What Is St John’s Wort?
St John’s Wort is a herb. Its botanical name is Hypericum perforatum. St John’s Wort has been used traditionally to relieve the symptoms of low mood and mild anxiety. It has been used successfully in countries such as Germany for the treatment of depression, and has been studied many times for its effectiveness.
What does it do in the Body?
St John’s Wort contains many phytochemicals (plant chemicals) including hypericin, hyperforin and pseudohypericin, which are thought to be the major sources of anti-depressant activity. Several studies of both humans and animals seems to indicate that the active constituents of St John’s Wort seem to delay or decrease the re-absorption of the neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine by nerve cells. These could be described as ‘anti-depressant neurotransmitters’. By making these neurotransmitters more available to us, there is more for the body to utilise, and this is how it may make us happier. St John’s Wort may also play a role in digestive function, supporting the liver and gall bladder specifically, encouraging the flow of bile, while protecting the liver and encouraging detoxification.
Why do I need St John’s Wort?
St John’s Wort may help to soothe anxiety and nervous tension. It is a gentle, restorative herb that may help to strengthen the nervous system, the immune system, and it may increase the body’s adaptation in extreme and stressful situations. It may help to maintain a positive mood, emotional balance and help to restore healthy sleep patterns. Being able to relax is also very important in dealing with stress. We can’t necessarily stop the amount of stress in our lives, but we can modify the way we react to it, and St John’s Wort may help us to cope more calmly with stress. Externally St John’s Wort may be used in a cream to help ease neuralgia (nerve pain). Those with shingles nerve pain may find Hypericum cream helpful.
How do I take St John’s Wort?
St John’s Wort can be taken in the form of a capsule, tablet, tincture or externally as part of a cream or ointment. Taken internally, it is best consumed with food. Please do note that St John’s Wort may interact with many medications from the doctor, such as anti-depressants, epilepsy medications and the oral contraceptive pill. Check with our Nutritionists if you need to. St John’s Wort may, in certain individuals may cause photosensitivity, meaning that you may burn easier in the sun. If you are taking St John’s Wort, please be aware of this factor if it is sunny, or if you’re going on holiday.