benefits of St. John’s wort

St. John’s wort is a flowering plant from the family of Hypericaceae. It is an antidepressant medicinal herb.

The plant is a native of Europe and Asia and has subsequently spread throughout the world. Since the plant has been traditionally harvested on 24th june, St. John’s day, it is called St. John’s wort.

The plant thrives in winter and summer seasons and the rainfall in both seasons are adequate for growth.  Its ability to alter the growth pattern during different climates makes it a survivor even during adverse climates, withstanding climate changes.

It contains flavonoids, phenolic acids, tannins, saturated fatty acids, alkanols, vitamins like carotenoids, choline, nicotinamide, nicotinic acid etc., napthodianthrones, phlonoglucinols, volatile oils and many others.

Health benefits of St. John’s wort

With a vast number of constituents, St. John’s wort provides impressive health benefits. They include its potential to treat and cure depression. Providing relief from anxiety, keeping the mood happy by improving mood swings, providing relief from the uncomfortable and severe pre-menstrual symptoms, eliminating addictive tendencies and after effects of withdrawal from addictions, anti-inflammatory functions, preventing cancer and improving the nervous system are a few other benefits.

The above statement strengthens a view that St. John’s wort is an all-cure herbal remedy. Salient points supporting particular benefits are:

Anti-depression

St. John’s wort is a natural antidepressant. The rare combination of hypercin and hyperforin, anti-depressant chemicals in it prevents uptake of neurotransmitters like serotonin dopamine and norepinephrine. Due to such inhibitions, the body gets rid of the symptoms of depression. You can also use the herb for conditions like anxiety and loss of appetite which gives room for depression. St. John’s wort is useful in the treatment of somatoform disorders which are essentially psychic disorders.

Treatment of Addiction and Withdrawal

People who consume alcohol or other addictive substances and those who continuously smoke find it difficult to resist the craving temptation. Similarly they are affected by withdrawal symptoms once they decide to totally withdraw from these addictions. In either case, medicines prepared from St. John’s wort are useful in providing recovery from the symptoms of addiction and withdrawal.

StJohnswort

Treatment of arthritis and gout

The rich anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds present in St. John’s wort reduces the pain due to gout and arthritis. It is also useful in treatment of muscle pain. By lowering inflammation in the cardiovascular system it reduces the blood pressure and reduces stress on the heart.

Pregnancy and menopause

Pregnant women experience acute pain in the stretched areas or hemorrhoids. As pain killers are not to advisable during pregnancy, topical application of salves and pastes made of St. John’s wort are useful to reduce pregnancy related pains. Being anti-depressants, the compounds of St. John’s  wort are helpful in reducing the mood swings both at the pre-menstrual and post-menstrual stages or menopause. You can use St. John ’s wort formulations to reduce pre-menstrual cramps, irritation, depression and menopausal symptoms like hot flashes.

Skin care

You can use St. John’s wort in external application in the form of tincture or ointment to heal the burns and bruises on the skin. The properties of St. John’s wort stimulates circulation of blood carrying oxygen to the skin cells and heals the skin.

Treatment of viral infection

You can treat some of the viral infections like influenza, mononucleosis and HIV with St. John’s  Wort. You can also use it in the treatment of AIDS and hepatitis-C since it contains anti-bacterial and astringent properties. However conclusive evidence of complete cure of viral infection by St. John’s wort is yet to be established.

benefits of St.John's wort

Other benefits

You can apply ointments containing the herb to cure scars due to cesarean section. (C-section). Apply the ointment on the relevant area thrice daily for a continuous period of at least two weeks to remove the scar completely.

Herbal practitioners use an extract of the St. John ’s Wort in the place of tincture used by some skin care practitioners, Since the whole plant is of medicinal value, you could use any form of the plant for relief.

Caution

St. John’s wort can cause serious interference in the activity of other drugs consumed. Hence the use of it has been banned by some countries.

Research on the curative properties of St. John’s wort is ongoing. You must always study medicines containing St. John’s wort carefully studied for the warning notices on the label. St. John’s wort consumption also cause some side effects like dizziness, nausea and fatigue, and so you must use this herb with care after consulting a medical practitioner only.

Ramya Srinivasan, PDGBA, earned her Master’s degree in Business. As a result of her passion in native medicine, she got her Diploma in Traditional Siddha Medicine from Bharat Sevak Samaj registered under the Indian Planning Commission. She is certified by Stanford University School of Medicine in Introduction to Food and Health.