionally used to treat depression. Depression is a type of mental ailment that affects over 19 million Americans each year. This medical condition is caused by chemical imbalance in the brain, leading to symptoms that include loss of interest, loss of pleasure, melancholy, agitation, loss of energy, and persistent feelings of worthlessness.

The herb contains a rare combination of anti-depressive chemicals that either delay or inhibit the uptake of various neurotransmitters – such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine – that reduces usual symptoms of depression. Anti-depressant drugs cause a variety of discomforts and side effects, which include dry mouth, nausea, headache, loss of sexual drive and disturbed sleep. St. John’s wort treats depression without side effects.

Reduces Anxiety

Anxiety is an intense mental distress caused by inner turmoil exacerbated by feelings of being overwhelmed. This is an emotion accompanied by nervous behaviors – such as pacing back and forth, feelings of imminent death, and agitation – followed by muscular tension, fatigue, restlessness, and worry.

Although there are various anti-anxiety drugs you can take to ease anxiety, St. John’s wort works just as effectively as any drug without the side effects. St. John’s wort helps ease anxiety by improving sleep, boosting cognitive functions, and reducing stress hormone cortisol in the brain. This herb also regulates the brain chemicals, which minimizes anxiety symptoms.

Reduces Menopausal Mood Swings

Mood swings is a term used to describe the rapid and sometimes extreme, change in mood. This condition is common among menopausal women because of the fluctuating hormones. Taking St. John’s wort helps ease mood swings by regulating the hormones. Apart from rebalancing the hormones and regulating mood, St. John’s wort also reduces the severity of cramping and pre-menstrual irritation. Reduces Withdrawal Symptoms

Apart from reducing mental distress, St. John’s wort is also an excellent treatment for withdrawal symptoms caused by addiction. Studies show that the herb reduces cravings after quitting cigarettes, alcohol and addictive substances. It also reduces the side effects of taking addictive drugs. Using St. John’s wort makes it easier for an addict to wean himself or herself off addictive substances.

Stabilize the Hormones

The most common reason for various mental disorders is hormonal imbalance. Apart from regulating the hormones to reduce depression symptoms, St. John’s wort is also an excellent treatment for hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is a condition that affects the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland secretes some of the most important hormones and enzymes that regulate the weight, mood, and metabolism. The herb works by normalizing the flow of hormones from an underactive thyroid gland.


Hypericum Perforatum for Depression – Traditional Herbal Remedy…..

(Health Benefit)

With life gearing up with advances in technologies and increased demands from our scientifically evolving society, depression has become common among people worldwide due to increased stress levels. It is said that at least one among ten adults is found to be depressed, many of whom on anti-depressants or mood elevators and/or psychotherapy.

Several traditional and alternative medical systems worldwide have also recognized and treated depression as a major medical condition understanding its effects on a person’s life physically, mentally, socially and professionally. Hypericum Perforatum is such a herb having neuro-protective and anti-depressant qualities widely used for centuries traditionally to treat depression, sleep disorders and anxiety. This herb also known as St. John’s Wort is indigenous to Europe but later spread worldwide including Turkey, Ukraine, Russia, the Middle East, India and China.

This medication is available in tablets as well as in capsule form. You also get this as a herbal tea as well as a tincture to be taken orally as drops diluted in water. This is also available in combination with other herbs.

Extreme Caution: Even though the packaging comes with the dosage and other required details it is strongly recommended that consultation with a licensed medical practitioner prior to starting these medications is absolutely mandatory as these are highly powerful herbs and can have extremely adverse reactions if not taken correctly in correct doses. Also these are known to react with certain other drugs causing adverse reactions or lessening the effects of other drugs. Even though these medications are readily available across the counter, it is not approved by many medical associations in Britain and the US for the same said reasons.


Hypericum Propagation

(San Fransisco Gate)

The common name St. John's wort (Hypericum spp.) refers to a large group of perennial plants and shrubs grown within U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5B to 10A for their golden yellow flowers and attractive foliage. St. John's wort propagates reliably using both seed-based and vegetative propagation methods. However, the appropriate method depends on which species is being reproduced. Once established, St. John wort is an aggressive growing plant and is considered an invasive species in some parts of the U.S.

Stem Cutting Propagation

Nearly every species and cultivar of St. John's wort will propagate reliably from stem cuttings, making it one of the most common methods of at-home propagation. However, the type of cutting varies according to which type of St. John's wort is being grown. Shrubby varieties propagate best from semi-hardwood cuttings taken in summer, whereas smaller perennial species root best from softwood cuttings taken in spring. Both types of cuttings must be potted in sterile soil and kept irrigated under bright, indirect light. Most will root in three to six weeks.

Division Propagation

Division propagation works best for spreading perennial species of St. John's wort, such as Hypericum calycinum, or Aaron's beard (hardy in USDA zones 5 through 9). The process works best in early spring when the plant is emerging from its winter dormancy. Dig up an established clump and cut the root ball into equal segments, each large enough to fill a quart-sized nursery pot. Pot the divisions into containers with drainage holes and filled with soil, and grow them under light shade during the summer months. Provide ample irrigation during hot weather, but don't overwater them because they are sensitive to soggy conditions.

Seed Propagation

Most non-hybrid varieties of St. John's wort propagate reliably from fresh seed. Seeds can be started year-round in warmer climates, although in areas where frost is common, sown the seeds indoors approximately two to three months before the last spring frost. Seeds germinate best when exposed to light and at a temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Surface sow the seeds and keep the container on a propagation mat under a clear plastic dome. The first seedlings will emerge in approximately one month, if the seeds are kept moist and warm.

Preparation and Transplant

St. John's wort will withstand moderate heat and drought once established, but younger plants need a good head start to survive. No matter which propagation method is used, immature St. John's wort plants must be slowly acclimated, or hardened off, to normal outdoor conditions before transplanting. Keep the plants under sheltered conditions with light shade for two weeks. Expose them to direct sunlight for longer periods each day until they can withstand direct midday sun without wilting. Position their container where they will grow in the garden and leave it there for one week before transplanting.


St. John's Wort, HIV Drugs Don't Mix, Studies Say

(Los Angeles Times)

The popular herbal supplement St. John's wort interferes with essential medications prescribed for people with the AIDS virus and for organ transplant recipients, according to two reports released yesterday.

Based on the finding, the Food and Drug Administration warned against taking the herb and the AIDS drug indinavir together. The agency also urged doctors to learn if their patients are taking St. John's wort, because the herb may diminish several other anti-viral drugs that fight HIV.

A co-author of the report was even more blunt. "Most people taking medications to treat HIV infection should avoid using St. John's wort," said Dr. Judith Falloon, an AIDS specialist at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

In the study, National Institutes of Health researchers found that the herb reduced blood levels of indinavir, or Crixivan, by as much as 80 percent. That could hinder its ability to fight the virus and possibly foster the spread of drug-resistant virus strains.

In the other report, physicians in Zurich, Switzerland, said two heart transplant recipients who were fine for nearly a year began rejecting their donated organ just weeks after they started consuming St. John's wort. The herb appeared to negate the benefits of the cyclosporine drug they were taking to prevent rejection.

Both studies also raise the possibility that St. John's wort may negatively interact with other medications, including the tranquilizer Valium and oral contraceptives. That is because the herb appears to boost the action of particular liver enzymes, known as cytochrome P450, that help break down and eliminate many drugs from the body.

The two reports, appearing in the Lancet medical journal, add to physicians' concerns that some herbal supplements may have unexpected, harmful effects, especially when combined with potent medications.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans take St. John's wort to ease depression and anxiety, a practice that they often hide from their personal physicians, surveys show. And people with HIV tend to consume more herbal products than others do, researchers say.

Unlike drugs, herbal products and other dietary supplements do not undergo rigorous pre-market testing in the United States, leaving some questions about side effects or drug interactions unanswered. Marketers often tout supplements, which the government classifies as foods, as a safe alternative to drugs.

Patients taking an anti-HIV medication are typically advised to avoid a number of other drugs because of adverse interactions. Those drugs include the anti-fungal drug rifampin and the cholesterol-lowering drugs simvastin and lovastatin.

The other HIV drugs that researchers say could be similarly diminished by St. John's wort belong to two broad classes: the protease inhibitors, like indinavir, and the non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors, like delavirdine, or Rescriptor.

Doctors and researchers worldwide have previously reported cases suggesting that St. John's wort can interfere with a variety of medications, lowering blood levels of the anti-clotting drug warfarin and the asthma drug theophylline.

The FDA advisory noted that drugs used to treat heart disease, depression, seizures and certain cancers also may be affected by simultaneous use of St. John's wort.


St. John’s Wort Control: Learn How To Control St. John’s Wort

By Becca Badgett

You may know about St. John’s wort for medicinal purposes such as the relief of anxiety and sleeplessness. When you find it spreading throughout your landscape, however, your main concern will be getting rid of St. John’s wort plants. Information on St. John’s wort says it’s a noxious weed in some areas.

Learning how to control St. John’s wort is a long and tedious process, but may be accomplished through significant effort. When you begin getting rid of St. John’s wort, you’ll want to continue until the weed is completely under control.

About St. John’s Wort

St. John’s Wort weed (Hypericum perforatum), also called goatweed or Klamath weed, like many invasive plants of today was introduced as an ornamental in centuries past. It escaped cultivation in the United States and is now listed as a noxious weed in several states.

Native plants in many ranchlands are forced out by this weed that can be deadly to grazing cattle. Learning how to control St. John’s wort is necessary for ranchers, commercial growers and home gardeners as well.

How to Control St. John’s Wort

St. John’s wort control begins with evaluation of how widespread the weed has become in your landscape or field. Small infestations can be handled manually by digging or pulling St. John’s wort weed. Effective St John’s wort control with this method comes from removing all the roots and getting rid of St. John’s wort before it produces seeds.

It may take weeks or even months of pulling or digging to get rid of St. John’s wort. Burn the weeds after pulling. Don’t burn off the area where St. Johns wort weed is growing though, as this encourages it to spread. Mowing may be a somewhat effective method too, according to info on St. John’s wort control.

For larger areas where manual control is not feasible, you may need to bring in chemicals for St. John’s wort control, such as 2,4-D mixed at 2 quarts per acre.

Insects such as the flea beetle [2] have been successful in getting rid of St. John’s wort in some areas. If you have a substantial problem with this weed on a bigger acreage, talk to your county extension service [3] to learn if insects have been used in your area to discourage the weed.

An important part of control includes learning to recognize the weed and scouting your property on a regular basis to see if it is growing.


The Role of Creeping St. John's Wort

By Marta Santos

St. John's Wort ((Hypericum calycinum), also called creeping St. John's wort, is well-known for its use in alternative medicine, but it plays a beautiful role in the landscape. This low-maintenance ground cover blooms with showy yellow flowers -- five petals with a bottlebrush-style stamin - that complement the medium-green, semiglossy leaves. St. John's Wort thrives in both sun and partial shade and spreads vigorously. Often used on embankments and hillsides, St. John's Wort is green year-round, while its sunny flowers brighten summer days in July and August.

Ground Cover Uses

Although St. John's wort is sometimes included as single specimens in home herb gardens, it is almost always grown as mass plantings. Because it thrives in a variety of soils, handles drought reasonably well and has no significant pest or disease problems, it makes an excellent ground cover choice in many locations. Winter-hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 9, there is some dieback where temperatures regularly dip below freezing. Its abundant yellow flowers make it particularly attractive when planted in groups and allowed to ramble across a hillside.

Cultivation of St. John's Wort

When planted as ground cover, St. John's wort plants should be spaced 18 inches apart for best results. Seeds can be sown either in the spring or in the fall, and seedlings are best planted in the spring after frost danger has passed. Plants spread by aggressive underground runners, so don't plant this in places where it could become invasive. Average, well drained soil is generally all that it needs to thrive. Plants should be lightly mulched during winter months. Ensure St. John's Wort has full sun to partial shade -- if in full shade, it may not flower.

Invasive Properties

Because St. John's wort can become invasive, it should not be planted directly into the ground in home herb gardens. Gardeners who want to include it in their herb collections should grow it in above-ground containers or place it in a pot directly into the ground. However, the runners may escape from drainage holes in the pot and pop up elsewhere in the yard. Ornamental cultivars exist that are not as invasive as the kind that has naturalized in many parts of the Pacific Northwest.

Dangers to Livestock

.St. John's wort contains a toxin known as hypericin that can cause a photosensitizing reaction in light-colored livestock if eaten. Although the condition in generally not fatal in healthy livestock, there is no known cure. Effected animals should be brought out of direct sunlight, and veterinary assistance should be sought if blistering of the skin occurs. Young children and household pets should never be allowed to play in areas where St. Johns' wort is being used as ground cover.


Where to Plant St. John's Wort

By Angela Ryczkowski

Various species of St. John's wort (Hypericum spp.) grow as evergreen or deciduous shrubs or ground covers in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 though 10, depending on the species. Many produce yellow flowers, dark green foliage and have low-growing, spreading habits. Some species are considered invasive in some areas. Even species that are not classified as invasive can spread aggressively when conditions are right.

Site Preferences and Uses

St. John's worts prefer sites in full sun. Although the plants will easily survive in partial shade, flowering may be reduced. These plants are often planted in groups as a ground cover or as edging. Some of the larger species are suitable for low hedges.

Soil Preferences

St. John's worts tolerate a broad range of soil types but perform best in well-draining, sandy soils. Some species of St. John's wort can tolerate occasionally wet soils, but they are generally prone to rots caused by excessive moisture around the roots and plant base.


How to Grow a St. John's Wort Plant

(San Francisco Gate)

A vigorous, low-maintenance perennial, St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum) grows well in most conditions except wet soil. Named “wort,” a term used for healing plants, and “St. John's” because it flowers around St. John the Baptist's birthday on June 24, it is an invasive weed in some areas in the United States. One plant can produce up to 100,000 seeds a year, and seeds remain viable for 10 years. Hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 8, St. John's wort grows 1 to 3 feet tall and 3/4 to 2 feet wide and bears star-shaped, yellow flowers.

1. Grow St. John's wort in full sun or partial shade and in moist, well-drained soil of any kind except very alkaline or salty. Space plants 24 to 36 inches apart, and water regularly so that the soil is constantly moist but not sodden.
2. Remove St. John's wort flowers with pruning shears as they fade and berries before they ripen to prevent seeds forming. Disinfect pruning shears with household disinfectant before and after use. Alternatively, control the St. John's wort's spread by removing seedlings as they appear. Dig seedlings out with a trowel or hoe shallowly around plants, taking care not to disturb plant roots.
3. Prune St. John's wort in early spring with disinfected pruning shears, removing dead, damaged or crossing stems. Prune the plant to the desired shape and to control its size. Disinfect pruning shears again after use.
Things You Will Need
• Pruning shears
• Household disinfectant
• Trowel or hoe (optional)

◘ Tips

Established St. John's wort tolerates some drought, and the plant has no serious disease or pest problems. In hot climates, St. John's wort grows best where it receives afternoon shade.

◘ Warnings

Pruning St. John's wort after early spring prevents the plant from flowering that year. Don't grow St. John's wort where its foliage may be brushed or bruised, such as next to paths, because its leaves release an unpleasant odor.



Herbs for Health: St. John's Wort Research

By Steven Foster

A spate of national publi­city has pushed St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) into position as the most popular me­dicinal herb in the United States. A feature article in the May 5, 1997, issue of Newsweek was followed by a television segment airing June 27, 1997, on ABC’s 20/20. Sales of St. John’s wort products increased so dramatically after the 20/20 report that the products are now in short supply.

In Germany, St. John’s wort already outsells the antidepressant Prozac twenty to one, and some medical analysts have predicted that the herb could become the most widely used antidepressant in the United States within two years.

Much of the current media interest in St. John’s wort stems from a 1996 British Medical Journal report analyzing the results of twenty-three randomized clinical trials involving 1,757 outpatients diagnosed with mild to moderate depression. In fifteen studies, fourteen using St. John’s wort alone and one using a combination product, St. John’s wort was compared with a placebo. Eight trials compared the herb with standard antidepressant drugs. Six of these used St.-John’s-wort alone, and two used a combination product. Overall, side effects were reported in 19.8 percent of patients taking St.-John’s-wort and 52.8 percent taking standard medications. Only 0.8 percent of patients dropped out of the study because of side effects from St. John’s wort, whereas 3 percent of those taking conventional drugs dropped out because of side effects.

The authors concluded that St. John’s wort was significantly better than a placebo and as effective as conventional antidepressant drugs in relieving mild to moderate depression with far fewer and less serious side effects. They recommended further clinical trials comparing St. John’s wort with standard antidepressant drugs to discover the most effective form of extract and work out the optimal dosage.


7 Amazing Benefits Of St. John’s Wort For Skin, Hair And Health

(Gayatri, Style Craze)

Depression can be crippling, preventing the sufferer from living a normal, happy life. Most anti-depressants used to treat this psychological problem come with a plethora of side effects. In such a scenario, it makes sense to turn towards nature to find a cure!

St. John’s Wort is one of the most popular herbs used in Europe and the USA. It is available over-the-counter primarily for treating depression and anxiety. Also known as Hypericum Perforatum, St. John’s Wort also has several health benefits. In fact, many cultures even use this herb to get rid of evil spirits acting on the body!

The extracts of St. John’s wort contain hypericin, which is the sole active compound. Another constituent, hyperforin, also works as an antidepressant. The herb also contains other components like flavonoids and tannins, which too posses several medicinal benefits.

St. John’s Wort Benefits:
• Skin Benefits:

1. Heals Skin:

Skin injuries, burns, and skin irritations caused due to minor cuts can all be cured with the application of St. John’s Wort oil. Creams are also available to treat these problems, but oils work best to give relief. Unfortunately, the oil form of this herb is available only in some selected herbal stores. The antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of this herb work on the skin to offer some relief from these irritating skin conditions. Health Benefits:

St. John’s wort was used by the ancient Greeks to treat a number of health disorders. Even today, it is used extensively to offer relief from:

• Health Benefits:

St. John’s wort was used by the ancient Greeks to treat a number of health disorders. Even today, it is used extensively to offer relief from:

2. Depression:

Research and studies in European countries have found that St. John’s wort works as a great herbal alternative to chemical laden anti-depressants. It can be used to treat mild to moderate depression. It has fewer side effects than many other antidepressants and that is what makes it so popular in countries like USA. But it is important to remember that if you are suffering from acute depression, it is always better to seek medical advise before self medicating.

3. Anxiety:

Some studies have indicated that St. John’s wort can offer relief from anxiety. Research is still in nascent stage, though people already vouch for this herb’s anxiety curing abilities.

4. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD):

People suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD are often the ones dealing with anxiety. Often the butt of jokes, OCD sufferers rarely get their day out in the sun. St. John’s Wort does offer some relief from OCD symptoms but they are negligible.

5. Ear Pain:

Ear infections (otitis media) that cause ear pain can be cured with the use of St. John’s wort. One study involving 100 children proved that a combination of garlic, St. John’s wort, calendula and mullein can work as an effective herbal solution to provide relief from ear pain.

6. Smoking Cessation:

Smoking is a bad habit—almost everyone knows that. But quitting is another ball game altogether! One of the most promising uses of St. John’s wort is that it can be used to help one quit smoking. Studies are under way to give all those smokers looking to quit the habit a ray of hope.

7. Other Conditions:

St. John’s wort is also recommended for conditions with psychological symptoms such as menopausal symptoms, insomnia, premenstrual syndrome, attention deficit disorder and seasonal effective disorder.

A Word of Caution:

Though not as extensive as the side effects that come with the use of anti-depressants, St. John’s herb does cause some negative effects. These include:

• Skin allergy
• Stomach upset
• Headache
• Sexual/erectile dysfunction
• Restlessness
• Dizziness
• Dry mouth
• Hair Fall

Long term usage may cause over sweating and shakiness, fever, nausea, hallucinations, loss of muscle coordination, confusion etc are some of the side effects of St. John’s wort.

Never replace this St.John’s Wort with any OTC self medication. Always consult your doctor before you start using any alternative form of medicine, including St. John’s wort. Once you get an all clear from your doctor, you can go ahead and enjoy the various benefits this herb offers!


The 5 Best Herbs to Soothe Your Nerves

By Michelle Schoffro Cook

Forget frazzled nerves, anxiety, restlessness, nerve-related headaches and pain. Herbs really shine when it comes to soothing nerves. Here are five of my picks for the best nerve-soothing herbs:

Feverfew for Migraines and Headaches

This delicate flowering plant contains potent medicine, particularly when it comes to soothing the nervous system. Perhaps that is why it has been in use for over two thousand years, when Greek physician Dioscorides recommended feverfew for inflammation. Since then we’ve learned a lot about feverfew’s many other healing properties and its effects on the nervous system.

Feverfew is an excellent headache and migraine remedy. If you’ve taken it when you’ve had a migraine and found that it didn’t work for you rest assured that it will work when used correctly. Feverfew doesn’t work in the same way as headache and migraine drugs—at the first sign of pain. Rather, the best way to take feverfew is daily over the course of a month to prevent headaches and migraines the following month. Research published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews concluded that feverfew can reduce the prevalence of migraines.

Feverfew for Neuropathy

If you’re suffering from neuropathy pain, which is a general term to describe disorders of the nervous system that cause pain, weakness and numbness, you’ll be happy to learn that feverfew has been found effective for this set of conditions. In a study published in the journal Phytomedicine, researchers found that feverfew was as effective as the drug gapapentin (an anti-epileptic drug used in the treatment of neuropathic pain). Steep one teaspoon of the dried herb (leaves, flowers, and stems) in one cup of boiled water for 10 minutes. Drink three cups daily.

Nettles to Block Pain Signals

Nettles, or stinging nettles, as the plant is also called due to its fine hairs that impart a stinging sensation, have been found to interfere with pain signals transmitted through the nervous system, thereby reducing seemingly unrelated types of pain. In a study of nettles on osteoarthritis pain, researchers found that nettles reduced pain linked to the disease. Study participants also found that they needed fewer anti-inflammatory pharmaceutical drugs while taking nettles. Of course, you should consult your physician prior to reducing prescriptions. Dried nettles can be made into tea or added to soups and stews.

Sage to Ease Stress and Balance Moods

While sage is increasingly known for its brain health and memory-boosting effects, this potent herb also plays a critical role in balancing moods. It appears to work by inhibiting an enzyme that breaks down the essential brain hormone known as acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is needed for mood regulation as well as many other brain and bodily functions. Drinking a few cups of sage tea on a daily basis may be just what you need to soothe your nerves and ease stress. Avoid using sage if you suffer from migraines.

St. John’s Wort to Alleviate Anxiety

While there are many excellent studies proving the effectiveness of St. John’s Wort against depression, few people realize that this lovely flowering herb can be used as a natural antianxiety medicine. Research published in the journal Phytotherapy Research found that the herb was effective in the treatment of anxiety. Use one teaspoon of dried flowers from this plant steeped in one cup of boiled water and drink three times daily to take advantage of St. John’s Wort’s antianxiety effects. Alternatively, take a tincture and follow package directions.

Valerian for Restlessness, Hyperactivity and Anxiety

Valerian root has long been used for its antianxiety effects. Newer research shows that its potent antianxiety effects may be attributed at least in part to the compound valerenic acid. Other research shows that this powerful natural medicine taken in combination with lemon balm was helpful to reduce restlessness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness in elementary school children after seven weeks of treatment with the herbs. Valerian is best taken in tincture format. Follow package instructions. For children use an alcohol-free extract known as a glycerite.

Consult your physician prior to using these herbs if you are suffering from any serious health condition or taking any pharmaceutical drugs.


St. John's Wort and Depression

By Dale Archer M.D. (Reading Between the (Head)Lines)

Is St. John's wort a safe, effective alternative to medication for depression?

St. John's wort is a natural, herbal medicine that is reported to treat depression. The psychiatric history of this plant goes all the way back to ancient Greece where it was used to treat “nervous conditions”. Over the years it’s been reported to help PMS, menopause, anxiety, SAD and even OCD.

The mechanism of action for St. John's wort is not clear, but the therapeutic ingredients are thought to include hypericin, pseudohypericin and various xanthones. It is believed these chemicals elevate dopamine and serotonin levels in the brain, much the same as traditional antidepressants.

St. John's wort is an invasive weed with yellow flowers found throughout the US. It rapidly grows and spreads, often overtaking other nearby plant life. Since its “natural” and an herb, if it works it must be all good. Right? Let's take a look:

Cochrane Researchers studied the results of 29 trials which involved 5,489 patients with major depression. In these studies, St. John's wort was compared to standard antidepressants. St. John's wort was found to be just as effective and participants were less likely to drop out because of adverse effects.

Researchers were quick to issue warnings, however, about the risk of adverse reactions when the herb was used other drugs and also stated, "using a St. Johns wort extract might be justified, but products on the market vary considerably, so these results only apply to the preparations tested."

The Cleveland Clinic reviewed over 30 clinical studies over the past 22 years and concluded that St. John's wort is effective in treating mild depression, but was no better than placebo for moderate or severe depression. Even the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) indicates St. John's wort is no better than placebo when treating major depression.

OK, so let’s say it works about as well as a standard antidepressant on mild depression. What about the downside?

The usual dosage of St. John's wort is 300 mg, three times a day. But, since herbal supplements are not regulated by the FDA, the actual dose and the amount of active ingredients can vary. Also, there are dozens of manufacturers and it can be steeped as a tea, taken as a pill or used as a liquid, which makes accurate dosing even more problematic.

Even worse, it’s not FDA approved for quality, safety or purity. It is very possible for St. John's wort or any other herbal supplement to be contaminated with other drugs or even toxic metals, so it should only be purchased from a reliable source. This supplement, produced under many brand names, is one of the top selling herbal supplements in the US and this begs the question what is a reliable source?

But, being “all natural” certainly must be better than a “man-made” drug, right? Clearly if something is “natural”, then it's good, pure, healthy and just plain better. When we think of natural herbs, we relate that to a natural balance, using Mother Earth to naturally treat ailments.

We consider herbal supplements to be free of toxins, pesticides and scary ingredients that no one knows how to pronounce. We think of the plant growing in its natural state, not a pharmaceutical-created pill. Natural. It sounds wholesome and pure, and the word spoken just sounds so positive.

That's not always the case. Consider cobra venom, puffer fish toxin, many types of mushrooms, oleander, crude oil, cyanide and arsenic. All are all highly toxic and may be fatal, and yet they occur naturally, in nature. Just because something is natural doesn't mean it's good or should be blindly swallowed.

G. E. Moore, a philosopher (1873-1958) said it was a mistake to define "good" in terms of "natural" properties. Claiming this was a fallacy, he coined the phrase naturalistic fallacy. Simply put, "good" cannot be defined simply. To attempt to define good based on the connotation of “natural” or any other word for that matter, is illogical.

Is a natural herb really safer than a pharmaceutical? The FDA is dedicated to regulating both medications and their manufacturers. They often are criticized for moving too slowly when approving new drugs, but safety is a major concern, and that takes time. When you take a medication, you know what you're getting and know it was extensively studied and researched before approval. The herbal supplement has no such regulation or extensive testing. It's take at your own risk.

In addition, St. John's wort has a host of interactions with other drugs. So much so, that France has banned the use of St. John's wort in all products and warnings of herb-drug interactions are listed in Japan, the UK and Canada, but not the US.

Many times, the bottom line relates to cost. Everything is becoming more expensive, and medication -- even generic -- is no exception. With the burden of rising health care costs, alternative treatments are being explored. Comparing the cost of a brand name med to the cost of St. John's wort is informative. No doubt newer, non-generic meds are much more expensive, some costing hundreds of dollars a month, while 180 pills of Nature's Way St. John's wort sells for $9.99. But, older generic antidepressants are filled at some national chains for under $10 per month, so price should not really be an issue.

OK, so assuming you have found a trusted supplier, have talked to your doctor about any herb-drug interactions and are suffering from mild depression. Then St. John's wort may be worth a try. But, and this is a big BUT, mild to moderate depression is the very depression that responds best to psychotherapy. And, if you really want to be “all natural” then psychotherapy is clearly superior to popping a pill.



Natural remedies: Sleep, digestion and mental wellbeing

By Peter McGuire
Sleep

We’re in a sleep crisis. Long and busy days, too many screens, not enough sunlight, staying up too late, getting up too early and, of course, stress: they’re all throwing our sleep patterns out of synch.

In 2014, a study by scientists at Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard and other universities warned that a lack of sleep was leading to serious health issues including cancer, obesity and diabetes.

Of all the over-the-counter herbal remedies, sleeping aids are perhaps the most common, with products such as Nytol, A Vogel Dormeasan Sleep and Melissa Dream available in most pharmacies. Many contain hops, valerian, lavender, lemon balm and chamomile, all herbs which are traditionally associated with sleep and calm. Many herbalists will also place them into herbal teas.

A scan of the National Folklore Collection (NFC) shows there’s not a huge amount of information about remedies for sleep problems. This isn’t really surprising: people didn’t have electricity, lives were calmer and we didn’t spend our days in front of screens. We went to bed when it got dark and got up when it was bright.

A few sprigs of fresh lavender have long been used as a sleep remedy; now, many sleep balms are infused with lavender. Pine needles under the pillow are also recommended from one account collected in Cork.

Another piece of advice found in the NFC is for people to drink milk which is boiled with an onion. We now know that both contain L-tryptophan which could help us get to sleep faster, but only in fairly large doses. So the effect here may be psychological.

A 2005 study, published in the Journal of Sleep, found some evidence that hops and valerian combined could lead to modest sleep improvements. Research has shown that lavender does indeed have calming effects. But while chamomile is the famous sleep herb of all, there’s very little evidence to show that it can induce sleep; it won’t do any harm but its benefits may be psychological.

One cure, found in the NFC and unearthed by Trinity PhD candidate Fiona Shannon, advises people with a cold to put an onion in a stocking, wrap it around their neck and go to sleep. It sounds odd, but the key point may not be the onion, says Shannon: it is the ritual and, even more so, the rest that makes the difference to our health.

Digestion

Nobody really wants to talk about farts ( Editor’s note: But it seems everyone wants to read about them. How much should a healthy person fart , October 15th, 2016, featured in the Most Read articles that week.). But flatulence is just one of the many digestive problems that beset us, along with blocked and loose bowels, chronic constipation, indigestion and heartburn.

When it comes to digestion, there are certain red flags which mean a visit to a medical doctor, not a herbalist, is needed. These include rectal bleeding; major and persistent changes in bowel habits; sudden and unexpected weight loss; difficulty in swallowing; persistent appetite change; and persistent and increasing stomach pain or heartburn.

But for mild cases of discomfort, fennel seeds are a digestive aid for reducing flatulence: just nibble a few after eating. Peppermint tea is also a digestive aid, while ginger has long been used to alleviate nausea.

Fiann Ó Nualláin, herbalist, gardener and author of The Holistic Gardener: Natural Cures for Common Ailments, says that bitters including dandelion help digestion. He also suggests apple, grapes and pineapple, as well as green tea. Other carminative herbs (which reduce bloating and flatulence) include basil, chamomile, mint, lemon balm and yarrow. Most herbalists will also recommend garlic and a probiotic live yogurt. For heartburn, liquorice and peppermint are often used. Aloe vera juice is becoming popular but there’s limited evidence for its effectiveness and it can have side effects that include cramps and diarrhoea.

In the NFC, ginger and cardamom appear regularly for indigestion or stomach spasms. Bread soda, mixed with a cup of cold water, is cited as a cure for heartburn across all parts of Ireland. Dandelion is included as a cure for indigestion and as an aid for digestion, as is stewed yarrow. Chamomile, watercress and nettles (boiled and eaten, or the juice drunk) and the juice of boiled blackberry leaves are listed for “bad stomach”. And for constipation, a cure that seems to make some sense: “ a strong infusion of senna leaves, add prunes . . . put in a glass jar . . . a few eaten during the day will suffice to cure obstinate cases of constipation.”

Wellbeing and mental health

St John’s Wort is one of the most well-known of the regulated herbs. There is evidence that its active ingredient, hypericum, can help treat mild to major depression.

According to Dr Dilis Clare, it is “extremely safe” for anyone who is not taking any medication. “It uses the same enzymes in its metabolism as some other drugs do. If a person is not on any drugs, they can take it; I would give it to children and to old people.”

Hypericum can react negatively with more than 50 per cent of prescribed drugs. But, says Clare, those who are not on prescription medication can take it.

A 2008 Cochrane review – the gold standard in reviews of health evidence – looked at a number of studies and found that hypericum extracts were “superior to placebo in patients with major depression, similarly effective as standard antidepressants and with fewer side effects than [them] .”

St John’s Wort is now available only on prescription in Ireland, although it is still available over the counter in Northern Ireland.

Herbs may also have a valuable placebo effect. Placebos are proving effective in treating depression and anxiety – there’s evidence that placebos bring about physical changes in the body and that the experience of receiving medical care – whether that’s from a herbalist or a GP – seems to make us feel better, and to help alleviate anxiety and depression.

Beware anyone claiming that a particular herb can “cure” depression, stress or anxiety. Beware anyone making big claims for herbs as a miracle cure for depression and don’t automatically believe studies that have been commissioned by a company trying to sell you the very same herb.

Herbs can offer gentle support and comfort, although anyone on anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medications should consult their doctor or pharmacist before taking herbs; while they can be perfectly safe to use, they can also interact with prescribed medicines.

The US National Centre for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), a federally funded agency, warns against self-medication with herbs as a replacement for seeing your doctor, pointing out that inadequately treated depression can become severe.

“Some people have their stress and survival mechanisms permanently switched on,” says Clare. “Sometimes it is about getting a person to stop looking out for the bull in the field, and herbs can help with this.

“There’s no one relaxing, magic herb,” says Clare. “But different herbs have a range of actions to help relax with few side effects.”

There is scant clinical research on herbs and much of what is taken is based on traditional use, anecdotal reports and science’s current understanding of their chemical properties. Herbs ordered over the internet can be wrongly labelled and may contain poisons. Anyone with a medical condition should consult their doctor before taking a herbal remedy, as herbs can interact with prescribed medications.


Benefits and side-effects of herbal medicines'

By Altaf Patel (Mumbai Mirror)

It's herbal, therefore it's safe, is far off the truth. There's no magic pill to cure ailments.

I don't belittle medicines that I don't have the knowledge of, and I am always interested in patients who find relief from an alternative branch of medicine. One of the reasons being, I attempt to understand how a particular medication has helped.

However, the one thing that I'm skeptical about, and which I dissuade my patients from following, is metal therapy. I have seen people suffering from kidney failures, and a few even expiring, so that's one `therapy' that I wouldn't advise anyone to follow.

Several of my patients often ask me about the benefits/side-effects of herbal medicines. Let me tell you, herbal treatment is not alien to doctors practicing allopathy. I'll give you an example.

There is a medication called Sarpagandha (Rauvolfia serpentia, or the Indian snakeroot). It is a species of a flowering plant in the family Apocynaceae, and the extracts of this plant has a compound called reserpine, which is used in anti-hypertensive medications. It is said that Mahatma Gandhi used reserpine as a tranquiliser.

I have in the past used this compound to treat patients (it has now been replaced by better medications). The point I'm trying to make is, such compounds cannot be simply called herbal medication. Rather, they should be termed `integrative medicine', the interface between herbs and allopathy.

Simply put, herbal medicines are compounds extracted from herbs. They have been in existence since ancient times. It is worth noting that 25% of the medical molecules available in the US have their origins in herbs, and at least 7,000 medical compounds have their origins in plants. Modern molecules such as quinine, aspirin and digitalis -the latter is derived from foxgloves and used to treat heart failure -come from herbal parenthood.

The extracts of several herbs are put into capsules and claimed that the tablets will act on the body the same way as the natural substance. This may not be true.

Among the herbs available in tablet form, and prescribed fairly often, is the St John's-wort, which is hypericum perforatum, a flowering plant in the family Hypericaceae, a medicinal herb with antidepressant activity, and potent anti-inflammatory properties. Till a few years ago, the general perception was that the medication being herbal, it was wellsuited to treat such conditions in pregnant women, where pharmacological molecules may be contraindicated because of their effects on the foetus. This, however, does not appear to be correct.

There have been several concerns about using St John's-wort, and it appears that it does interfere with some of the allopathic medications.

Another interesting herb which I have come across is Ma huang, which is known in English as ephedra. It is a medicinal preparation from the plant Ephedra sinica, and is widely used by athletes as a performance-enhancing drug, and also for weight loss. In recent years, ephedra-containing supplements have been found to be unsafe, following which the US Food and Drug Administration banned it.

Then there is the hugely popular Malabar tamarind, or GARCINIA CAMBOGIA, a weight loss supplement that people from across the country vouch for. It is also said to stabilise blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

The Journal of Obesity in 2011 reviewed it, and said that people who used it did lose about 2lbs (about 0.9 kg) more compared to those who didn't. In 2009, the FDA had cautioned the doctors against its usage because of liver problems, but it couldn't be established that the medication caused such ailments.

A study in food and chemical toxicology stated that high doses of the herb can cause testicular atrophy. Anecdotal experiences do suggest it to be useful in weight loss but medical literature is sparse on the subject, and I will not comment on it.

People willing to spend a lot of money on the `miracle pill' for weight loss, but they don't want to exercise or control their diet. As a result, the search for such a pill continues. The fact that it's herbal, therefore it's safe, is far off the truth.

One must remember that many medicinal molecules are derived from herbs, and when they become pharmacological, they are subject to extensive scrutiny by various organisations. Herbal medicines come under the umbrella of nutraceuticals, and there is an impression that all of them are safe for consumption, which may not be true. One must remember that the philosopher Socrates was put to death by making him drink a liquid derived from herbs.


The Complex Relationship between Depression, Diabetes, and St. Johns Wort

By Jeannette Y. Wick, RPh, MBA, FASCP

Patients who have type 2 diabetes are at elevated risk for developing depression, and vice versa. They sometimes self-treat with St. John’s Wort, an herbal antidepressant with an SSRI-like effect. St. John’s Wort has a hyperforin constituent—a distinct section of its molecular structure and phytochemical—that induces CYP3A4. St. John’s Wort is also a pregnane X receptor (PXR) agonist. It activates the PXR receptor and p-glycoprotein, and alters many other medications' pharmacokinetics. This is noteworthy because around 30% of drugs metabolized by the liver depend on the PRX receptor.

Now, an article published in Basic and Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology indicates that long-term use of St. John’s Wort persistently inhibits insulin secretion in young healthy men. This is surprising since PXR agonists often enhance glucose metabolism when administered with metformin.

Ten fasting men who had no history of deranged glucose metabolism received the maximum allowable dose of St. John’s Wort (240 to 294 mg dry extract of SJW and 900 mcg total hypericin) twice daily for 21 days. They underwent an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) at baseline, after 21 days of St. John’s Wort exposure, and 6 weeks after treatment cessation. The researchers did not control for diet or physical activity levels.

All patients developed beta cell inhibition, and was still present 6 weeks after treatment cessation. Glucose tolerance, measured as area-under-the-curve (AUC) and 2-hour glucose—indicated that participants' beta cells were affected. Participants’ glucose AUC increased by 34% and the 2-hour glucose increased by 27 mg/dL.

Total insulin was not affected in a statistically significant way.

The study has inadequate power to detect changes in insulin sensitivity. A previous study found that rifampicin, another PXR agonist, has a similar effect on OGTT.

Recent studies have shown that combining a PXR agonist with metformin improves glucose tolerance by increasing metformin transport and subsequent beta-cell function. The authors indicate that this seemingly positive effect may outweigh the negative effect they identified in this study when patients received only St. John’s Wort.

Because of St. John’s Wort’s untoward effect on hormonal contraceptives, the researchers excluded women in this study. They also excluded patients with chronic or daily alcohol abuse, known liver disease, known hypersensitivity to St. John’s Wort, or use of systemic prescription medications.

The researchers concluded that St. John’s Wort produces persistent glucose intolerance via decreased beta-cell function. St. John’s Wort may increase risk of type 2 diabetes in the already at-risk depressed population.


Is St. John’s Wort Safe?

By Ann Pietrangelo

Natural herbs like St. John’s wort are appealing, but experts warn they may cause unpleasant side effects or even dangerous drug interactions.

St. John’s wort is natural. It’s an herbal supplement that doesn’t require a prescription and you can buy it at a health food store.

Sounds good, but that doesn’t necessarily make it harmless, according to a new study published in the journal Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology.

Researchers at the University of Adelaide compared adverse events of St. John’s wort and the antidepressant drug fluoxetine (Prozac). The team used information from doctors’ reports to Australia’s national agency on drug safety.

Between 2000 and 2013, there were 84 adverse reaction reports for St. John’s wort. There were 447 reports for Prozac. Since reporting adverse events is voluntary, researchers said it’s likely that adverse events are underreported.

Side effects of the two substances are similar. They include vomiting, dizziness, anxiety, panic attacks, aggression, and amnesia. There are also serious concerns about drug interactions.

The Benefits of St. John’s Wort

St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) is a flowering plant.

The flowers are used to make liquid extracts, pills, and teas. The popular herbal therapy is often used to ease symptoms of depression. People have been using St. John’s wort for centuries.

A Cochrane systematic review found that St. John’s wort can be effective in treating major depression. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved it for that purpose.

Licensed naturopathic physician Jeremy Wolf explained that St. John’s wort creates many actions in the body.

“It is a strong antidepressant and may elevate mood in individuals with mild to moderate depression,” he said.

He notes that St. John’s wort is not recommended for individuals with severe depression.

Wolf said St. John’s wort also has strong antiviral activity that may also promote healing and repair of wounds.

He cautioned that the herb is not a fast-acting cure. It may take weeks or months before you notice any effect.

How much St. John’s wort should you take?

Blair Green Thielemier, PharmD, told Healthline that dosing varies due to non-standardized manufacturing.

A normal dose range would be anywhere from 300 to 1200 mg a day. It’s usually taken in divided doses (300 mg three times daily or 600 mg twice daily).

The Downside of St. John’s Wort

FDA regulations for dietary supplements are not the same as those for drug products. Unless there's a new dietary ingredient, a firm doesn't have to provide FDA with the evidence it relies on to substantiate safety or effectiveness before or after it markets its products.

“Natural" doesn’t mean it can’t cause harm, said Thielemier.

The main concerns about the herb center on the metabolic pathway known as cytochrome 450. She explained that this pathway consists of the enzymes our body uses to clear drugs and ingested chemicals from the bloodstream.

“These enzymes are responsible for breaking down everything from the glass of wine you may have with dinner to a daily vitamin you take to keep your bones strong,” said Thielemier.

Other substances can influence these enzymes.

“If you have ever heard that grapefruit juice can interfere with your medications, then you know of this process we call enzyme induction,” said Thielemier. “St. John's wort, like grapefruit juice, induces the body to produce more of these enzymes in order to clear the chemical from the bloodstream [faster].”

That can rob other medications of their power.

Wolf suggests the herb may work similarly to fluoxetine. If it inhibits the reuptake of serotonin, it would explain the similar side effects.

It also interacts with many common pharmaceuticals.

“When combined with SSRIs [selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors] and MAO [monoamine oxidase] inhibitors, it may lead to elevated blood pressure and could induce what is known as serotonin syndrome,” said Wolf. “This includes confusion, fever, agitation, rapid heart rate, shivering, perspiration, diarrhea, and muscle spasms.”

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, in addition to antidepressants, St. John’s wort interacts with oral contraceptives, anti-seizure medications, and anticoagulants. It can also interfere with anti-rejection medications, heart medications, and some drugs used for heart disease, HIV, and cancer.

Wolf noted that pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid St. John’s wort. So should people who are sensitive to sunlight, as the herb can intensify the effect.

Regulation Process Not the Same as Drugs

Should natural and herbal products include warnings and go through the same rigorous testing as prescription drugs?

Thielemier thinks so.

“How else will we know whether they are safe and effective? The problem lies in the insane costs of proving safety and efficacy through clinical trials,” she said.

“I always advise individuals and remind them of the importance in checking with their healthcare provider or a trained practitioner before starting supplements and herbs due to the potential for side effects and interactions,” said Wolf.


Weekly Dose: St John’s Wort, the flower that can treat depression

By Joanna Harnett

St John’s Wort, botanical name Hypericum perforatum, is considered a weed in temperate climates outside its native homelands of Europe, Asia and North Africa. The flowering tops and aerial parts of the plant are used medicinally in the form of tinctures and tablets to treat a number of conditions affecting the nervous and immune systems.

Records of the medicinal use of St John’s Wort date back to ancient Greece. It is believed Dioscorides and Hippocrates used it to cleanse the body of evil spirits. Since the times of the Swiss physician and botanist Paracelsus (1493-1541), St John’s Wort has traditionally been used to treat nerve pain, anxiety, neurosis and depression and externally for bruises, wounds and shingles.

Weekly Dose of St. John's Wort
How is it used today?

In modern times, St John’s Wort has been shown to be as effective as placebo and standard antidepressants in the treatment of mild to moderate depression.

In Australia, St John’s Wort is mainly purchased through pharmacies and health food stores with or without the guidance of a health-care professional.

The St John’s Wort products vary in the amount of key constituents they contain. Only a few products actually match what was trialled in the studies with positive clinical outcomes. Variations in the active constituent content will affect the strength and effectiveness of the medicine and its possible safety.

It has become more common for complementary medicine manufacturers to include a standardised amount of the herb constituents on the label. The daily dose range for total hypericin content is 0.75mg to 2.7mg of hypericin daily. The published studies generally used standardised extracts to contain 0.3% hypericin and 2-5% hyperforin.

In 2000, St John’s Wort made up 25% of all antidepressant prescriptions in Europe. A more recent Australian study reported 4.3% or 17,780 patients who had visited a GP for depression had taken or were taking St John’s Wort.

How does it work?

St John’s Wort has been reported as containing many constituents and demonstrating multiple and simultaneous mechanisms of action.

While individual key constituents have been identified as hypericin (a naturally occurring substance with a few different applications including antidepressive), pseudohypericin and hyperforin (a phytochemical produced in some plants), collectively they exert a number of pharmacological effects including antidepressant activity.

The hypericin and flavonoids (namely hyperforin) and other flavonoid molecules that are found in some fruits and vegetables are thought to play a role in exerting an antidepressant effect by altering nerve chemical messengers known as neurotransmitters. It is considered important available products contain standardised amounts of these components.

St John’s Wort has been shown in non-human studies to assist in keeping the circulating levels of four key neurotransmitters (serotonin, noradrenaline, dopamine and gamma-aminobutyric acid) at levels that improve depressive symptoms.

This is a very distinctive feature of St John’s Wort. No other drug has been demonstrated to affect all four of these chemical messengers with similar potencies. Studies comparing the effectiveness of St John’s Wort with different classes of other anti-depressants that target these neurotransmitters support the proposed multi-targeted mechanism of action of St John’s Wort.

Antidepressants Citalopram (Celexa) and Sertraline (Zoloft) belong to a class of antidepressants known as selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These block the reabsorption of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain, making more serotonin available to assist the brain cells to send and receive chemical messages. This in turn boosts mood.

A high-standard systematic review conducted in 2009 concluded St John’s Wort extract was superior to placebo in patients with major depression and similarly effective to standard treatment with SSRIs. They also found fewer people taking St John’s Wort discontinued their treatment. This was due to them experiencing fewer side effects.

The same review also found no significant difference in the effectiveness of St John’s Wort and the older class of antidepressants known as “tri-cyclic”. These work by blocking the absorption of serotonin to improve their availability for sending and receiving chemical messages that improve our mood.

St John’s Wort was reported as more effective in German studies compared to those in non-European-based populations, but it is thought these results were over-optimistic.

Safety and side-effects

Like standard antidepressants, it may take up to four weeks to judge how effective St John’s Wort has been. It is generally well tolerated, but adverse effects may occur. These include mild gastrointestinal symptoms, skin reactions, increased sensitivity to sunlight, fatigue, sedation, restlessness, dizziness, headache and dry mouth.

St John’s Wort affects enzymes in the gastrointestinal tract and liver that are involved in drug metabolism. It can reduce how much of a drug is available in the body by reducing how much is absorbed and excreted. Therefore the potential effectiveness of many drugs can be limited.

This includes drugs used to treat serious conditions such as AIDs, cancer and epilepsy. St John’s Wort can also reduce the effectiveness of the oral contraceptive pill. It should not be taken along with standard antidepressant drugs.

Anyone suspecting they may have symptoms of depression should consult their doctor to ensure a correct diagnosis is made. The use of St John’s Wort should be guided by a health-care professional who is knowledgeable about the quality of available products, effective dosing and safety considerations, including known drug interactions associated with its use.



Your health: St John's Wort and the Pill

By Sandra Clair

"I liked your column last week and want to try plant medicine. I'm stressed and have low moods. Can I take St. John’s Wort? I take the pill and have heard some conflicting information."

The safety of St. John's Wort is a very topical question as it is one of the most used medicinal plants worldwide. In European countries it is available as a prescription medicine and outsells pharmaceutical anti-depressants.

Numerous studies have shown that it is equivalent in effectiveness to synthetic selective serontoin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) in mild to moderate depression but has a better safety profile and is very well tolerated. Nevertheless, this herb has had a lot of attention due to its alleged ability to interact with pharmaceutical medication.

One of the most common concerns that people have is if it is OK to take St. John's Wort alongside other medication, such as the oral contraceptive pill. Considering that millions of people worldwide take St. John's Wort, many of them women on the Pill, reports of actual herb-drug interactions and side effects are very rare.

Many of the initial and even current concerns raised were based on theoretical considerations, test tube experiments or studies that used chemically purified single constituents of St.

John's Wort instead of testing the whole plant in real people.

Interestingly, the herb-drug interaction issue only became prominent in the late 1990's, when some German manufacturers artificially stabilised and concentrated the hyperforin content of their St. John's Wort tablets, as they believed that this active constituent was responsible for the anti-depressant action. All other remedies did not any show herb-drug interactions.

High levels of hyperforin can induce cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes, a detoxification system which the journal Science nicknamed the 'garbage disposal' system of the liver and small intestine.

The job of these enzymes is to protect the body against toxins and xenobiotics - that's a good thing! However, they also clear out certain synthetic drugs with a therapeutic narrow window faster than intended, which leads to lower blood concentrations of the drug and compromises its efficacy.

Hyperforin is a constituent which degrades quickly, and the amount needed to induce the P450 enzyme pathways are not found in traditional preparations such as medicinal teas or ethanol extracts used in oral liquids. There is also no interaction between a topical formulation, for example a herbal cream or oil containing St. John's Wort and a pharmaceutical drug.

It is the type of preparation (standardised tablet versus traditional tea or liquid), the dosage, and the concentration of hyperforin that will determine if the St. John's Wort remedy has herb-drug interaction potential or not. Scientific studies confirmed that there are not safety concerns in remedies with less than 3.5mg of hyperforin, which means that they can be safely taken in conjunction with pharmaceutical drugs.

Because reliable contraception is crucial for the peace of mind of many women, further scientific studies were undertaken to test contraceptive cover in women who took concurrently the Pill and St. John's Wort.

They established that St John's Wort does not change hormonal levels or reduce the effectiveness of the Pill, meaning that all women in the trials maintained full protection when taking a low-dose pill and St John's Wort together. However, there was a higher rate of breakthrough bleeding in the St. John's Wort groups. Women should always take their pill, even if breakthrough bleeding occurs. There is no evidence of a mass outbreak of unwanted pregnancies in women taking St John's Wort.

In March of 2014, Medsafe New Zealand confirmed that St John's Wort, which is low in hyperforin is unlikely to produce interactions. The Swiss government made the same declaration in 2002.

Unfortunately, Medsafe also stated that "...most products contain 3 per cent [this should have said 3mg] hyperforin", however this is not the case in the New Zealand market.

Registered medical herbalists are well versed in the safe use of St. John's Wort and can be contacted via the official website of the New Zealand Association of Medical Herbalists.

St John's Wort is one of the most widely used and researched herbs in the world. As a traditional preparation, it has an excellent safety and efficacy record. You can feel confident using this stress relieving, energising and uplifting herb, even when you are on the Pill.


Is St. John's Wort Safe During Pregnancy?

Source:https://www.verywell.com/is-st-johns-wort-safe-during-pregnancy-1066690
By Nancy Schimelpfening

Question: Is St. John's Wort a safe alternative to prescription medications during pregnancy?

Answer: Right now it's simply not known if the herbal antidepressant St. John's wort, also known as Hypericum perforatum, is safe during pregnancy. The data that are available are from in vitro studies (those performed outside a living animal, for example, in a test tube), animal studies, or isolated case reports of women who took it during pregnancy.

Some in vitro studies have shown genetic damage to mammalian cell lines exposed to high Hypericum extract concentrations. Others have shown impaired sperm motility, decreased sperm penetration of the egg, and denaturation of sperm DNA with exposure to very high concentrations of Hypericum extract.

Two controlled trials in mice demonstrated a significant reduction in birth weight of mice exposed to St. John's wort in the uterus, but no difference in neurobehavioral development or reproductive capacity. Another similar study in rats showed that female rats exposed to Hypericum prenatally required more time to learn a new maze task. The clinical relevance of this, however, is uncertain. One randomized, blinded trial on rats showed reduced size and reduced number of somites in rats exposed to hypericin, a substance found in St. John's wort. There is also some evidence that St. John's wort can cause birth defects in unborn rats.

The two human case reports of women self-treating with St. John's wort reported no ill effects to either mother or infant.

Given the limited data regarding the safety of St. John's wort during pregnancy and the wide availability of other treatment options, such as psychotherapy and prescription antidepressants, St.

John's wort is not recommended for pregnant women at this time.


Health benefits of St. John’s Wort

(Health Benefit Times)

St. John’s Wort, commonly known as hypericum perforatum, Tipton’s Weed, or even Klamath Weed, is really a yellow-colored flowering herb. It includes numerous powerful compounds like hyperforin and hypericin which display antidepressant, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory as well as antioxidant properties.

St. John’s wort is really a perennial plant indigenous to Europe, however discovered through the entire US and parts of Canada. The plant is definitely an aggressive weed perfectly located at the dry ground of roadsides, meadows, woods, as well as hedges. It usually reaches a height of 0.3 to 0.61 m, except on the Pacific coast of the US exactly where it’s achieved heights of 1.5 m. The plant has got oval-shaped leaves as well as produces golden-yellow flowers. The petals include black or even yellow glandular dots and lines. There are approximately 370 species within the genus Hypericum, that is produced from the Greek words, hyper as well as eikon meaning “over an apparition,” alluding to the plant’s historical use to ward off evil spirits. Perforatum signifies the leaf’s appearance. Whenever held up to light, the translucent leaf glands resemble perforations. Harvest of the plant for therapeutic purposes should occur in July and August; the plant should be dried instantly to prevent lack of effectiveness. The dried herb includes the plant’s flowering tops.

St. John’s Wort has become very popular in current decades like a possible cure-all herbal cure for a wide swath of conditions. Unlike a number of other herbal treatments, most of the health advantages of St. John’s Wort have been confirmed by the scientific community, and also the herbal supplements are generally recommended by medical experts. St. John’s Wort is really a small flowering plant from the Hypericum genus which has the medical name of Hypericum perforatum, also it develops wild in Europe, yet has since spread to the Americas, Russia, Asia, China, and also the Middle East. You may know St. John’s Wort by the different name, like rosin rose or even goatweed, however they all have the same impact! The vast range of the health effects make St. John’s Wort such an important factor in herbal supplementation, and it’s also now widely accessible around the world.

St. John’s Wort are available in capsule, tincture, oil, or even raw form plus they all have their very own individual uses. The chemical constituents of St. John’s Wort consist of bioflavanoids along with a variety of anti-oxidants that may have got a considerable impact on both the hormonal, physical, as well as chemical behavior of the body. Whilst the components can be quite beneficial to human health, additionally, there are numerous negative effects or problems that may arise by using St. John’s Wort in conjunction with particular conditions or even medications. Talk to your doctor prior to starting herbal supplementation or use of St. John’s Wort.

Health benefits of St. John’s Wort

St. John’s Wort is renowned for its anti-depressant activity. It’s been utilized in folk medicine for hundreds of years like a painkiller or sedative, in addition to deal with minor to serious health problems which includes burns and bruises, mood swings, sleep problems, bed-wetting in children, malaria, lung and kidney problems, tuberculosis, uterine cramping, PMS, hemorrhoids, peptic ulcers, gastrointestinal problems, breathing problems, hangovers and alcoholism. Original research has discovered that St. John’s Wort also may help with psoriasis, sore throats, chronic coughs, sinus infections, Parkinson’s disease, long-term exhaustion syndrome, arthritis, nerve pain, depression, anxiety as well as mental disorders. Listed here are a few well-known advantages of St.f John’s Wort

1. Depression

Among all herbal treatments for depression, St. John’s Wort is probably the very best recognized and studied. A converted summary of research from the Department of Pharmacology, J.W. Goethe University in Frankfort, Germany, claims that “a number of good studies have been completed which confirm the efficacy and tolerability of St. John’s Wort extract in mild clinical despression symptoms.” Several researches indicates that it is equally as powerful as many doctor prescribed tri-cyclic antidepressant drugs and it has fewer negative effects. Yet other studies from the National Institute for Complimentary as well as Alternative Medicine reveal that St. John’s Wort is no more efficient at dealing with depression than the usual placebo. While scientists in North America and Europe continue to carry out research on St. John’s Wort, centuries of use point to some benefit for the relief of depression.

Depression could be a severe illness, therefore usually seek advice from a physician for advice. Typical usage of St. John’s Wort for depression consists of capsules and tinctures. It will take several weeks for St. John’s Wort to relieve the symptoms of depression and anxiety, therefore if symptoms worsen seek advice from a physician or mental medical expert instantly.

2. Hormonal Balance

As already expressed in the explanation of the antidepressant effects of St. John’s Wort, the active ingredients have got powerful effects on hormone regulation within the body. Hypothyroidism is among the most typical thyroid problems and St. John’s Wort is shown to decrease those symptoms and help the thyroid gland produce normal levels of hormones again.

3. Hangovers and Alcoholism

Researchers think that the powerful element of St. John’s Wort, hyperforin, might help deal with hangovers as well as alcoholism. As a result, a tea made out of the flowering tops of St. John’s Wort might be efficient. For making St. John’s Wort tea take a teabag (or one tablespoon of the flowers) and add it to a cupful of boiling water. Allow it to simmer for approximately 5 minutes and strain the tea, then add honey like a natural sweetener. To fight alcoholism, drink one cup of the tea right after breakfast and dinner everyday for approximately 4 to 6 weeks. For relief of hangover symptoms, consume this tea 2 to 3 times during the day. The tea could be replaced with one every day capsule of 300 mg of St. John’s Wort extract.

4. Antiviral Agent

New research recently come to light that St. John’s Wort has particular antiviral capabilities, like the prevention or even decrease in risk for AIDS, hepatitis, along with other severe viral conditions. The only problem with this is that high doses of St. John’s Wort are needed for this kind of antiviral effect, which may also result in a range of unpleasant negative effects. Additional research into finding a happy balance within this specialized area of health is ongoing.

5. Parkinson’s disease

It is considered that a dopamine dysfunction is among the reasons for Parkinson’s disease as well as schizophrenia. Several research claim that St. John’s Wort may enhance the quantity of a neurotransmitter dopamine. Research also claim that antioxidant activity of the herb might help with neural degeneration linked to the onset of Parkinson’s disease. However, further research is necessary to prove the extent of effectiveness of the herb. However, just consuming one cup of St. John’s Wort tea or one capsule of the extract frequently with a meal might inhibit the development of Parkinson’s disease in people susceptible to developing it.

6. Menopausal Mood Swings

There’s two distinctive periods in feminine sexual health that may be challenging when it comes to mood swings; pre-menstrual syndrome as well as menopause. St. John’s Wort is broadly suitable for ladies in both of these periods of the life, as the chemical constituents have shown to decrease mood swings as well as anxiety in menopausal women, and in addition decrease the seriousness of cramping and pre-menstrual irritation and depression.

7. Sinus Congestion and Chronic Coughing

St. John’s Wort has got anti-biotic as well as antiviral activity that might help reduce phlegm congestion, sinus infection, flu as well as bronchitis symptoms. Just consuming one cup of St. John’s Wort tea right after breakfast as well as dinner might help relieve the throat and sinus problems. To make St. John’s Wort tea, just soak in a tea bag in a cup of boiling water and allow it to steep for 5 minutes. Add honey or sugar for sweetness if preferred.

8. Addiction and Withdrawal

Even though additional research on this particular benefit is still on-going, earlier signs reveal that the usage of St. John’s Wort can be extremely helpful in reducing cravings as well as withdrawal symptoms right after quitting cigarettes, alcohol, or any other addictive substances. This might prove very beneficial, as addiction and recovery is really a challenging and problematic science at present.

9. Wounds and Bruises

St. John’s Wort has got anti-bacterial as well as analgesic activity. As a result, a balm, oil, or even poultice made out of St. John’s Wort flowers and leaves might help cure cuts, wounds, insect bites, boils, as well as bruises. St. John’s Wort oil can be created by frying 1/2 cup of dried flowers and leaves of the herb in 2 tbsp of mustard oil. Leave the flowers and leaves within the oil and allow the mixture cool down. Then add 1/3 cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil to the prepared St. John’s Wort oil. Use it 3-4 times on the wound during the day. The prepared oil could be kept in an air tight container in the cool and dark location for emergency use.

10. Other Mental Effects

This particular quality extends past depression, despite that being the most promoted benefit, to help individuals struggling with anxiety and mood swings too. By assisting to manage the hormonal balance within the body, St. John’s Wort has the capacity to get the metabolism and internal clock back in line, offering help for sleeping disorders, irritability, as well as long-term fatigue. Removing long-term stress hormones from the body usually improves all around health and also intellectual function, as excessive stress hormones can easily permanently modify numerous organ systems.

11. Anti-Inflammatory Agent

The calming nature of St. John’s Wort and also the rich concentration of antioxidant as well as anti-inflammatory compounds allow it to be ideal for reducing the painful pains of arthritis, along with gout, joint discomfort, as well as muscle aches. Just like it will help relieve inflammation on the skin as well as in the gut, St. John’s Wort also reduces inflammation within the cardiovascular system, therefore assisting to reduce blood pressure level and reduce stress on the heart.

12. Skin Treatment

If you utilize St. John’s Wort in topical application as a salve or even tincture, it may speed the healing process of burns, bruises, and also scrape by revitalizing circulation of oxygenated blood to those skin cells so that repairs may start.

13. Pregnancy Pains

During pregnancy, hemorrhoids or any other stretched out parts of the body may become very unpleasant. Although not suggested to take oral supplements through the pregnancy, external application of St. John’s Wort salves as well as pastes are strongly suggested for ladies struggling with these pregnancy-related problems.

14. Anti-Cancer Effects

Cancer research has lately started putting more faith within the role that St. John’s Wort could play. Laboratory research has revealed an absolute correlation between the prevention as well as management of leukemia along with constant usage of St. John’s Wort supplements. Any cancer-preventing compound is extremely valued, and also this research will definitely be ongoing.

15. Ear Pain

Ear infections (otitis media) that can cause ear pain is often curable with the use of St. John’s wort. One research involving 100 children proved that a mixture of garlic, St. John’s wort, calendula as well as mullein could work as a good herbal solution to offer rest from ear pain.

History of St. John’s Wort

The name by itself comes with an ancient history. The flower is usually in full bloom around June 24th, that is the day celebrated as John the Baptist’s birthday. The term “wort” means “plant” in Old English. Since medieval times, to celebrate this day, it really is customary to collect the herb and hang it over doors, windows, and icons like a safety measure to help keep evil away. Its capability to combat “evil spirits” or even “demons” is in fact what led the herb to its present depression fighting application. The ancients, in fact, considered that evil forces or even demons were accountable for making individuals melancholy or even downcast. Since treatment along with St. John’s wort provides a relaxing or even sedating effect, the herb started to realize a reputation to have a spiritual power that was able to safeguard individuals from being tormented by evil spirits.

St. John’s wort is known throughout history as a vulnerary (wound healer) and was in the heyday on the battlefields of the Crusaders. It absolutely was also credited with keeping evil away, for which purpose it absolutely was hung above doors on the Eve of St. John’s Day (24 June), whenever witches were considered to be most active. Its mystique was verified by the way the juice of the plant turns red on exposure to air – a phenomenon considered to represent the blood of St. John the Baptist.

Recommended dosage

Because dosages of herbal preparations usually are not always standardized, it is very important to discuss with an experienced practitioner probably the most reliable kind of St. John’s wort. Recommendations call for 300-500 mg (of a standardized 0.3% hypericin extract) 3 times every day. It will take 4 to 6 weeks to notice the antidepressant effects of this preparation.

On the other hand, one or two teaspoons of dried St. John’s wort may be put in a cup of boiling water.

Side Effects of St. John’s Wort

It’s been reported that St. John’s Wort may connect with various other drugs or its over dose might cause several negative effects like dry mouth, head ache, restlessness, confusion, dizziness, upset stomach, sexual dysfunction, as well as photosensitivity. Therefore, it is recommended talk to your physician just before consuming this particular herb, specifically if you are treated for depression, cancer, HIV infection, heart disease or even taking blood thinner (like Digoxin or Warfarin), or even oral contraceptives. Since the effects of St. John’s wort are still being analyzed, pregnant as well as breast-feeding ladies ought to prevent its use.Many people might be hypersensitive to St. John’s Wort, therefore it is crucial that you speak to your doctor if any unexplainable symptoms appear whenever taking this herb. To avoid photosensitivity, it really is recommended to wear a top quality sunblock prior to going out in the sun whilst taking St. John’s Wort supplements. Research has additionally discovered that the hypericum content in St. John’s Wort has tannic acid, which could restrict the body’s ability to soak up iron. As a result, taking iron supplements daily throughout the regular use of St. John’s Wort is usually recommended.

Depression could be a severe, even life-threatening, situation; as a result, it really is imperative which depressed patients using St. John’s wort are carefully monitored.


How to Plant Hypericum

By Patricia H. Reed, Demand Media

Add a burst of sunny yellow flowers to hard-to-plant areas under trees or to hillsides prone to erosion with St. John's wort (Hypericum sp.). While there are more than 400 species in the genus, those most suited to planting in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 9 are the 1- to 2-foot-tall ground cover variety, creeping St. John's wort (Hypericum calcinium), and the 3- to 4-foot-tall semi-evergreen shrub, called St. John's wort or gold flower (Hypericum moserianum). Plant either variety early in the fall or spring.

1 Dig a hole 1 foot deep and wide in an area of the garden that receives dappled shade, full sun or sun with afternoon shade in particularly hot microclimates. Fill the hole with water. Let it drain and refill it with water. After an hour, measure the number of inches the water has dropped with a ruler. A drop between 1 to 6 inches indicates soil that drains well. St. John's wort is susceptible to root rot where it doesn't have adequate drainage.

2 Clear weeds across a planting site that allows for 18 inches from center between ground cover St. John's wort, planting on a grid, or 3-foot spacing for hedges and 5-foot spacing for single specimens of the shrub variety.

3 Incorporate a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost with a shovel or tiller into the top 6 inches of soil across the planting area in any type of soil. Clay benefits from the increased aeration, and sandy soil, which St. John's wort prefers for its good drainage, gains additional nutrients.

4 Dig holes to accommodate the number of St. John's wort plants you are planting, each 1 to 2 inches shallower than the root ball of the plant and three times as wide.

5 Set the plant in its hole, filling in around the root ball and mounding the soil to create a gentle slope from the top of the root ball down to the surrounding soil to prevent water from settling around the plant. Firm the soil with your hands.

6 Water deeply after planting. Water once a week, about 1 inch of water per week when you don't receive rain, during its first year. After the plant's roots are established, it is drought tolerant.

7 Apply a 2-inch layer of mulch around the plants to keep weeds down and to retain moisture while ground cover plants fill in. Keep the mulch away from the stems of the plants to prevent rot.

Things You Will Need
• Shovel
• Ruler
• Compost
• Mulch
Tips
• Install a metal or plastic edging or periodically root prune ground cover St. John's wort, or it can grow out of bounds.
• Mow ground cover St. John's wort annually in late winter to revitalize it. Prune the shrub variety in early spring where it does not naturally die back.
Warnings
• Avoid common St. John's wort (Hypericum performatum) as it is considered invasive in nine states and is toxic to livestock.
• Shrubby St. John's wort may drop some leaves when temperatures cool. Where it dies all the way back, it only reaches 1 to 2 1/2 feet tall and is treated as a herbaceous perennial.

St. John's Wort for Depression

By Nancy Schimelpfening (Reviewed by a board-certified physician)
What Is St. John's Wort?

St. John's wort, or Hypericum perforatum, is a small shrub with clusters of yellow flowers which grows mainly in Europe, Asia and North America.

It has a long history of use as a depression remedy, going back to the time of ancient Greece. In modern times, it has gained increasing support in the medical literature as an effective treatment for mild to moderate depression and is quite popular in both the U.S.

and Europe.

All growing parts of the plant above the soil are used to manufacture the herbal extract, which is used medicinally in a variety of forms, such as pills, capsules, teas and tinctures.

How Does It Work?

It is unknown exactly how St. John's wort relieves depression, but there are two substances which are believed to be its main active components: hypericin and hyperforin.

It has been proposed that hypericin may act upon the brain in ways that decrease production of the stress hormone cortisol, while increasing the availability of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine.

Hyperforin may also work by increasing the availability of these mood-regulating substances, as well as others, but serotonin is thought to be the most important neutrotransmitter affected.

Other components of St. John's wort, such as the flavonoids, act as irreversible monoamine oxidase-A inhibitors, but their concentrations are so low that they are not likely to be involved in the antidepressants effect of St.

John's wort.

Effectiveness

The medical literature seems to suggest that St. John's wort is most effective for those with mild to moderate depression. However, it may be less effective for those with more severe or chronic depression.

Safety and Tolerability

The side effects that have been reported with St.

John's wort are both uncommon and mild, when they do occur. Some of the reported side effects include: dry mouth, dizziness, constipation, gastrointestinal symptoms and confusion.

Rarely, patients will report an increased sensitivity to light with St. John's wort, especially at higher doses. Some scientists have recommended the precautionary use of sunscreen for patients spending a large amount of time in the sun.

At least 17 cases of psychosis, 12 of which were comprised of mania or hypomania, have been reported in the literature. Bipolar patients are advised to use St. John's wort only if they are also taking a mood stabilizer.

If you are taking any other medications, you should consult with your doctor or pharmacist about the possibility of any drug interactions with St. John's wort. Several drugs - including warfarin, cyclosporin, birth control pills, theophylline, phenprocoumon, digoxin, indivir and irinotecan - may potentially become less effective if taken in conjunction with St. John's wort.

HIV-positive patients who take a protease inhibitor, cancer patients receiving chemotherapy and transplant patients receiving immunosuppressive drugs should be especially cautious about using St. John's wort. It is also recommended that St. John's wort not be combined with SSRIs due to anecdotal reports of serotonin syndrome, perhaps due to the monoamine oxidase inhibitor activity of St. John's wort.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Little is known about what effects St. John's wort may have during pregnancy and breastfeeding. It is advised that women who are pregnant or intend to become pregnant should avoid St. John's wort until more complete safety data is available.


Health benefits of St. John’s Wort

(Health Benefits Times)

St. John’s Wort, commonly known as hypericum perforatum, Tipton’s Weed, or even Klamath Weed, is really a yellow-colored flowering herb. It includes numerous powerful compounds like hyperforin and hypericin which display antidepressant, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory as well as antioxidant properties.

St. John’s wort is really a perennial plant indigenous to Europe, however discovered through the entire US and parts of Canada. The plant is definitely an aggressive weed perfectly located at the dry ground of roadsides, meadows, woods, as well as hedges. It usually reaches a height of 0.3 to 0.61 m, except on the Pacific coast of the US exactly where it’s achieved heights of 1.5 m. The plant has got oval-shaped leaves as well as produces golden-yellow flowers. The petals include black or even yellow glandular dots and lines. There are approximately 370 species within the genus Hypericum, that is produced from the Greek words, hyper as well as eikon meaning “over an apparition,” alluding to the plant’s historical use to ward off evil spirits. Perforatum signifies the leaf’s appearance. Whenever held up to light, the translucent leaf glands resemble perforations. Harvest of the plant for therapeutic purposes should occur in July and August; the plant should be dried instantly to prevent lack of effectiveness. The dried herb includes the plant’s flowering tops.

St. John’s Wort has become very popular in current decades like a possible cure-all herbal cure for a wide swath of conditions. Unlike a number of other herbal treatments, most of the health advantages of St. John’s Wort have been confirmed by the scientific community, and also the herbal supplements are generally recommended by medical experts. St. John’s Wort is really a small flowering plant from the Hypericum genus which has the medical name of Hypericum perforatum, also it develops wild in Europe, yet has since spread to the Americas, Russia, Asia, China, and also the Middle East. You may know St. John’s Wort by the different name, like rosin rose or even goatweed, however they all have the same impact! The vast range of the health effects make St. John’s Wort such an important factor in herbal supplementation, and it’s also now widely accessible around the world.

St. John’s Wort are available in capsule, tincture, oil, or even raw form plus they all have their very own individual uses. The chemical constituents of St. John’s Wort consist of bioflavanoids along with a variety of anti-oxidants that may have got a considerable impact on both the hormonal, physical, as well as chemical behavior of the body. Whilst the components can be quite beneficial to human health, additionally, there are numerous negative effects or problems that may arise by using St. John’s Wort in conjunction with particular conditions or even medications. Talk to your doctor prior to starting herbal supplementation or use of St. John’s Wort.

Health benefits of St. John’s Wort

St. John’s Wort is renowned for its anti-depressant activity. It’s been utilized in folk medicine for hundreds of years like a painkiller or sedative, in addition to deal with minor to serious health problems which includes burns and bruises, mood swings, sleep problems, bed-wetting in children, malaria, lung and kidney problems, tuberculosis, uterine cramping, PMS, hemorrhoids, peptic ulcers, gastrointestinal problems, breathing problems, hangovers and alcoholism. Original research has discovered that St. John’s Wort also may help with psoriasis, sore throats, chronic coughs, sinus infections, Parkinson’s disease, long-term exhaustion syndrome, arthritis, nerve pain, depression, anxiety as well as mental disorders. Listed here are a few well-known advantages of St.f John’s Wort

1. Depression

Among all herbal treatments for depression, St. John’s Wort is probably the very best recognized and studied. A converted summary of research from the Department of Pharmacology, J.W. Goethe University in Frankfort, Germany, claims that “a number of good studies have been completed which confirm the efficacy and tolerability of St. John’s Wort extract in mild clinical despression symptoms.” Several researches indicates that it is equally as powerful as many doctor prescribed tri-cyclic antidepressant drugs and it has fewer negative effects. Yet other studies from the National Institute for Complimentary as well as Alternative Medicine reveal that St. John’s Wort is no more efficient at dealing with depression than the usual placebo. While scientists in North America and Europe continue to carry out research on St. John’s Wort, centuries of use point to some benefit for the relief of depression.

Depression could be a severe illness, therefore usually seek advice from a physician for advice. Typical usage of St. John’s Wort for depression consists of capsules and tinctures. It will take several weeks for St. John’s Wort to relieve the symptoms of depression and anxiety, therefore if symptoms worsen seek advice from a physician or mental medical expert instantly.

2. Hormonal Balance

As already expressed in the explanation of the antidepressant effects of St. John’s Wort, the active ingredients have got powerful effects on hormone regulation within the body. Hypothyroidism is among the most typical thyroid problems and St. John’s Wort is shown to decrease those symptoms and help the thyroid gland produce normal levels of hormones again.

3. Hangovers and Alcoholism

Researchers think that the powerful element of St. John’s Wort, hyperforin, might help deal with hangovers as well as alcoholism. As a result, a tea made out of the flowering tops of St. John’s Wort might be efficient. For making St. John’s Wort tea take a teabag (or one tablespoon of the flowers) and add it to a cupful of boiling water. Allow it to simmer for approximately 5 minutes and strain the tea, then add honey like a natural sweetener. To fight alcoholism, drink one cup of the tea right after breakfast and dinner everyday for approximately 4 to 6 weeks. For relief of hangover symptoms, consume this tea 2 to 3 times during the day. The tea could be replaced with one every day capsule of 300 mg of St. John’s Wort extract.

4. Antiviral Agent

New research recently come to light that St. John’s Wort has particular antiviral capabilities, like the prevention or even decrease in risk for AIDS, hepatitis, along with other severe viral conditions. The only problem with this is that high doses of St. John’s Wort are needed for this kind of antiviral effect, which may also result in a range of unpleasant negative effects. Additional research into finding a happy balance within this specialized area of health is ongoing.

5. Parkinson’s disease

It is considered that a dopamine dysfunction is among the reasons for Parkinson’s disease as well as schizophrenia. Several research claim that St. John’s Wort may enhance the quantity of a neurotransmitter dopamine. Research also claim that antioxidant activity of the herb might help with neural degeneration linked to the onset of Parkinson’s disease. However, further research is necessary to prove the extent of effectiveness of the herb. However, just consuming one cup of St. John’s Wort tea or one capsule of the extract frequently with a meal might inhibit the development of Parkinson’s disease in people susceptible to developing it.

6. Menopausal Mood Swings

There’s two distinctive periods in feminine sexual health that may be challenging when it comes to mood swings; pre-menstrual syndrome as well as menopause. St. John’s Wort is broadly suitable for ladies in both of these periods of the life, as the chemical constituents have shown to decrease mood swings as well as anxiety in menopausal women, and in addition decrease the seriousness of cramping and pre-menstrual irritation and depression.

7. Sinus Congestion and Chronic Coughing

St. John’s Wort has got anti-biotic as well as antiviral activity that might help reduce phlegm congestion, sinus infection, flu as well as bronchitis symptoms. Just consuming one cup of St. John’s Wort tea right after breakfast as well as dinner might help relieve the throat and sinus problems. To make St. John’s Wort tea, just soak in a tea bag in a cup of boiling water and allow it to steep for 5 minutes. Add honey or sugar for sweetness if preferred.

8. Addiction and Withdrawal

Even though additional research on this particular benefit is still on-going, earlier signs reveal that the usage of St. John’s Wort can be extremely helpful in reducing cravings as well as withdrawal symptoms right after quitting cigarettes, alcohol, or any other addictive substances. This might prove very beneficial, as addiction and recovery is really a challenging and problematic science at present.

9. Wounds and Bruises

St. John’s Wort has got anti-bacterial as well as analgesic activity. As a result, a balm, oil, or even poultice made out of St. John’s Wort flowers and leaves might help cure cuts, wounds, insect bites, boils, as well as bruises. St. John’s Wort oil can be created by frying 1/2 cup of dried flowers and leaves of the herb in 2 tbsp of mustard oil. Leave the flowers and leaves within the oil and allow the mixture cool down. Then add 1/3 cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil to the prepared St. John’s Wort oil. Use it 3-4 times on the wound during the day. The prepared oil could be kept in an air tight container in the cool and dark location for emergency use.

10. Other Mental Effects

This particular quality extends past depression, despite that being the most promoted benefit, to help individuals struggling with anxiety and mood swings too. By assisting to manage the hormonal balance within the body, St. John’s Wort has the capacity to get the metabolism and internal clock back in line, offering help for sleeping disorders, irritability, as well as long-term fatigue. Removing long-term stress hormones from the body usually improves all around health and also intellectual function, as excessive stress hormones can easily permanently modify numerous organ systems.

11. Anti-Inflammatory Agent

The calming nature of St. John’s Wort and also the rich concentration of antioxidant as well as anti-inflammatory compounds allow it to be ideal for reducing the painful pains of arthritis, along with gout, joint discomfort, as well as muscle aches. Just like it will help relieve inflammation on the skin as well as in the gut, St. John’s Wort also reduces inflammation within the cardiovascular system, therefore assisting to reduce blood pressure level and reduce stress on the heart.

12. Skin Treatment

If you utilize St. John’s Wort in topical application as a salve or even tincture, it may speed the healing process of burns, bruises, and also scrape by revitalizing circulation of oxygenated blood to those skin cells so that repairs may start.

13. Pregnancy Pains

During pregnancy, hemorrhoids or any other stretched out parts of the body may become very unpleasant. Although not suggested to take oral supplements through the pregnancy, external application of St. John’s Wort salves as well as pastes are strongly suggested for ladies struggling with these pregnancy-related problems.

14. Anti-Cancer Effects

Cancer research has lately started putting more faith within the role that St. John’s Wort could play. Laboratory research has revealed an absolute correlation between the prevention as well as management of leukemia along with constant usage of St. John’s Wort supplements. Any cancer-preventing compound is extremely valued, and also this research will definitely be ongoing.

15. Ear Pain

Ear infections (otitis media) that can cause ear pain is often curable with the use of St. John’s wort. One research involving 100 children proved that a mixture of garlic, St. John’s wort, calendula as well as mullein could work as a good herbal solution to offer rest from ear pain.

History of St. John’s Wort

The name by itself comes with an ancient history. The flower is usually in full bloom around June 24th, that is the day celebrated as John the Baptist’s birthday. The term “wort” means “plant” in Old English. Since medieval times, to celebrate this day, it really is customary to collect the herb and hang it over doors, windows, and icons like a safety measure to help keep evil away. Its capability to combat “evil spirits” or even “demons” is in fact what led the herb to its present depression fighting application. The ancients, in fact, considered that evil forces or even demons were accountable for making individuals melancholy or even downcast. Since treatment along with St. John’s wort provides a relaxing or even sedating effect, the herb started to realize a reputation to have a spiritual power that was able to safeguard individuals from being tormented by evil spirits.

St. John’s wort is known throughout history as a vulnerary (wound healer) and was in the heyday on the battlefields of the Crusaders. It absolutely was also credited with keeping evil away, for which purpose it absolutely was hung above doors on the Eve of St. John’s Day (24 June), whenever witches were considered to be most active. Its mystique was verified by the way the juice of the plant turns red on exposure to air – a phenomenon considered to represent the blood of St. John the Baptist.

Recommended dosage

Because dosages of herbal preparations usually are not always standardized, it is very important to discuss with an experienced practitioner probably the most reliable kind of St. John’s wort. Recommendations call for 300-500 mg (of a standardized 0.3% hypericin extract) 3 times every day. It will take 4 to 6 weeks to notice the antidepressant effects of this preparation.

On the other hand, one or two teaspoons of dried St. John’s wort may be put in a cup of boiling water.

Side Effects of St. John’s Wort

It’s been reported that St. John’s Wort may connect with various other drugs or its over dose might cause several negative effects like dry mouth, head ache, restlessness, confusion, dizziness, upset stomach, sexual dysfunction, as well as photosensitivity. Therefore, it is recommended talk to your physician just before consuming this particular herb, specifically if you are treated for depression, cancer, HIV infection, heart disease or even taking blood thinner (like Digoxin or Warfarin), or even oral contraceptives. Since the effects of St. John’s wort are still being analyzed, pregnant as well as breast-feeding ladies ought to prevent its use.Many people might be hypersensitive to St. John’s Wort, therefore it is crucial that you speak to your doctor if any unexplainable symptoms appear whenever taking this herb. To avoid photosensitivity, it really is recommended to wear a top quality sunblock prior to going out in the sun whilst taking St. John’s Wort supplements. Research has additionally discovered that the hypericum content in St. John’s Wort has tannic acid, which could restrict the body’s ability to soak up iron. As a result, taking iron supplements daily throughout the regular use of St. John’s Wort is usually recommended.

Depression could be a severe, even life-threatening, situation; as a result, it really is imperative which depressed patients using St. John’s wort are carefully monitored.


'St John's Wort plant as effective as Prozac for treating depression', say scientists

By Daniel Martin (Daily Mail)

It has long been a happy alternative for those reluctant to pop pills for depression.

But the herbal extract St John's Wort now has more than just cheerful converts to testify to its mood-lifting powers.

In what is billed as the most thorough study of the plant, scientists have found it is just as effective as Prozac at treating depression.

It also had fewer side effects than many standard drugs used to help those battling despair.

Researchers compared the effects of the plant hypericum perforatum - popularly known as St John's Wort - with placebos or a wide range of old and new anti-depressants, including those from the new generation of SSRI drugs, such as Prozac and Seroxat.

The findings could prompt more GPs to prescribe St John's Wort.

In Germany, it is commonly given to children and teenagers.

Experts do not know exactly how the plant lifts depression, although most believe it probably works by keeping the chemical serotonin, which is linked to positive moods, in the brain for longer.

The study's lead author, Dr Klaus Linde, from the Centre for Complementary Medicine in Munich, pooled data from 29 studies involving 5,489 patients with mild to moderately severe depression.

'Overall, the St John's Wort extracts tested in the trials were superior to placebo, similarly effective as standard anti-depressants, and had fewer side effects than standard anti-depressants,' he said.

But he pointed out that St John's Wort products available in health food shops and chemists differed greatly and some may be more effective than others.

'Using a St John's Wort extract might be justified but products on the market vary considerably, so these results only apply to the preparations tested,' he explained.

The findings were published by the Cochrane Library, which specialises in systematic reviews of research studies.

A separate study has found St John's Wort, available in countless health shops, is the only alternative medicine proven to have an effect.

Others, including ginseng, liquid tonic, cat's claw, gingko biloba and royal jelly, had no firm base in evidence and could be dangerous when taken with other drugs, according to the study by St James' University Hospital in Leeds.

Some other studies however have indicated that St John's Wort may interfere with the effectiveness of the contraceptive pill.

Other reported effects have included dizziness, tiredness and hair loss.

The extract has become a popular alternative to anti-depressants such as Prozac and Seroxat in recent years following fears over the safety of SSRI (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor) drugs.

Doctors have been told not to prescribe most SSRIs to under-18s because of an increased risk of suicide.

Experts have also said they could not rule out a suicide risk to older users.

Another study found that pregnant women who take SSRI drugs were at risk of having babies with birth defects such as cleft palates and heart problems.

Four out of five GPs have admitted overprescribing Prozac and similar drugs.

They blamed a lack of suitable alternatives, including behavioural therapy and social care as well as medicines.


St. John's Wort Benefits: Natural Therapy

(The Herb Companion staff)

One Saturday last June, a stream of customers filed through Larry Schaefer’s health-food store in Sun City, Arizona, seeking St.-John’s-wort, the herb rapidly becoming known for its ability to combat depression.

“I sold every single bottle I had,” says Schaefer, owner of The Almond Tree, where St.-John’s-wort products normally sell at a rate of thirty bottles a week. On this June Saturday alone, he sold sixty bottles, the result, he says, of a national television broadcast about the herb. The following week he sold a total of 125 bottles—more than four times the weekly average. “People didn’t really care what form I had it in,” Schaefer says. “They just wanted it.”

Schaefer wasn’t the only one whose supplies of St.-John’s-wort were scooped up. Shop owners and manufacturers across the country reported phenomenal increases in sales of St.-John’s-wort products last summer—as much as 700 percent in some cases. Richo Cech of HerbPharm, a botanicals supplier based in Williams, Oregon, estimates that his company pressed 10,000 pounds of fresh St.-John’s-wort flowers into extracts this year, five times the company’s annual average of 2,000 pounds.

It Works: The Evidence

The St.-John’s-wort fervor was fanned by the ABC television news program 20/20, which in June described, for millions of viewers, the herb’s ability to fight mild depression as effectively as and more safely than synthetic antidepressants.

Until that broadcast, most Americans knew St.-John’s-wort (Hypericum perforatum) only as a noxious weed. But convincing news of the herb’s ability to beat depression had reached the U.S. medical establishment in 1996, when the British Medical Journal published a scientific analysis of twenty-three clinical trials of the herb as a depression treatment. The authors concluded that St.-John’s-wort extracts were as effective as standard antidepressants and caused fewer side effects, including nausea and dizziness. ­Patients who took St.-John’s-wort felt less sad, less anxious, and more hopeful, among other improvements.

The National Institute of Health’s Office of Alternative Medicine, the National Institute of Mental Health, and the Office of Dietary Supplements are collaborating to fund research on St.-John’s-wort and issued a request for proposals last June. But substantial research already exists in Europe, and German doctors commonly prescribe preparations made from the flowering tops of St.-John’s-wort to treat anxiety, mild depression, and sleep disorders. In 1994, German physicians wrote prescriptions for nearly sixty-six million St.-John’s-wort products worth about $35 million, according to the British Medical Journal.

Dosage: St. John's Wort

• Hypericum perforatum

What it does: Treats mild depression, anxiety

How we know: Controlled clinical trials show that it is safe and effective in treating depression, with far fewer side effects than conventional drugs.

How to use it: Dried St.-John’s-wort flowers can be used to make a tea; they are available in bulk at natural food stores. Use 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried herb steeped in a cup of boiling water for ten minutes. Drinking one to two cups of tea a day for at least four weeks is recommended.

Commercial St.-John’s-wort extracts standardized to 0.3 percent hypericin (similar wording often appears on the label) are taken in doses of one 300 mg capsule three times a day or 3 to 4 droppersful of the tincture twice a day. It takes from three to six weeks to work; ­increasing the dose doesn’t make it work more quickly.

Cautions: Prolonged use or high doses may make the skin more sensitive to sunlight. Prozac and St.-John’s-wort may be a bad combination, so they shouldn’t be taken at the same time until further research is completed.

St.-John’s-wort may interact badly with wine, cheese, and other foods, so consult your physician about a proper diet. How Health Experts Use St. John’s Wort To Treat Their Patients’ Depression

Americans are quickly catching on to St.-John’s-wort as a depression remedy, but some health-care practitioners have prescribed it for years.

Donald Brown, a naturopathic doctor practicing in Seattle, has prescribed extracts of the herb since the 1980s in certain cases. Hyla Cass, M.D., a psychiatrist specializing in nutrition in California, also recommends the herb when she feels it’s warranted. Here, Brown and Cass describe cases in which they’ve used St.-John’s-wort to treat depression; the patients’ names have been changed to protect their privacy. Case Study #1:

Freddie, the ‘failed’ jazz muscian

Freddie, a jazz musician in his late twenties, moved to Seattle from the East Coast to live with his girlfriend and her child. After the move, he went through “the typical existential dilemma” of not connecting with his new life as quickly as he thought he would, Brown says. Suddenly, he was father to a child. He didn’t exercise and he ate poorly, not to mention that he wasn’t making it in the music scene. He “crashed and burned”, then he consulted Brown, telling the doctor that he felt that he had failed and, as a result, he was depressed.

Recommended treatment: In addition to referring Freddie to a therapist and recommending changes in his diet, exercise regimen, and lifestyle, Brown prescribed St.-John’s-wort for four weeks. At the end of this test period, Freddie reported that he could get out of bed with a sense of purpose. After two months, Brown noticed outward signs of progress: Freddie was motivated to work things out with his girlfriend, and he was exercising. After continuous treatment for about six months, Brown reduced Freddie’s St.-John’s-wort intake over the course of a couple of weeks. Freddie is now off St.-John’s-wort and is doing fine. Case Study #2:

Sandy’s unceasing distress

Sandy, a secretary in her mid-thirties, fought depressive episodes off and on for years. Although she tried psychotherapy, it didn’t have a definitive effect; it would help for a while, but eventually she would get depressed again.

She tried , but disliked its side effects, including sleeplessness and reduced sex drive. To help her sleep, her doctors gave her a second antidepressant to take along with the Prozac, but that left her irritable and unable to get out of bed. She didn’t feel like herself; in fact, she was miserable, feeling overburdened by both her family and her job.

“When she came to me, she was ready to give up,” Cass says. “She didn’t want to feel like she had before medication, but she couldn’t stand being on it.”

Recommended treatment: Cass gradually moved Sandy off the pharmaceuticals and onto St.-John’s-wort, along with a specially tailored supplement program. Within a short period of time, Sandy felt “normal” and once more liked her job, husband, and kids. Today, eighteen months later, she is still taking St.-John’s-wort and hasn’t relapsed; she now takes in stride events that previously might have thrown her into a depression, Cass says.

Not A Quick Fix

The fervent interest in St.-John’s-wort is undoubtedly linked to the way many Americans feel. According to a National Institute of Mental Health estimate, 10.6 million Americans suffer mild cases of depression and 9.9 million suffer mild to severe cases of depression each year; many of these people are drawn to drugs such as Prozac or Nardil to relieve their symptoms.

Health researchers believe that depression can result from deficiencies of serotonin and norepenephrine, mood-regulating chemicals that send signals to the brain. Some antidepressants work by correcting these deficiencies. In the case of St.-John’s-wort, however, science hasn’t yet demonstrated exactly how it works, but it is believed that the herb’s therapeutic components perform in a few different ways. One of the herb’s constituents, hypericin, has been shown to increase the concentration of serotonin and norepinephrine in storage sites in the central nervous system. Other constituents appear to inhibit an enzyme called COMT (catechol-O-methyltransferase), which also can reduce the brain’s two “feel-good” chemicals. Yet another mechanism appears to suppress the release of interleukin-6, which affects mood through neurohormonal pathways.

Because St.-John’s-wort causes no serious side effects, says Hyla Cass, M.D., a California psychiatrist specializing in nutritional medicine, people generally find it more pleasant than synthetic remedies, which can cause dry mouth, headaches, nausea, reduced sexual drive, anxiety, insomnia, drowsiness, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and a dulling of emotional response.

“I don’t notice that happening with St.-John’s-wort,” says Cass, adding that her patients notice, too. “It seems to bring out their own natural energy and vibrancy.”

However, some health-care pro­viders warn that St.-John’s-wort is not a panacea for depression. For one thing, it takes three to six weeks of use before it begins to work. And, adds Donald Brown, a naturopathic physician who has prescribed St.-John’s-wort since the 1980s, the most effective way to treat depression is not by taking a pill, natural or otherwise, but by following a holistic approach that includes lifestyle changes and the guidance of a qualified health-care provider. Brown says he tends to prescribe St.-John’s-wort primarily for patients who want to wean themselves off synthetic antidepressants.

Product Precautions, Choices

With the increased demand for St.-John’s-wort, some members of the herbal supplement industry worry about poor-quality products entering the market or products that claim to contain St.-John’s-wort but don’t. That could lead to St.-John’s-wort users experiencing unexpected reactions or no results at all.

“While it [the increased demand] was great, a lot of product got dumped on the market,” says Grace Lyn Rich of Nature’s Herbs, an herbal supplement manufac­turer. “People who never had a St.-John’s product all of a sudden did.”


Rich and others advise consumers and retailers to buy wisely. Sounds simple enough. But that can be tricky because herbal products are sold as dietary supplements, so they aren’t as strictly regulated as medicine. Rich suggests that those who have used herbal supplements stick with brand names they trust and that new users check with their health-food retailer for guidance.

Not Just For Your Blues

St. John's Wort heals wounds and burns

St.-John’s-wort has been part of a variety of traditional medicine practices for centuries, and has been drawn upon not only to soothe anxiety but also to heal wounds.

John Gerard, a sixteenth-century herbalist, praised a blood-red extract of the plant as a “most precious” ­remedy for deep wounds. In the nineteenth-century’s Medicinal Plants by Charles F. Millspaugh (Yorston, 1892), a physician relates that he had great success using the herb to treat injuries to the nerves, especially those encased in the cranium and spinal column. Contemporary herbalists also recommend St.-John’s-wort to treat wounds, and use it to make lotions to speed the healing of bruises, varicose veins, and minor burns.

St.-John’s-wort’s power to fight bacteria and infection stems from constituents found in the flowers. The flowers are punctuated with black dots along their margins and, when the flowers are crushed, the dots produce a red pigment.

St.-John’s-wort grows in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia. It is a perennial that grows from one to three feet high and is topped with yellow clusters of flowers from June through August.

To make your own oil, follow these easy steps: g Place a handful of St.-John’s-wort flowers in a jar. g Add olive oil, just enough to cover the petals. Blend the oil and flowers until creamy. g Cover the jar tightly and set in a dark place for two weeks. If you wish, place the jar in a sunny spot on the fourteenth day to bring out the herb’s amber pigment. Placing it in direct sunlight for a longer time period may break down the hypericin. g At the end of two weeks, strain the oil into a dark glass jar and store in a cool, dark place.

Remember, this oil is for external use only. Serious wounds or those that don’t heal quickly should be treated by your health-care provider.

As For Selecting A Product, It May Help To Know This:

Hypericin, a constituent found in St.-John’s-wort, is often used in commercial St.-John’s-wort preparations as a “marker” of quality assurance. Product labels will often state that the content is standardized to 0.2 to 0.3 percent hypericin. Identifying chemical markers is common in the effort to achieve consistency; the product is then said to be “standardized” to ensure that the product will give more-or-less guaranteed results.

In the case of St.-John’s-wort, as is true for many botanicals, more than one constituent may be responsible for the herb’s therapeutic action. So, until more is known about what makes St.-John’s-wort an effective depression remedy, going by its hypericin content may be the best way to assure product consistency. But if hypericin is preferentially extracted from the herb, then other components—which may also be contributing to the herb’s ability to combat depression—may be present only in lower amounts, or not at all.


Weekly Dose: St John’s Wort, the flower that can treat depression

(The Conversation)

St John’s Wort, botanical name Hypericum perforatum, is considered a weed in temperate climates outside its native homelands of Europe, Asia and North Africa. The flowering tops and aerial parts of the plant are used medicinally in the form of tinctures and tablets to treat a number of conditions affecting the nervous and immune systems.

Records of the medicinal use of St John’s Wort date back to ancient Greece. It is believed Dioscorides and Hippocrates used it to cleanse the body of evil spirits. Since the times of the Swiss physician and botanist Paracelsus (1493-1541), St John’s Wort has traditionally been used to treat nerve pain, anxiety, neurosis and depression and externally for bruises, wounds and shingles.

How is it used today?

In modern times, St John’s Wort has been shown to be as effective as placebo and standard antidepressants in the treatment of mild to moderate depression.

In Australia, St John’s Wort is mainly purchased through pharmacies and health food stores with or without the guidance of a health-care professional.

The St John’s Wort products vary in the amount of key constituents they contain. Only a few products actually match what was trialled in the studies with positive clinical outcomes. Variations in the active constituent content will affect the strength and effectiveness of the medicine and its possible safety.

It has become more common for complementary medicine manufacturers to include a standardised amount of the herb constituents on the label. The daily dose range for total hypericin content is 0.75mg to 2.7mg of hypericin daily. The published studies generally used standardised extracts to contain 0.3% hypericin and 2-5% hyperforin.

In 2000, St John’s Wort made up 25% of all antidepressant prescriptions in Europe. A more recent Australian study reported 4.3% or 17,780 patients who had visited a GP for depression had taken or were taking St John’s Wort.

How does it work?

St John’s Wort has been reported as containing many constituents and demonstrating multiple and simultaneous mechanisms of action.

While individual key constituents have been identified as hypericin (a naturally occurring substance with a few different applications including antidepressive), pseudohypericin and hyperforin (a phytochemical produced in some plants), collectively they exert a number of pharmacological effects including antidepressant activity.

The hypericin and flavonoids (namely hyperforin) and other flavonoid molecules that are found in some fruits and vegetables are thought to play a role in exerting an antidepressant effect by altering nerve chemical messengers known as neurotransmitters. It is considered important available products contain standardised amounts of these components.

St John’s Wort has been shown in non-human studies to assist in keeping the circulating levels of four key neurotransmitters (serotonin, noradrenaline, dopamine and gamma-aminobutyric acid) at levels that improve depressive symptoms.

This is a very distinctive feature of St John’s Wort. No other drug has been demonstrated to affect all four of these chemical messengers with similar potencies. Studies comparing the effectiveness of St John’s Wort with different classes of other anti-depressants that target these neurotransmitters support the proposed multi-targeted mechanism of action of St John’s Wort.

Antidepressants Citalopram (Celexa) and Sertraline (Zoloft) belong to a class of antidepressants known as selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These block the reabsorption of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain, making more serotonin available to assist the brain cells to send and receive chemical messages. This in turn boosts mood.

A high-standard systematic review conducted in 2009 concluded St John’s Wort extract was superior to placebo in patients with major depression and similarly effective to standard treatment with SSRIs. They also found fewer people taking St John’s Wort discontinued their treatment. This was due to them experiencing fewer side effects.

The same review also found no significant difference in the effectiveness of St John’s Wort and the older class of antidepressants known as “tri-cyclic”. These work by blocking the absorption of serotonin to improve their availability for sending and receiving chemical messages that improve our mood.

St John’s Wort was reported as more effective in German studies compared to those in non-European-based populations, but it is thought these results were over-optimistic.

Safety and side-effects

Like standard antidepressants, it may take up to four weeks to judge how effective St John’s Wort has been. It is generally well tolerated, but adverse effects may occur. These include mild gastrointestinal symptoms, skin reactions, increased sensitivity to sunlight, fatigue, sedation, restlessness, dizziness, headache and dry mouth.

St John’s Wort affects enzymes in the gastrointestinal tract and liver that are involved in drug metabolism. It can reduce how much of a drug is available in the body by reducing how much is absorbed and excreted. Therefore the potential effectiveness of many drugs can be limited.

This includes drugs used to treat serious conditions such as AIDs, cancer and epilepsy. St John’s Wort can also reduce the effectiveness of the oral contraceptive pill. It should not be taken along with standard antidepressant drugs.

Anyone suspecting they may have symptoms of depression should consult their doctor to ensure a correct diagnosis is made. The use of St John’s Wort should be guided by a health-care professional who is knowledgeable about the quality of available products, effective dosing and safety considerations, including known drug interactions associated with its use.



St. John's Wort for Depression

(About Health)
What Is St. John's Wort?

St. John's wort, or Hypericum perforatum, is a small shrub with clusters of yellow flowers which grows mainly in Europe, Asia and North America.

It has a long history of use as a depression remedy, going back to the time of ancient Greece. In modern times, it has gained increasing support in the medical literature as an effective treatment for mild to moderate depression and is quite popular in both the U.S. and Europe.

All growing parts of the plant above the soil are used to manufacture the herbal extract, which is used medicinally in a variety of forms, such as pills, capsules, teas and tinctures.

How Does It Work?

It is unknown exactly how St. John's wort relieves depression, but there are two substances which are believed to be its main active components: hypericin and hyperforin.

It has been proposed that hypericin may act upon the brain in ways that decrease production of the stress hormone cortisol, while increasing the availability of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine.

Hyperforin may also work by increasing the availability of these mood-regulating substances, as well as others, but serotonin is thought to be the most important neutrotransmitter affected.

Other components of St. John's wort, such as the flavonoids, act as irreversible monoamine oxidase-A inhibitors, but their concentrations are so low that they are not likely to be involved in the antidepressants effect of St. John's wort.

Effectiveness

The medical literature seems to suggest that St. John's wort is most effective for those with mild to moderate depression. However, it may be less effective for those with more severe or chronic depression.

Safety and Tolerability

The side effects that have been reported with St. John's wort are both uncommon and mild, when they do occur. Some of the reported side effects include: dry mouth, dizziness, constipation, gastrointestinal symptoms and confusion.

Rarely, patients will report an increased sensitivity to light with St. John's wort, especially at higher doses. Some scientists have recommended the precautionary use of sunscreen for patients spending a large amount of time in the sun.

At least 17 cases of psychosis, 12 of which were comprised of mania or hypomania, have been reported in the literature. Bipolar patients are advised to use St. John's wort only if they are also taking a mood stabilizer.

If you are taking any other medications, you should consult with your doctor or pharmacist about the possibility of any drug interactions with St. John's wort. Several drugs - including warfarin, cyclosporin, birth control pills, theophylline, phenprocoumon, digoxin, indivir and irinotecan - may potentially become less effective if taken in conjunction with St. John's wort. HIV-positive patients who take a protease inhibitor, cancer patients receiving chemotherapy and transplant patients receiving immunosuppressive drugs should be especially cautious about using St. John's wort. It is also recommended that St. John's wort not be combined with SSRIs due to anecdotal reports of serotonin syndrome, perhaps due to the monoamine oxidase inhibitor activity of St. John's wort.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Little is known about what effects St. John's wort may have during pregnancy and breastfeeding. It is advised that women who are pregnant or intend to become pregnant should avoid St. John's wort until more complete safety data is available.


Homeopathic St. John’s Wort: Good for More Than Just Depression

By Larry Malerba, D.O.

In this age of antidepressant overprescribing, popular herbal preparations of St. John’s Wort have become an excellent first line of defense in mild depression for those concerned about pharmaceutical side effects. But did you know that a diluted homeopathic form of St. John’s Wort is highly useful for a wide variety of additional health-related problems? Homeopathic Hypericum perforatum, named for the Latin genus and species of the plant, is effective for many conditions that involve nerve injuries and puncture wounds.

I remember my first experience with Hypericum in medical school. A woman with chronic arm pain resulting from a severe injury to her “funny bone” (a large nerve exposed at the elbow called the ulnar nerve) consulted the physician with whom I was doing a preceptorship. Previously an accomplished guitar player, she had endured years of pain and, in spite of surgery to the nerve, was no longer able to perform. The doctor prescribed several doses of homeopathic Hypericum and, within a few weeks, she experienced a 50 percent reduction in pain. This simple case example illustrates the most common indication for Hypericum — injuries to nerves.

There are a number of areas of the body that are rich in nerves, most notably the fingertips, tailbone, and eyes. Because of the high density of nerve endings in these areas, they can become very painful when injured. We all know how painful an injury as minor as a paper cut can be. The good news is that cuts, bruises, and crush injuries to the fingertips will respond quite nicely to homeopathic Hypericum. Just a few doses can help reduce pain and speed the healing process.

A common feature of nerve injuries is that pain often radiates along the nerve starting from the site of the injury. An example of this type of nerve injury occurs when a person falls and lands on his or her tailbone. The tip of the spine, or coccyx, is essentially where the spinal cord ends, and injuries to this area can be very painful. I was once consulted by a young man who had severely injured his tailbone. He reported years of suffering, primarily in the form of nerve pains that radiated from his coccyx down both legs. His condition had turned something as basic as walking into a painful experience. Periodic doses of Hypericum over the course of several months rendered him virtually pain free.

Likewise, a direct injury to the eyeball that results in sharp, sticking, nerve-like pains may respond well to Hypericum. In such cases, it is very reasonable to take a few doses of Hypericum in quick succession followed by a prompt medical evaluation in order to rule out potential complications and ensure a safe recovery.

The other main indication for Hypericum is for the effects of puncture wounds. Whether the injury is from a needle, a nail, a splinter, a shard of glass, or an insect stinger, the administration of a few doses of Hypericum in the initial phase of such injuries is a good precaution to take in order to prevent pain, inflammation, and further complications. Again, depending on the type and extent of injury, a physician should be consulted if infection is suspected or if problems persist.

I once saw a woman who complained of chronic nerve pain radiating down her leg. She was certain that the pain had begun after she was given an epidural injection to manage pain during labor and delivery. Here, we see an interesting conjunction of Hypericum indications, a puncture wound via injection administered to a nerve center of the body, the spinal cord. Thankfully, periodic doses of Hypericum resulted in the complete disappearance of her pain within a couple of months.

The very same conjunction of circumstances occurs during routine dentistry. Lidocaine injections are used to block nerves innervating the roots of teeth. This modern anesthetic miracle can prevent dentistry from being a harrowing experience, but the aftermath can be painful. It is not that uncommon that this type of dental anesthesia can lead to chronic symptoms like facial numbness, tingling, and pain associated with the location of the injection. This is why I recommend a couple of routine doses of Hypericum to my patients to be taken immediately after completion of dental visits in order to prevent such complications. For the same reasons, I also recommend it after tooth extractions and root canals.

It should be noted that homeopathic Hypericum perforatum is not the same as herbal St. John’s Wort and neither is it a nutritional supplement. Herbal and homeopathic forms of St. John’s Wort have different indications and different guidelines for their usage. Another difference is that homeopathic Hypericum comes in very diluted form and is FDA approved and regulated. This article offers only a brief introduction to some of the uses of this wonderful medicine. It’s reputation for safety and effectiveness is well known. Hypericum is sold over the counter at most natural health stores and is easy to use with a little self-education regarding homeopathic medicines and how to use them for first-aid purposes.


Your health: Herbal tea helps during pregnancy

By Sandra Clair (Sandra Clair's Opinion)

Hi Sandra, I'm expecting my first baby in a few weeks and am a little nervous about keeping myself and my baby healthy. My pregnancy has been difficult and I'm already exhausted. I understand I need to eat well and rest where I can, but I was wondering what plant medicine may help new mothers? -- Nicky, Wellington

Congratulations on your first baby and the exciting times you have ahead. It's normal for most first time mothers to feel nervous, especially if your pregnancy has been difficult.

Eating well and resting are more important than ever and this is where daily rituals of self-care with nutritive medicinal herbal teas can strengthen you.

Traditional plant medicines have been used by women for generations to help mitigate issues through pregnancy and post birth fatigue. In Switzerland, where traditional plant remedies are a part of the mainstream medical system, a medicinal tea is recommended for pregnant women as part of their obstetric care.

This traditional midwifery formula includes raspberry leaf and lady's mantle to build up the uterine muscle, horsetail for connective tissue strength and yarrow as a circulatory tonic and to prevent excessive bleeding at birth, as well as nourishing nettle, calming lemon balm and uplifting St. John's Wort.

This specialised Swiss pregnancy tea is deemed highly effective in mitigating common complaints during pregnancy and shown empirically to facilitate a swift birth whilst being absolutely safe.

For these reasons, this traditional herbal combination is recommended at Zurich's University Hospital, a teaching hospital for doctors, nurses and midwives.

St John's wort is also an important traditional remedy used in pregnancy. We have referenced medical use of St John's Wort in pregnancy and child birth going back to the 16th century. It is an amazing plant that has benefitted many women to better tolerate the changes that pregnancy brings and it is entirely safe when taken in tea form, even when you are taking pharmaceuticals.

St. John's Wort is an energising tonic that is scientifically proven to alleviate fatigue, anxiety, mild to moderate depression and tiredness. It may also help to strengthen your nervous system to make you more resilient when you are experiencing stress and anxiety.

St John's Wort oil is also a lifesaver that can help prepare your body for childbirth by reducing stretchmarks during pregnancy and also by reducing the chance of perineum tearing at birth. You could ask your midwife to help show you the best way to massage this oil into your perineum. It is best applied twice daily for the last six-eight weeks before birth, in order to build good elasticity in this area.

The 100 per cent organic plant oil is free of mineral oil such as liquid paraffin. You can also use this oil to help healing in sensitive areas post birth. Using St. John's Wort oil on your baby is another great use as their skin is five times thinner at birth than ours and needs nourishment and protection. An additional benefit is that the oil has a calming influence on baby.

Nettle is also a nourishing plant that has been used safely for thousands of years as a traditional medicine - making it perfect for pregnant and new mums. It is high in strengthening minerals including iron, calcium, magnesium, and vitamins A and C, enzymes and important nutrients.

The need for highly nutritive and nourishing foods increase at times of stress and when extra demands are placed on the body, so including nettle into your daily regime is a great way of topping up your stores as you welcome your new baby to the world.

Lemon balm is an excellent herb that helps to soothe your nerves during pregnancy and post child birth as it can really help with that sudden mood shift that some pregnant women experience. It may help relieve depression, relax muscle spasms and ease fluid retention as well.

Remember that hydration is important, so keep up your fluid intake through water, teas, smoothies or high water content fruit and vegetables.


7 Health Benefits of St. John’s Wort

(Dove Med)

St. John’s wort, or Hypericum perforatum, is a yellow flowering plant and medicinal herb that is sold over-the-counter. There are approximately 370 species of the genus Hypericum worldwide that are native to the regions of Europe, Turkey, Ukraine, Russia, Middle East, India, and China. Other names for the herb include Tipton’s weed, rosin rose, goatweed, chase-devil, or Klamath weed.

Here are the 7 health benefits of St. John’s wort: 1. St. John’s wort may be used to treat depression.

It has been well known that St. John’s wort can be used as an herbal treatment for depression. A study of 29 clinical trials with more than 5,000 patients was conducted by Cochrane Collaboration. The review concluded that extracts of St John's wort were better than the placebo in patients with major depression. 2. St. John’s wort may treat Parkinson’s disease.

Research from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM) suggested that St. John’s wort possesses antioxidants that could help reduce neuronal degeneration caused by Parkinson’s disease. 3. St. John’s wort may treat for premenstrual syndrome.

The University of Leeds in the United Kingdom produced a double-blind study and has concluded that St. John’s wort is more effective than placebo treatment for the most common physical and behavioral symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome. 4. St. John’s wort may treat for irritable bowel syndrome.

A randomized, double-blind study from the Mayo Clinic suggested that St. John’s wort has the potential to treat individuals with irritable bowel syndrome. 5. St. John’s wort may have antiviral and antibacterial activities.

A randomized controlled study found that St. John’s wort contains chemicals like hyperforin and pseudohyperforin, which contain activities that photooxidizes pathogens and kills them. 6. St. John’s wort may be used for alcoholism.

An active chemical in St. John’s wort, hyperforin, may be useful for treatment of alcoholism. However, dosage, safety, and efficacy have not been investigated yet. 7. St. John’s wort may help with memory.

Studies have shown that St. John’s wort could alleviate long-term age-related impairment in rats.



Surprising Herb May Help Restless Leg Syndrome

By Michelle Schoffro Cook

The study found that St. John’s Wort effectively boosted certain liver enzymes that tend to drop to low levels in individuals suffering from restless legs. Researchers believe that the herb’s effectiveness in the pilot study may be attributed to the significant enzyme boost, resulting in a calming effect on restless legs.

That is potentially good news for sufferers of the condition who are often placed on a drug known as pramipexole, which has many side-effects, including: fainting, dizziness, suddenly falling asleep, unexpected gambling or sexual urges, tiredness, abnormal dreams, muscle pain, difficulty walking, skin growths, weight gain, difficulty breathing or swallowing, and an increased risk of the skin cancer melanoma. Ironically, the drug can also cause unusual twitching or muscle movements, which are what sufferers of restless leg syndrome are trying to alleviate when they seek medical intervention.

While the study was a small pilot study, the herb showed impressive results, improving the symptoms of 17 of the 21 participants. The study results are also invaluable considering the superior safety record of St. John’s Wort in comparison to pramipexole. Some of the potential side-effects of St. John’s Wort include: photosensitivity when taken within a few hours of direct sunlight exposure, anxiety, headaches, muscle cramps, sweating, weakness, dry mouth, or skin irritation; however, many of these symptoms tend to be infrequent.

Conversely, St. John’s Wort is commonly recommended as a treatment for: anxiety, mild to moderate depression, cancer, nerve pain, and obsessive compulsive disorder. The dosage used in the study to treat restless legs syndrome was 300 mg daily of St. John’s Wort extract for three months. For other health conditions, dosages vary greatly. For more information about dosages for other health conditions, consult my article “St. John’s Wort is for Much More than Depression.”

Because many drugs can interact with this herb it is important to check with your doctor, pharmacist, or natural health provider before taking. Avoid taking if pregnant or nursing.


Benefits of St. John’s Wort

By Deni Bown

Herb Profile: St. John’s Wort

Hypericum perforatum

Portrait

A hardy rhizomatous perennial, reaching 30cm–1m (1–3ft) high, with blunt, narrowly oval leaves and bright yellow, five-petalled, gland-dotted flowers, 2cm (1⁄2in) across, in summer. St. John’s wort grows wild in woods and hedgerows in Europe and temperate parts of Asia. It is naturalized in many other countries, notably in North America where by 1830 it had become a serious weed, and where eradication programmes are carried out to protect livestock from phototoxicity (sensitivity to sunlight) caused by eating the plant.

History

St. John’s wort has been known throughout history as a vulnerary (wound healer) and was in its heyday on the battlefields of the Crusaders. It was also credited with keeping evil away, for which purpose it was hung above doors on the Eve of St. John’s Day (24 June), when witches were thought to be most active. Its mystique was confirmed by the way the juice of the plant turns red on exposure to air — a phenomenon thought to symbolize the blood of St. John the Baptist.

Healing Benefits of St. John’s Wort

Though St. John’s wort is best known today as an anti-depressant and sedative — ‘nature’s Prozac’ — it is historically more important as a healing herb. Traditionally the plant was cut as it came into flower, chopped and packed into jars of vegetable oil which in due course it turned red. The oil was used as a dressing for burns, bruises, injuries, sprains, tennis elbow, sciatica and following surgery. It is particularly effective for deep wounds, injuries caused by crushing, or any other kind of trauma or condition associated with nerve damage. As an anti-depressant, St. John’s wort can be taken in the form of a tea, tablets or tincture to relieve anxiety, nervous tension, menopausal syndrome, bedwetting in children and shingles, as well as mild clinical depression. It is not given to patients suffering from severe depression, or to patients who are already taking certain kinds of medication. High doses of St. John’s wort may cause photosensitivity, especially in fair-skinned people.

Notes for Gardeners

St. John’s wort is easy to grow in well-drained to dry soil, including clay, in sun or partial shade. It is an obvious candidate for the woodland garden or hedgerow, and is equally at home in a perennial wildflower meadow. Start it from seed in autumn or spring, or propagate plants by division when dormant or as new growth begins in the spring. Where conditions suit it, St. John’s wort usually self-sows and forms handsome colonies.




10 Reasons to Love the Herb St. John’s Wort

By Michelle Schoffro Cook

The popular herb St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) often gets an eyebrow raise from the media, even in the face of whole volumes of research espousing its effectiveness for many health concerns. However, St. John’s Wort is one of the best mood-lifting, anti-stress, and anti-depressant herbs out there. But there are many more reasons to reinstate St. John’s Wort as the amazing healing herb it is. I’ve compiled ten of my favorite research-supported uses for St. John’s Wort—all of which are reasons to love this versatile and highly effective herb.

Depression

While the world of psychology continues to question St. John’s Wort, study after study proves its effectiveness for depression, particularly mild to moderate depression. Some studies demonstrate that it is as effective as anti-depressant drugs. While there are fewer studies examining St. John’s Wort’s effectiveness against major depression, it has also been found to be helpful in this regard. Exciting research in the Journal of Zhejiang University Medical Sciences shows that the combination of St. John’s Wort and the nutrient quercetin boost the effects of the herb. Plus, St. John’s Wort’s safety record is far superior to drugs used for depression.

Anxiety

Research published in the medical journal Phytotherapy Research showcases St. John’s Wort’s effectiveness as a natural anti-anxiety medicine. While many people attempt to attribute the herb’s anti-depressant and anti-anxiety effects to the naturally-present compound hypericin, the reality is that St. John’s Wort is a highly complex herb with many different active compounds, including: naphthodianthrones, xanthones, flavonoids, phloroglucinols (hyperforin) and hypericin. Because pharmaceutical drugs tend to contain one substance intended to function using one active mechanism in the body, we often try to compartmentalize herbs in the same way, when they repeatedly show greater effectiveness as a whole than as individual compounds.

Wound Healing

St. John’s Wort flowers have traditionally been macerated into oil to make a natural dressing for wounds. And research examining this application found it to be highly effective in the treatment and healing of wounds.

Cancer

Exciting research in the online journal PLoS One found that hypericin found in St. John’s Wort was highly effective against a type of cancer, melanoma, using three different mechanisms to cause cancer cells to die.

Diabetic Neuropathy

Research published in the Italian medical journal Fitoterapia found that St. John’s Wort and feverfew flower extracts were highly effective against the pain of diabetic neuropathy. What’s more is that the herbal medicine proved comparable to three different drugs used for the condition.

Migraines

St. John’s Wort has proven itself effective for other types of pain as well, namely in the treatment of migraines. Research published in the medical journal Phytomedicine found that St. John’s Wort blocked pain receptors involved in migraines, making it an effective natural treatment for migraine sufferers.

Menopause

Research published in the medical journal Menopause found that St. John’s Wort significantly reduced the frequency and severity of hot flashes in menopausal, perimenopausal, and post-menopausal women. Perimenopause is considered the ten years prior to menopause. Post-menopause begins one year after periods have altogether stopped.

Alzheimer’s and Dementia

Swiss scientists published a novel study in the medical journal Brain Pathology, in which they found that St. John’s Wort has a protective effect against beta-amyloid plaques linked with Alzheimer’s disease.

Parkinson’s disease

Exciting new research in the medical journal Cell and Molecular Neurobiology found that St. John’s Wort holds promise in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.

Antioxidant Activity The same study published in Cell and Molecular Neurobiology also found that St. John’s Wort has potent antioxidant activity, meaning that it destroys harmful free radicals before they can do damage to the cells and tissues of the body. Because free radical damage is involved in aging and many diseases, these findings suggest that St. John’s Wort may have many other far-reaching applications.

St. John’s Wort is available in capsule, tablet, dried flowers, in teabags, tincture (alcohol extract), glycerite (glycerin extract) and oil forms. The oil form is suitable for skin applications such as wounds or to alleviate the pain of diabetic neuropathy. Simply apply the oil two to three times daily until you experience symptom improvement. For capsules, tablets, teas, tinctures, and glycerites, follow package instructions as they differ greatly from one product to another. While some people prefer supplements containing only one of the active ingredients in St. John’s Wort—hypericin—I prefer tinctures of the plant since they contain a wider range of active ingredients. Depending on the application, you may need to allow up to several weeks to notice results.

Because some drugs can interact with St. John’s Wort, avoid combining certain pharmaceutical drugs with St. John’s wort. Check with your pharmacist to see if medications you may be taking interact with St. John’s Wort. Never discontinue depression medications without consulting your physician. Additionally, while St. John’s Wort is actually quite safe, it can cause photosensitivity in some people.

Pictures of the St. John's Wort Plant and Flowers