St. John’s wort is a herb. Its flowers and leaves are used to make medicine. St. John’s wort is most commonly used for depression and conditions that sometimes go along with depression such as anxiety, tiredness, loss of appetite and trouble sleeping. The benefit seems similar to that of antidepressants. There is some strong scientific evidence that it is effective for mild to moderate depression. They are turning to St. John’s wort because many of the psychotropic drugs used to treat depression have some severe side effects, and they hope that a medicine derived from a plant will cause fewer problems.
It has been used in folk medicine for thousands of years as a painkiller or sedative too, as well as to treat minor to severe health conditions including burns and bruises, mood swings, sleep disorders, bed-wetting in children, malaria, lung and kidney problems, tuberculosis, uterine cramping, PMS, hemorrhoids, peptic ulcers, gastrointestinal problems, breathing problems, hangovers and alcoholism.
USES OF ST. JOHN’S WORT
- HANGOVERS AND ALCOHOLISM. A tea made with the flowering tops of St. John’s Wort may be effective.
- PARKINSON’S DISEASE. Studies also suggest that antioxidant activity of the herb may help with neural degeneration associated with the onset of Parkinson’s disease.
- SINUS CONGESTION AND CHRONIC COUGHING. St. John’s Wort has antibiotic and antiviral activity that may help relieve phlegm congestion, sinus infection, flu and bronchitis symptoms.
- WOUNDS AND BRUISES. St. John’s Wort has antibacterial and analgesic activity.
- MILD TO MODERATE DEPRESSION. It appears to improve mood and decrease related symptoms such as anxiety and insomnia. By helping to regulate the hormonal balance in the body, St. John’s Wort is able to get the metabolism and internal clock back in line, providing help for sleeplessness, irritability, and chronic fatigue.
You shouldn’t try to treat severe depression — where you may not be able to function day to day, or have thoughts of harming yourself or others — with herbs. Always see a doctor if your depression is making it hard for you to function.
St. John’s Wort is to be used only by the patient for whom it is prescribed. It is not to be shared. St. John’s wort may cause serious interactions with prescription drugs, herbs, or supplements. Therefore, people using any medications should consult their healthcare providers, including a pharmacist, prior to starting therapy.
St. John’s Wort can be purchased at most herbal food stores. When buying St. John’s Wort Extract, look for one that is extracted from flowers of the herb and has at least 0.3% of hypericin. It can be obtained in many forms: capsules, tablets, tinctures, teas, and oil-based skin lotions. Chopped or powdered forms of the dried herb are also available.