St John’s wort, latin name of Hypericum perforatum is a potent herb with many medicinal effects.
It works similarly to an anti-depressant via inhibiting serotonin re-uptake in the neural synapse. This action potentiates the effects of serotonin, helping to boost mood, treat depression and support a healthy sleep cycle.
Components of St John’s wort are effective against enveloped viruses such as Herpes, including chicken pox and shingles. Topically, this herb can reduce nerve pain associated with shingles and help to prevent any nerve fibre damage.
Research shows that herbal extracts of Hypericum can reduce oxidative stress, inflammation and neurotoxicity. For this reason it has been used to treat neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s. It has also shown to have protective effects against chronic stress.
However, this herb is not for everyone and is a testament to why seeking advise from a qualified herbalist or naturopath is so important before self-treating with herbal medicine.
St John’s wort should not be used with drugs that also utilise the cytochrome P450 system, as this reduces effectiveness of the medication when taken in conjunction with St. John’s Wort. Do not take this herb with birth control, digoxin, oxycodone, and warfarin. Avoid use if currently on SSRI anti-depressants as this can lead to serotonin syndrome.