St. John's wort
Hypericum perforatum

St. John's wort - Hypericum perforatum (in the Guttiferae or Saint John's wort family)

Parts used: Flowering tops mixture of buds and open flowers, best used fresh.

Taste/smell: Astringent, sweet, bitter.

Tendencies: Slightly warming.

Dosage: 1:1 fresh strength liquid extract: 10-60 drops 1-4 times per day. Infused oil is used externally.

Mental picture and specific indications: St. John's wort is specific for injuries to the spinal cord and nerves, including nerve injuries to fingers and toes. It is to be considered with all chronic pain in conjunction with nervous exhaustion or pain with a sharp shooting characteristic. It is indicated for depression due to feelings of isolation, lack of community and a sense of being disconnected from the rest of the world. St. John's wort facilitates the body receiving sunlight.

Use: (a) Antiviral, (b) Anti-inflammatory, (c) Astringent, (d) Antibacterial, (e) Vulnerary, (f) Nervine, (g) Sedative, (h) Hepatoprotective, (i) Nerve trophorestorative, (j) Antioxidant.

St. John's wort is used for depression, fear, insomnia, anorexia, anxiety or feelings of worthlessness. Usually the herb needs to be taken long term to see results in alleviating anxiety and depression. Results are usually seen within 2-6 weeks, although some people report immediate effecdts. The antidepressive effect of St. John's wort appears to partially be due to blocking the resorption of serotonin by postsynaptic receptors. It may be increasing light utilization and influencing the serotonin-melatonin metabolism. One clinical trial had success using St. John's wort for seasonal affective disorder. The constituent, hypericin, raises the concentration of melatonin, a hormone formed from serotonin that has a sleep-regulating function. Hypericin was thought until recently to be the main active constituent in Saint John's wort. Recent research indicates that the constituents hyperforin and bioflavones are also involved. Hyperforin is a potent uptake inhibitor of serotonin, dopamine, noradrenaline, GABA and L-Glutamate. St. John's wort is used for nerve pain, shingles, night terrors, hemorrhoids with pain, enuresis in children, facial neuralgia after dental extractions, toothache and neurasthenia. Internally, the oil is used for gastric inflammation and ulcers; and warmed, the oil is used as a retention enema for inflammation of the colon. Externally, the oil is used for burns, bruises, muscular pain, diaper rash and cradle cap.

Contraindications: St. John's wort is contraindicated in pregnancy due to the emmenagogue and abortifacient effects. Photosensitivity may be possible, especially in fair skinned people. Sleeping time of narcotics is enhanced and the effect of reserpine is antagonized. Since St. John's wort appears to inhibit serotonin uptake and combining serotonin uptake inhibitors with monoamine oxidase(MAO) inhibitors can cause dangerous rises in blood pressure, until more information is available it would be unwise to combine St. John's wort with MAO inhibitors.

Copyright 1999 by Sharol Tilgner, N.D. (ISBN 1-881517-02-0) - all rights reserved.