Benefits of St Johns Wort

Side Effects of St Johns Wort

St Johns Wort

All about the benefits of St Johns Wort & the side effects of St Johns Wort ....

From the leaves, stems, and flowers of this common shrub-like perennial come the health benefits of St Johns Wort.

Native to Great Britain and Europe, the plant grows to a height of thirty-two inches and bears clusters of yellow flowers that have oval, elongate petals. Its leaves are dotted with glands that when pinched releases a red oil.

Like many other herbs, it appears that St Johns Wort has many different active constituents. Found in both the leaves and flowers are active components called hypericin and pseudohypericin. The plant also contains essential oils and flavonoids. Although hypericin and pseudohypericin are the best-studied active components, researchers still don't know exactly how the herb works. Hypericin has long been identified as a key medicinal ingredient, but there has been recent research to suggest that these best-studied components may not be the most active in the plant, which as we mentioned earlier, also contain essential oils and flavonoids.

Nonetheless, Europeans for centuries have used the therapeutic benefits of St Johns Wort to calm jangled nerves and heal wounds, among other ills.

How Can the Health Benefits of St Johns Wort …Benefit You?

In the 1980's, scientists discovered that this herbal healer is as potent an antidepressant as pharmaceutical medications. More specifically, over two dozen studies have found St Johns Wort is more effective than a placebo in treating mild to moderate depression. As such, today the herb is more popular than ever as it is one of the most touted natural treatments for mild to moderate depression. In fact, according to a 1996 report in the New York Times, in Germany, St Johns Wort outsells the pharmaceutical antidepressant Prozac four to one.

Also of interest is that the herb may be helpful for seasonal affective disorder (SAD) – a condition where people experience depression in the fall and winter months from, it is believed, the lack of sunlight during those months. In addition to its powerful antidepressant benefits, St Johns Wort has also been used to calm feelings of anxiety and ease stress.

But wait, there are a few more health benefits of St Johns Wort

St Johns Wort also harbors antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and pain-relieving properties. Therefore, it has been found to be particularly effective, when applied topically in the form of an ointment in aiding in the healing of burns, cuts, scrapes, and minor skin irritations. It is also used topically to help combat nerve pain and muscle cramps.

Lastly, there are a few intriguing possibilities for this herbal healer. Some test-tube studies indicate that St Johns Wort might be useful against herpes simplex, influenza, and the Epstein-Barr virus. However, clinical trials are still needed to confirm these findings.

Side Effects and Precautions of St Johns Wort

First, anyone on prescription medications, such as antidepressants, should talk to their physician before taking St Johns Wort. Put simply, interactions between medications and St Johns Wort are certainly possible and, as such, you really do need to talk to your physician before starting this herb.

Pregnant and nursing women should refrain from taking St Johns Wort as it has not been sufficiently evaluated.

Some potential side effects from St Johns Wort include: upset stomach, fatigue, dizziness, dry mouth, constipation, hives or other skin rash, restlessness, headache, and, although not common, a sensitivity to sunlight (especially people with fair skin).

Tips on Selecting a Supplement

Maximize the health benefits of St Johns Wort with these recommendations when selecting a supplement.

1. Select a supplement standardized to contain 0.3% hypericin and 3.0% hyperforin for depression. Research findings indicate that hyperforin, which is another active substance in St Johns Wort may even have more potent mood-enhancing properties than hypericin.

2. Select your St Johns Wort supplement from a manufacturer that follows pharmaceutical GMP compliance, which adhere to the most stringent manufacturing practices. This is crucial because dietary supplements in the U.S. are largely unregulated, and many products on the market do not have the amount of ingredients stated on the label, or, even worse, they harbor contaminants.

In fact, as a consumer you have a 1 in 5 chance of buying a supplement that actually contains the amounts of ingredients stated on the product label and/or one that does not harbor contaminates.

Remember, to reap the health benefits of St Johns Wort select a supplement standardized to contain 0.3% hypericin and 3.0% hyperforin for depression.



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We hope this webpage discussing the benefits of St Johns Wort was useful to you.

To Your Health!

The Editors

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