st johns wort benefits

St John's Wort: Benefits and Side Effects

The most impressive health benefits of St. John's wort is its ability to treat depression. Therefore, it also helps in other related conditions such as mood swings, anxiety and premenstrual symptoms. St. John's wort also soothes your nervous system and regulates hormonal activities.

In spite of all the benefits of this natural herb, it can give some serious side effects. According to an Australian study adverse reactions of St. John's wort were similar to commercial antidepressant Prozac (fluoxetine). So if you go for it then do it under a doctor's supervision.

What is St. John's Wort?

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Saint John's wort (hypericum perforatum) is a European flowering shrub. Extract from its leaves and flowers is used for medicinal purposes from ages. Its us also known as rosin rose or goat weed .

Its active compound hyperforin is available in teas, tablets, capsules and liquids. St. John's wort is also available in tincture, oil and raw form.

St John's what is a highly researched herb. Its beneficial bioflavonoids and range of antioxidants can positively impact physical, chemical and behavioral aspects of our body.

While it is very beneficial to our body St. John's wort extract also has side effects. It also interacts with a range of medicines. Therefore it should be used under a qualified doctor for getting its most benefits.

Health Benefits of St. John's Wort

One of the biggest benefits of St. John's wort comes from its antidepressant capability. It also offers many other benefits. Following are some of the popular ones.

1. Combats Depression

Researchers have found that Saint John's wort extract helps to combat mild to moderate depression. They are still not able to find the exact mechanism of how he does that it is widely accepted that it works like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) as the prescribed medicine for depression like Prozac and other functions.

Like SSRIs, it makes more serotonin dopamine and norepinephrine available to the brain. All these neurotransmitters improve moods and helps to reduce symptoms of depression.It is a good natural remedy for depression.


2. Relieves PMS Symptoms

Women go through a lot of hormonal changes throughout their life.

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is one such difficult time two weeks before the regular periods. Emotional changes such irritability and aggression can happen but the intensity can vary from woman to woman.

Researchers have found that use of St. John's wort during the PMS helps women in reducing sports emotional and physical symptoms.

3. Reduces Anxiety

St. John's wort is highly used home remedy for anxiety after the top choice of depression treatment.

Some researchers have found it useful in reducing anxiety, improving sleeplessness, irritability and fatigue. It reduces chronic stress hormones from the body to give general feeling if goodness.

But all researchers have not found the same results. They have shown mixed results as far as anxiety is concerned. In fact research suggests that excess consumption of St. John's wort extract causes panic attacks and anxiety.

So if you get more of it what you are really trying to treat then you better avoid it.

Instead of trying chemical based conventional medication for anxiety if you really want to try St. John's wort then you should do it under a doctor's supervision who can regulate the doses and monitor its performance.

4. Controls Mood Swings

Studies have been done on the usefulness of Saint John's wort for dealing with mood swings during menopause.

Substantial reductions were found after the study in the symptoms of menopause from both psychological and psychosomatic angles. Even sexual will be improved

5. Helps Cancer Treatment

St John's what is extensively used for various skin conditions. But the most impressive preserves from a research found that it helps to stop the growth of both Melanoma and non Melanoma types of cancers.

One of the potent compounds of Saint John's work is hyperforin which is responsible for stopping the growth of cancer cells.

Do its use for cancer protection is not yet widely considered but researchers are really excited about the potential.

6. Reduces Inflammations and Heals Wounds

St. John's wort has both antibacterial and anti-inflammatory capabilities.

Wound healing capabilities of St. John's wort has been well known for a long time. For minor burns and bruises it has been widely used in Europe.

Applied topically as a salve or tincture, St. John's wort can stimulate blood circulation to heal minor wounds.

It can also be used as natural remedies for eczema and hemorrhoids.


7. Relieves Nerve Pains

Nerve pains such as sciatica can be most excruciating. St. John's wort can relieve you from these debilitating sharp pains. It can also be used for various spine injury pain relief.

The Side Effects of St. John's Wort

Some natural herbs and products have no side effects and they are straightforward and go for it type of herbs. Some herbal products are not well researched so their side effects are unknown. You may still use them as they are widely popular and you haven't heard of any bad experiences from others.However St. John's wort is a very well researched herb.

It has some clear side effects. It also interferes with the working of many popular medicines.

Most if the side effects come from long term use of higher doses. If used in recommended doses St. John's wort is safe for 2-3 month of regular use.

Following are the known side effects of St. John's wort

st johns wort side effects

1. Raises Blood Pressure

St. John’s wort can elevate your blood pressure. Therefore if you are already taking medications for blood pressure then avoid using it.

2. Causes Excessive Hair Loss

Most antidepressants cause hair loss and St. John's wort is no exception although it is a natural herb. So if your hairline is receding for any other reason it will worsen the condition. Avoid it.

3. Increases Photosensitivity

If you are photosensitive (allergic to long exposure of sunlight) then the use of St. John’s wort makes you hyper-sensitive to sunlight leading to photodermatitis. Photodermatitis is a kind of contact dermatitis which causes rashes due to sun exposure. So, if you have photosensitive skin must completely avoid taking St. John's wort.

4. Makes Hormonal Changes in Pregnant And Breastfeeding Women

Researchers have found that St. John’s wort can have adverse reactions to brain neurochemistry and hormonal balance and may harm the baby. Therefore, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding mom then avoid taking St. John’s wort.

5. Worsens Certain Brain Disorders

St. John’s wort can make the symptoms of ADD and ADHD worse. It can also make dementia and Alzheimer’s disease worse. Even people with bipolar disorder will suffer more with the use of St John's wort.

Since it aggravates most of the brain disorders, it is safe to stay away from it if you are already suffering from any of these disorders.

6. Makes Birth Control Pills Ineffective

You have to be really careful. If you are taking birth control pills then the use of St John's wort is likely to cause excessive bleeding and nausea. Another major disadvantage is that it makes the oral birth control pills ineffective. So, if you don't want to get pregnant then stay away from it and avoid unwanted pregnancy.

7. Ineffective in Severe Depression

St. John’s wort is capable of mild to moderate depression. It is not a medicine for severe depression. Severe depression needs hospitalization or constant monitoring so consult a doctor.

Following are some of the popular drugs with known interactions of St. John's wort

  • Alprazolam (Xanax)
  • Aminolevulinic acid
  • Amitriptyline (Elavil)
  • Birth control pills (Contraceptive drugs)
  • Clopidogrel (Plavix)
  • Cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune)
  • Dextromethorphan (Robitussin DM, and others)
  • Digoxin (Lanoxin)
  • Fenfluramine (Pondimin)
  • Fexofenadine (Allegra)
  • Imatinib (Gleevec)
  • Irinotecan (Camptosar)
  • Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 1A2 (CYP1A2) substrates)
  • Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 2C9 (CYP2C9) substrates)
  • Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) substrates)
  • Medications for depression (Antidepressant drugs)
  • Medications for depression (MAOIs)
  • Medications for HIV/AIDS (Nonnucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NNRTIs))
  • Medications for HIV/AIDS (Protease Inhibitors)
  • Medications for migraine headaches ("Triptans")
  • Medications for pain (Narcotic drugs)
  • Medications moved by pumps in cells (P-Glycoprotein Substrates)
  • Medications that increase sensitivity to sunlight (Photosensitizing drugs)
  • Meperidine (Demerol)
  • Methylphenidate (Concerta, Daytrana, Metadate, Ritalin)
  • Nefazodone (Serzone)
  • Nortriptyline (Pamelor)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil)
  • Pentazocine (Talwin)
  • Phenobarbital (Luminal)
  • Phenprocoumon
  • Phenytoin (Dilantin)
  • Procainamide
  • Reserpine
  • Sedative medications (Barbiturates)
  • Sertraline (Zoloft)
  • Simvastatin (Zocor)
  • Tacrolimus (Prograf, Protopic)
  • Theophylline
  • Tramadol (Ultram)
  • Warfarin (Coumadin)

As you can see from the list that the herb St. John's wort is really well researched.

If you are taking any of the above medications then you should be careful about uses of St. John's wort. Check with your doctor who may not only suggest recommended doses of St John's wort but also adjust the doses of your prescribed medicines. In some cases your doctor may advise you to not use St. John's Wort extract.

Recommended Doses

Since St. John's wort produces unintended side effects it is very important to use this herb with caution.

Most manufacturers of Saint John's wort will have recommended doses mentioned on the box. Don't exceed those limits.
The recommended doses differ for adults and children.

The amount of extract you take orally for mind depression or menopause will be different as compared to the amount you will use for wound healing on your skin.

Other Tips and Precautions

Stay warned of the myth that all natural and herbal products are beneficial without any side effects. It is generally true that natural and herbal products are safer than their chemical counterparts but with some exceptions. St John's wort is one such exception where you have to be more careful.

Take the following precautions to get the best out of St. John's wort.

  • Always use it under your doctors supervision.
  • Let your doctor decide its usefulness in your particular case as it may interfere with many other medications you may be taking.
  • Never exceed the recommended doses of the manufacturers or your doctors whichever is lower
  • Use other less severe natural products if there are choices to make.

Don't get too scared of St. John's wort. If taken within the limits for a couple of months then this herb is certainly beneficial.