St Johns Wort Benefits & Information

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.