St. John’s Wort
Saint Johnsworth is an upright bush, growing to a metre tall, with oblong, perforated leaves and bright yellow flowers. The leaves are dotted with translucent glands. The flowers and leaves of this plant release a red oil when pinched. There are many explanations for the appellation ’St John’s wort’ (wort means ’plant’ in Old English); one is that the plant was named after Saint John the Baptist because the flowers were said to bloom on the anniversary of his execution.
Europe, Asia and Africa.
Naphthodianthrones, flavonoids, phloroglucinols and xanthones. Hypericin, one of the naphthodianthrones, has traditionally been considered the main active ingredient, but it is not known whether it is the antidepressant compound.
St. John’s Wort has been used as herbal medicine for over 2000 years for a variety of illnesses. Many of these have been studied, and proven to be effective. Today, many physicians treat mild to moderate depression, anxiety, and mood swings due to menopause with St. John’s Wort. These problems of course have modern pharmaceutical treatments, but the St. John’s Wort preparations are just as effective for most, and do not carry the same side effects. Other maladies treated with St. John’s Wort are ulcers, menstrual cramps, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), scrapes and abrasions. It is also used as a muscle relaxant. There is research in progress with HIV and cancer as well.
St. John’s Wort is available as tablets, capsules, drops and teas and is produced by many manufacturers. An oil form is available for external use but has no place in treating depression.
The optimum adult dose of St. John’s Wort for treating depression appears to be 300 mg of plant extract orally three times daily.
Do not use in combination with MAO-inhibitors or other antidepressants, nor when pregnant.