St. John's Wort (Hypericum Perforatum)

St. John's Wort Benefits

St. John's Wort has become popular again as an antidepressant. Also known as Perforate St John's-wort, Common Saint John's wort and St John's wort. It is the number one treatment in Germany and has been extensively studied by Commission E, the scientific advisory panel to the German government. It contains several chemicals, including hypericin, hyperforin, and pseudohypericin, which are thought to be the major sources of antidepressant activity. In several studies of laboratory animals and humans, one or more of the chemicals in St. John's wort appeared to delay or decrease re-absorption of the neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin by nerve cells.

Neurotransmitters are chemicals that carry messages from nerve cells to other cells. Ordinarily, once the message has been delivered, neurotransmitters are re-absorbed and inactivated by the cells that released them. Chemicals in St. John's wort may keep more of these antidepressant neurotransmitters available for the body to utilise. Multiple studies have shown that St. John's wort may be effective in relieving mild to moderate depression, although maximum antidepressant effects may take several weeks to develop.

Read More: Top 7 herbs to help fight depression

St. John's Wort is an MAO inhibitor and should not be used with alcohol and some other foods.

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.

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.

It 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.

St. John's Wort Herb Notes / Side Effects

Latin Name

Hypericum perforatum

Common Names

Amber Touch-and-Heal, Hardhay, Hypericum, Klamath Weed, Millepertuis, Rosin Rose, SJW, Tipton Weed,Perforate St John's-wort, Common Saint John's wort and St John's wort,


Strengthens the nervous system and speeds healing. Analgesic (pain relieving), Antidepressant, Antiviral, Anti-inflammatory, Antispasmodic, Diuretic (increases the flow of urine), Emmenagogic (Promotes menstrual flow), Nutritive tonic


Hypothyroidism Neuralgia, sciatica and back pain Pain from deep wounds Mild depression (not severe depression) Shingles, cold sores and herpes Spinal problems Joint pain Aging Trauma Eczema

Indicated for

Stomachache, colic, lung congestion, insomnia, anemia, headaches, jaundice, catarrh, Carcinoma (type of cancer), bedwetting, melancholy, uterine cramps, menstrual problems, antidote for intestinal worms. Source of hypercin which may counter the HIV virus.

Side Effects

Not to be taken together with the contraceptive pill, anti-epilepsy treatments and a number of other medications including anti-depressants. 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.

Both oral and topical forms of St. John's wort may make unprotected skin more sensitive to sunlight or artificial light in sun tanning parlors. Some evidence from case reports also seems to associate a higher risk of cataracts with possible eye sensitisation to light when St. John's wort is taken. If you use St. John's wort, be sure to use sunscreen and eye protection when exposed to sunlight or artificial light used in sun tanning. Side effects reported from taking St. John's wort by mouth include: Dizziness, Drowsiness, Dry mouth, Headache, Irritability, Upset stomach.

Rare cases of serotonin syndrome, a potentially dangerous oversupply of serotonin in the body, have been attributed to taking St. John's wort. Uncontrolled serotonin syndrome may result in coma, seizures, and death. Symptoms of serotonin syndrome include: Confusion, Euphoria, Fever, Hallucinations, Inability to coordinate muscles, Nausea, Restlessness, Shakiness, Sweating, Vomiting.


take St. John's Wort if you are having Chemotherapy, or will be starting chemotherapy within several weeks, as St. John's wort affects the metabolism (breakdown) of chemotherapy drugs by the liver and therefore seems to make these drugs much less effective.

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Hannah Karoline 's avatar  Hannah Karoline 30/09/2015 23:06

Where do I start with this amazing supplement!? I've struggled for a couple years now with severe mood swings/anxiety/mil depression. I also have A.D.D. I'm only 20 years old, and I didn't really want to go to the doctor and have all of that on my health record. I've been on St. John's Wort for a little over a week now. I take two pills three times a day and one before bed. My mood swings have decreased to almost none. I haven't felt anxious, and my depression is non existent at this point. My A.D.D seems to be better controlled, I don't fidget, I don't get as sidetracked, and I can complete tasks that were difficult to complete before. It feels like when my body is about to have a burst of stress or anxiety, it does the opposite. I get bursts of happiness.
One negative thing that happens with me is that I get tired mid-day, But other than that, I recommend this!

janet 's avatar  janet 19/05/2014 01:21

the doctor placed me originally on chemical treatments for anxiety and depression linked with hormonal changes of the menopause. the chemical treatments were pristique and escitalopram. both these chemicals had severe side effects: stomach upset, headaches, blurry vision, fatigue and irritability. a friend told me about st johns wort. I have had no side effects, it helps my anxiety. my mood swings from menopause has lessened and I am able to face the world with a positive outlook. I recommend this herb to any one with mild anxiety or depression who is going through menopause. St johns wort combined with <a href="">black cohosh</A> is a brilliant mixture for the horrible emotional swings of menopause.

3 people liked this.
Crusherpsg 's avatar  Crusherpsg 24/11/2010 22:34

45/Cau/Male. My desire for alcohol has decreased significantly since I began taking St. John's wort. I feel things are back on track now. I feel better about life all together. I really didn't think about it until recently about how my desire for alcohol has decreased. I haven't had a drink in 9 days even though I have beer and hard liquor in the house. I just don't feel like drinking anymore.

3 people liked this. 's avatar 19/04/2015 17:35

I just drink it for my healh! I have nothing wrong with me, but why wait until then? I also find the STJ Wort ads a subtle and pleasant taste to several of my existing tea recipes.

poopboy69 's avatar  poopboy69 09/01/2014 21:38

i love taking overdoses of grapefruit

poopboy69 's avatar  poopboy69 09/01/2014 21:37


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