St Johns Wort Benefits

St Johns Wort
Latin Name

Hypericum perforatum

Also Known As

Johnswort, Amber, Touch-and-heal, Goat weed, Hardhay, Klamath Weed, Rosin Rose, Hypericum, Tipton weed, St. John's Wort


North America, Europe, Asia Minor, Russia, India and China

Parts Used

Tops and flowers

Traditional Use and Health Benefits

St Johns wort plant has a long history of use in herbal medicine. It was used traditionally to treat wounds, inflammation, ulcers, sciatica, neuralgia and rheumatism as it is anti-inflammatory and pain relieving in action.

However its more modern use is as an anti-depressant, to lift and balance the mood. It is also said to alleviate night terrors in children. It is also used to treat anxiety and depression in menopause. It contains hypericin, a natural mood booster and hyperforin which inhibits the breakdown of serotonin. As serotonin is essential for brain balance, St John's Wort helps to keep this at a healthy level. It also contains melatonin which promotes healthy sleep. When taken for anxiety or depression it takes 2-3 weeks to have any effect so it is worth pursuing.

St Johns wort has also been successful in the treatment of other mental/emotional disorders such as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and pre menstrual tension (PMT).

Typical Use

St Johns Wort Herbal Tincture
Made from Fresh Herb
Take 2-4 mls up to 3 times a day.
or as recommended by a herbal practitioner.

St Johns Wort cut leaf
1-2 teasp cut herb per 1 cup of boiling water up to 3 times a day.
or as recommended by a herbal practitioner.

Organic St John's Wort herbal Herbal Powder
1-2 grams up to 3 times a day
or as recommended by a herbal practitioner.

Folklore and History

Ancient Greeks believed that the fragrance of St. John's Wort would cause the evil spirits to fly away. The plant was given magical powers. In ancient Greece, the herb was used to treat many ailments, including sciatica and poisonous reptile bites. In Europe it was used for the topical treatment of wounds and burns. It is also a folk remedy for kidney and lung ailments as well as depression. Hypericum was recommended by Hippocrates for "nervous unrest." It has a 2400-year history of folk use for anxiety; sleep disturbances, and worry.

St Johns Wort

Essential oil, containing caryophyllene,methyl-2-octane, n-nonane, n-decanal, a and b-pinene, and traces of limonene and myrcene. Hypericins, prenylated phloroglucin derivatives, hypericin, pseudohypericin and hyperforin, flavonoids, epicatechin.
Hypericum extract contains numerous active compounds that together create the antidepressant and antianxiety effects. Hypericum is the first known substance to enhance three key neurotransmitters- serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. Preliminary research suggests that St. John's Wort also lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol and enhances the activity of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a naturally occurring tranquilizer in the brain. It is a very mild, clinically insignificant monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitor.
The mechanism by which St. John's Wort acts as an antidepressant is not fully understood. Early research indicated that this herb mildly inhibits the enzyme monoamine oxidase (MAO). MAO is responsible for the breakdown of two brain chemicals - serotonin and norepinephrine. By inhibiting MAO and increasing norepinephrine, St. John's Wort may exert a mild antidepressive action. The antidepressant or mood elevating effects of St. John's Wort were originally thought to be due solely to hypericin, but hypericin does not act alone. St. John's Wort relies on the complex interplay of many constituents such as xanthones and flavonoids for its antidepressant actions. St. John's Wort may also block the receptors that bind serotonin.


Side effects can be experienced, such as fatigue, stomach upsets, headaches. Not to be taken together with the contraceptive pill, anti-epilepsy treatments, 5-htp, and a number of other medications including anti-depressants. St John's wort should not be combined with a MAO inhibitor antidepressant such as Nardil (phenelzine) or Parnate (tranylcypromine). This combination can produce a dangerous rise in blood pressure or hypertensive crisis, along with severe anxiety, fever, muscle tension, and confusion. After stopping a MAO inhibitor, one should wait at least four weeks before taking other antidepressants, including Hypericum. If you are taking any medication consult your doctor before starting St John's Wort.
It should not be taken together with foods that contain tyramine i.e. cheese, red wine, preserved meats and yeast extracts. This is due to a MAO inhibition effect.
There are some recent reports that suggest that St. John's Wort may interfere with medications given during organ transplant (such as kidney and liver.) Do not take this herb if you have undergone or plan to undergo a transplant operation.
Do not use St. John's Wort during pregnancy or lactation.
St. John's Wort makes the skin more light sensitive. Persons with fair skin should avoid exposure to strong sunlight and other sources of ultraviolet light, such as tanning beds. These individuals may suffer a dermatitis, severe burning, and possibly blistering of the skin. The severity of these effects will depend on the amount of the plant consumed and the length of exposure to sunlight. Some experts suggest that all individuals avoid sunlight when using St John's wort, especially when taking large quantities.
St John's wort has a good safety record over centuries of folk medicine. In contrast to synthetic antidepressants, there have been no reports of Hypericum related deaths. Drug monitoring studies on over 7000 patients and twenty-seven double-blind research studies confirm its safety. The extensive use of Hypericum by millions of people has not resulted in reports of serious side effect