Also called as Hypericum Perforatum, St. John’s Wort is a flowering plant from the Hypericaceae family that is known for its anti-depressant and mood lifting properties. The name St. John’s Wort is derived from its traditional flowering and harvesting on St. John’s Day on June 24. It is native to Europe and Asia but can also be found in the temperate regions of India, China, US and Canada. It has also been described as one of the most commonly used herbs in the United States. (1)
St. John’s Wort has been used traditionally for mood disorders and healing of wounds. When applied topically, it is used to treat skin injuries, nerve pain, burns, and even haemorrhoids. In addition to that, folk people use this supplement to help rid of evil spirits.
Although the exact mechanism of action of St. John’s Wort is not yet fully understood, it is believed to easily cross the blood brain barrier to deliver its results. This supplement is known for its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial effects.
St. John’s Wort works as an SSRI or a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor. SSRIs are antidepressant medications that affect certain neurotransmitters in the brain specifically Serotonin. It blocks the reabsorption of Serotonin thus, increasing the level and activity of the said neurotransmitter. Serotonin is responsible for an individual’s mood, pain perception, and other bodily functions (6). With St. John’s Wort’s influence on Serotonin, the result would be a reduction in stress and anxiety as well as an enhanced mood. Also, users report that they have a greater sense of well-being and have fewer depressive symptoms. With this property that St. John’s Wort possesses, it would be of great benefit to students and professional who are seeking to have an enhanced mood to increase their overall productivity levels.
Researchers have also found that St. John’s Wort contain active ingredients that may be responsible for its anti-depressant effects. This includes Hypercin, Flavonoids, Tannins and Hyperforin. It is believed that the effects are greatly attributed to Hyperforin.
At the present, St. John’s Wort is used as an herbal medication for depression. In Germany specifically, it is sold as a prescription medicine for mild depression, especially in children and adolescents. The extracts of which are similar to the effects of standard anti-depressant medications. It is also believed to be an excellent alternative to other SSRIs because it has fewer and milder side effects.
In the medical field, St. John’s Wort has been promising to be a potential treatment for alcoholism, or at least improve its symptoms. It may also be used with ear infections, alongside with garlic, calendula and mullein. Moreover, it can help people quit smoking. However, further researches and clinical studies should still be conducted regarding these claims.
It is very crucial for any drug or supplement to be taken at the right amount and frequency for it to produce the desired effects while possibly eliminating or minimizing the undesired ones. With the case of St. John’s Wort, how much of it do we really need each day? Since this supplement is herbal, it is best to determine the purity of its extract. The typical dose of St. John’s Wort ranges from 900 mg to 1,800 mg per day. This daily dose may then be divided and taken into multiple administrations within the day for a more constant and sustained release of benefits.
When starting with any new drug or supplement, it would be best to start off with the lowest possible dose to see how you respond and then gradually increasing it over time. You might also want to consider consulting your doctor or healthcare provider first since a person’s condition and health status may play a role.
Although St. John’s Wort has not yet been approved by the FDA, users report that it is fairly safe to use and is well-tolerated. However, long term use of this herbal supplement needs further studies. St. John’s Wort may be associated with several mild side effects such as gastrointestinal problems, allergic skin reactions, tiredness, restlessness, dizziness, dry mouth, weight gain, anxiety, headache, allergic skin reactions, and sexual and erectile dysfunction. (3)
In addition to that, St. John’s Wort may also produce severe side effects such as severe allergic reactions, agitation, confusion, fever, muscle spasms, nausea, profuse sweating, shivering, tremors, unusual mental and mood changes. (3) When these severe side effects of St. John’s Wort are experienced, immediately contact your medical professional for proper medical response. (3)
It is also important to know that St. John’s Wort may result in Serotonin syndrome. Serotonin syndrome is a potentially life threatening drug reaction that results from too much Serotonin in the Central Nervous System (4). It may cause confusion, fever, hallucinations, nausea, loss of muscle coordination, sweating, and shakiness. When these effects are encountered, immediately stop using St. John’s Wort and consult a medical professional.
Yes, it is important to know that some drugs and supplements should not be taken alongside St. John’s Wort since the compounds may interact with each other and may produce harmful effects. Since St. John’s Wort acts as an SSRI by increasing the Serotonin levels in the brain, it should not be taken with other SSRIs or Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor. This is mainly because taking two SSRIs could result in excessively high levels of Serotonin in the brain and may cause Serotonin Syndrome, a drug reaction previously discussed earlier.
Another drug that should not be used with St. John’s Wort would be Alprazolam (Xanax). Alprazolam is a drug commonly used for anxiety and its effectiveness may be decreased when taken with St. John’s Wort. (5)
In addition to that, other medications wherein St. John’s Wort will decrease their effectiveness would be birth control or contraceptive pills and Digoxin (Lanoxin). Birth control pills contain estrogen and the body needs to breakdown the estrogen content in it. Now with St. John’s Wort, it increases the breakdown of estrogen and therefore decreases the effectivenss of the drug. Digoxin on the other hand, a cardiac medication, should not be used also with St. John’s Wort. This is becase the latter decreases how much Digoxin is absorbed and therefore, decreases the effectiveness of Digoxin. (5)
Other drugs and supplements that should not be used also with St. John’s Wort include Fenfluramine (Pondimin), Imatinib (Gleevec), Irinotecan (Camptosar), Medications changed by the liver such as CYP2C19 and CYP3A4 substrates, medications for HIV or AIDS, medications moved by pumps in cells, Mephenytoin (Mesantoin), Omeprazole (Prilosec, Zegerid), Phenobarbital (Luminal), Phenprocoumon, Phenytoin (Dilantin), Tacrolimus (Prograf, Protopic), and Warfarin (Coumadin). (5)
When planning to start with the use of St. John’s Wort, it would be best to consult your doctor or healthcare provider first. This is because a person’s status, health condition, and current drugs and supplements taken may play a role.
You can purchase St. John’s Wort online and is also readily available over the counter. Meaning to say, you will not need any prescription from your doctor in order to buy one. Buy St. John's Wort now and experience an improvement in your mood as well as a reduction in your stress and anxiety levels.References:
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