Despite a popular misconception, St. John’s Wort is not actually an herb like so many believe. In actual fact it’s a medicine that is made from the leaves and flowers of the actual plant (Hypericum perforatum). It’s native to Europe but is considered an invasive weed that has spread throughout the world where sub-tropical conditions are supported. It is backed by a fair amount of clinical evidence that supports the idea of using it for depression with beneficial results. It’s also considered to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-bacterial properties. St. John’s Wort is far from a new discovery. Even the Greek philosopher Hippocrates described it’s medicinal benefits and the name is taken from the fact that it tends to bloom somewhere around June 24th (John the Baptiste’s birthday).
Sometimes it is made into an oil that can be applied topically to the skin to treat insect bites, burns, etc – however; doing so can come with some risk as it can cause an increased sensitivity to sunlight in the epidermis. It is regarded in the medical research community as being likely effective in treating mild to moderate depression when taking it in it’s extracted form. However, it’s also important to note that it can cause interactions with other types of medications. It’s always important to discuss taking something like St. John’s Wort with your doctor first before trying.
Speaking of doctors – Dr. Kevin Curran; who is a plant biologist has put together a very complete article on St. John’s Wort.
According to the American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine; Taking St. Johns Wort along with an antidepressant may be an effective means to treating short-term depression. Again, it’s very important to learn about the possible conflicts with certain types of medications and pregnant or breast feeding women are advised to stay away from this natural remedy. Studies have shown that St. John’s wort may be helpful in treating SAD. Thus far, research has shown that taking St. John’s Wort may be useful for controlling the symptoms associated with anxiety, inadequate sex drive and sleeping disorders associated with seasonal affective disorder.
Although it may have benefits when taken alone; some suggest that the combination of both St. John’s Wort and light therapy may be increasingly more effective in treating seasonal depression.
http://hypericum.com/ is a fascinating website that has a lot of thorough information on this medicinal flower.