Saint John’s wort is a wonderful plant or herb with lots of medicinal properties that has shown to have the potential to help to treat conditions like anxiety and depression, bacterial infection, and more. It also has been shown to promote a healthy nervous system and even improve brain function.
Saint John’s Wort: a brief introduction
The scientific name of the plant is Hypericum Perforatum, and it has yellow-coloured flowers full of medicinal value. In ancient Greece, physicians of that time discovered its incredible medicinal usage. St. John’s Wort can be used in multiple ways to treat different ailments. Primarily the plant’s yellow flowers are used to make tablets, capsules, herbal teas and extract powders. Extracts from the flowers are also used to prepare medicines in the topical application form.
Hyperforin and hypericin are the two main active ingredients present in Saint John’s Wort that are responsible for most of the medicinal uses of this plant. One should be careful though if he/she is already taking other medications, as St. John’s wort can react with them and reduce the effectiveness, or can even result in adverse effects, depending on what kind of medications it’s interacting with.
It has been found that St. John’s wort works multiple ways,
- Firstly, it inhibits a chemical compound, named monoaminoxidase or MOA; secondly, it further prevents reuptake of another neurotransmitter, serotonin.
- Inhibition of COX2, IL-6, iNOS.
- Inhibition of STAT-1.
- Inhibition of PGE2.
Saint John’s Wort: medicinal benefits
1) A potential weapon against Depression
St. John’s wort contains Hyperion, which works as a potent antidepressant agent by stimulating blood flow in the capillary blood vessels. It was found that Hypericin further regulates the level of a neurotransmitter, dopamine, as well as helps increase the total number of dopamine receptors in rat brains in studies.
St. John’s wort was shown to be effective in the treatment of depression, particularly in the mild to moderate stage of depression. Clinical trials held recently produced results which showed that St. John’s wort was as beneficial as it’s synthetic drug counterpart.
2) Antibacterial and antiviral agent
For thousands of years, people have been treating several bacterial and viral infections caused by cuts, wounds, and abrasions by using liquid extracts and topical applications derived from St. John’s wort. Due to its natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, it heals wounds and reduces inflammation rapidly without causing any notable side effects.
The primary antibacterial ingredient in St. John’s wort is hyperforin. It halts the growth of some particular micro-organisms that are responsible for several common bacterial infections. Hyperion also works as an antiviral by inactivating the enveloped viruses. It further prevents viruses from getting fused with cell membranes by inhibiting their ability to do so at the various points in the viral lifetime.
Apart from having Hyperion’s antibacterial and antiviral properties, there are certain other medicinal elements, such as Catechin and Flavonoid, in St. John’s wort that act as potent antivirals. Those two compounds are usually found in the extract form of St. John’s wort, and they have been proved to be very effective against viruses like influenza.
3) Antioxidant and Neuroprotective properties
St. John’s wort has amazing antioxidant properties that are available only in the extract form and can reduce oxidative stress.
St. John’s wort contains goodness of the kaempferol and flavonols quercetin, which offer neuroprotective properties and decrease cell oxidation.
4) May reduce opiate withdrawal Symptoms
Again, St. John’s wort successfully decreased the opiate withdrawal complications in a rat in the lab. Further research is going on this in this regard, and human trials are still ongoing; however, scientists are hopeful that this plant can be the answer to the opiate withdrawal symptoms in humans, as it has the potential to activate the opioid receptors.
5) Effective against Premenstrual Syndrome
According to a recent peer-reviewed double-blind study, Hypericum perforatum has been able to remedy the patients with Premenstrual syndrome significantly more than the placebo when treated on a daily basis.
Always consult your physician before you start taking any supplement including Saint John’s wort. Supplements or extracts can react with many common medications like warfarin, statins, SSRIs, and even contraceptives. Mixing and combining Saint John’s wort with any of the medicines mentioned above can cause a medical emergency.