Common name: St. John's Wort, St. Joan's Wort
Part used: Flowering tops
Habitat: St John's wort is often confused with other plants including Rose of Sharon, but St. John's Wort's small sunny yellow flowers and opposite oval leaves are dotted with dark oil glands when you hold them to the light which is an easy identification technique. It grows in sunny positions at the margins of hedges, waterways and on scrubby wasteland in many temperate to mediterranean climates globally reaching 1m tall with semi-woody stems.
Folklore and History: The name comes from the observation that the flowers open around St. John's Day, 24th June. Stems of the plant would be hung over doorways at St John's Feast as lucky and healthy talismans.
Constituents: Naphthodianthrones including hypericin and pseudohypericin, phloroglucinols including hyperforin and adhyperforin, flavonoids including hyperoside, rutin, isoquercitrin, quercetin and bioflavonoids, volatile oils, catechin tannins and procyanidins, lower levels of coumatins, alkanes, caffeic and chlorogenic acids and other phenolic compounds.
Actions: antidepressant, anxiolytic, anti-inflammatory, astringent, antibacterial, antiviral, sedative, supports certain detoxification pathways
Traditional and current uses:
- Mild to moderate depression or periodic low mood . St. John's Wort has been shown in various well regarded trials to be as effective or more effective than prescription antidepressants; see Whiskey E. et.al. InternationalClinical Psycopharmacology, 2001, Sep;16(5):239-52 and Kim HL et al. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disorders, 1999 Sep; 187(9):532-8.
- Depression associated with menopause
- Nerve pain such as sciatica or folowing an injury (see St. John's Wort infused oil)
- Herpes viruses (often in combination with lemon balm)
- Various bacterial infections including Staphlococcus, MRSA, H-Pylori, E-Coli and others
- Support of certain liver detoxification pathways helpful with 'sluggish liver' and particularly in conditions such as biliary cholestasis. This ability to help the liver function more efficiently is the same mechanism which causes interactions beween St. John's Wort and certain medications since it helps the body clear these medications more quickly from the body which affects dose, efficacy and may be dangerous.
Disclaimer: The information on this website is provided for educational use only, and is not intended as a replacement for the services of a qualified medical herbalist, doctor or licensed health practitioner. The information contained herein is not diagnostic, always consult a medical health professional before embarking on a treatment programme. Urban Fringe Dispensary disclaims any liability, loss, injury or damage incurred as a consequence of the use and application of the advice given herein.