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St Johns Wort – (Hypericum perforatum)

St Johns Wort

St Johns wort is a small plant with yellow flowers native to Europe. Its common name refers to St. John's Day, which is June 24 and the usual time of year when the flowers are ready for harvest. This herb has been introduced to many other places in the world, and has been labeled as a noxious weed in many places. It can cause severe side effects in livestock that eat it like photosensitization, depression of the central nervous system, spontaneous abortion and death. This herb is also grown commercially in Europe. Use of St. John's wort as medicine dates all the way back to ancient Greece. Historically, it has also been used as an abortifacient.

Key Medicinal Uses

Internally – St Johns wort is widely used to treat depression. It has been found very useful for mild depression and to treat children and adolescents, but studies show that it is not strong enough to help severe depression. It may also relieve anxiety. St. John's wort may also decrease the intake of alcohol.

Some people use this herb to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder. It is also useful for peri-menopausal symptoms and premenstrual syndrome. Other disorders that may be helped by this herb include seasonal affective disorder (SAD), HIV and somatoform disorders.

Externally – St. John's wort also helps nerve pain and can be applied topically to painful areas in a cream or salve. This herb can also be used to treat dermatitis.

Other Uses – St. John's wort is sometimes used to flavor distilled spirits. The flowers and stems also produce yellow and red dye.

Parts Used

Flowers – The flowering tops are used medicinally.


St Johns wort may cause photosensitivity, so don't stay out in the sun any longer than necessary when you take this herb. Other side effects include dry mouth, dizziness, anxiety, gastrointestinal problems, headache, fatigue and sexual dysfunction.

St. John's wort may interact with antidepressants, birth control pills, cyclosporine, digoxin, indinavir and other drugs used for HIV, irinotecan and other cancer drugs, and warfarin and other anticoagulants. When combined with other antidepressants, you may experience side effects like anxiety, headache, nausea and confusion.

Some people may be allergic to St. John's wort. It should only be used during pregnancy and nursing with caution and the guidance of a skilled practitioner.

Preparation and Dosage

Commercial preparations of St Johns wort are readily available in many forms. A standard oral dose is 900 to 1,000 mg of extract per day.

St Johns Wort Herbal Remedies Top