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St John's Wort: Benefits, Side Effects And Drug Interactions

St John's wort, also known as Johnswort, goat weed, touch-and-heal, is a yellow star-shaped five petals flower mainly used for curing depression, sleep disorders and healing wounds. The botanical name of the plant is Hypericum perforatum. As the flower blossoms around the St. John's Day which falls on 24 June, it is known as St. John's wort.

The flower of the plant has been used to make tea, liquid extract, and pills since centuries. Several studies show that St. John's wort is used to treat severe depression [1] as its effect is similar to many prescribed antidepressants.

Another study also found that it is effective in treating wounds, pain, menopause symptoms and sores.

If we look at its downside, the extract of this flower is banned in certain countries due to its serious interaction with certain medicines.

Health Benefits Of St. John's Wort

Treats depression: St. John's wort contains an active substance called 'hypericin' [2] which is effective in treating mild to moderate depression. Consuming it by mouth helps decrease nervousness, anxiety, and tiredness [1] .

Treats symptoms of PMS: St. John's wort consumption helps in reducing symptoms of menopause like mood changes, hot flashes, food cravings, insomnia, headaches, confusion and others [3] .

Heals wounds: The oil or ointment extracted from the flower is effective in healing wounds and reducing scars [4] . It is very useful in reducing C-section scars.

Apart from the aforementioned, St. John's wort is also effective in treating other conditions like the following, but there's no sufficient proof related to it. [5]

  • Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder
  • Brain tumour
  • Migraine
  • Herpes
  • Skin irritation
  • Clear blocked arteries
  • Tooth pulling
  • Bruises
  • Muscle pain
  • Stomach upset

Side Effects Of St. John's Wort

  • St. John's wort causes many side effects like dizziness, headache, and skin irritation if it interacts with certain drugs. Thus, it is important to consult a doctor before using it.
  • Avoid sun after its consumption by mouth as it may result in severe skin reactions.
  • Pregnant women should avoid its intake as it may result in some birth defects.
  • St. John's wort can interact with certain medicines which are used during surgery. Avoid its intake 5 days or a week before your heart surgery as it may cause complications later.
  • Avoid its consumption if you are planning to have a baby as it may cause trouble while conceiving [6] .

Medications That Interact With St. John's Wort

  • Aminolevulinic acid (for skin)
  • Birth control pills
  • Digoxin (for heart)
  • Irinotecan (for cancer)
  • Medications for depression like sertraline, fluoxetine, and imipramine
  • Medications for HIV like delavirdine and nevirapine
  • Medications for pain like morphine and meperidine [7]
  • St. John's Wort Tea Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp of dried leaves and flowers of St. John's wort
  • Honey/sugar

Method

  • Allow the water to boil and add 2 tbsp of herb per cup.
  • Let it boil for 5-10 minutes.
  • Strain the mixture in a cup.
  • Add sugar or honey to taste.
  • Serve it hot.
View Article References
  1. [1] Linde, K., Berner, M. M., & Kriston, L. (2008). St John's wort for major depression. Cochrane database of Systematic reviews, (4).
  2. [2] Linde, K. (2009). St. John’s wort–an overview. Complementary Medicine Research, 16(3), 146-155.
  3. [3] Wölfle, U., Seelinger, G., & Schempp, C. M. (2014). Topical application of St. Johnʼs wort (Hypericum perforatum). Planta medica, 80(02/03), 109-120.
  4. [4] Grube, B., Walper, A., & Wheatley, D. (1999). St. John's Wort extract: efficacy for menopausal symptoms of psychological origin. Advances in therapy, 16(4), 177-186.
  5. [5] Klemow, K. M., Bartlow, A., Crawford, J., Kocher, N., Shah, J., & Ritsick, M. (2011). 11 Medical Attributes of St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum). Lester Packer, Ph. D., 211.
  6. [6] Knuppel, L., & Linde, K. (2004). Adverse effects of St. John's Wort: a systematic review. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 65(11), 1470-1479.
  7. [7] Chrubasik‐Hausmann, S., Vlachojannis, J., & McLachlan, A. J. (2019). Understanding drug interactions with St John's wort (Hypericum perforatum L.): impact of hyperforin content. Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, 71(1), 129-138.
  8. [8] Apaydin, E. A., Maher, A. R., Shanman, R., Booth, M. S., Miles, J. N., Sorbero, M. E., & Hempel, S. (2016). A systematic review of St. John's wort for major depressive disorder. Systematic reviews, 5(1), 148. doi:10.1186/s13643-016-0325-2

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