St. John’s Wort has made headlines in recent times, largely because of its anti-depressant quality.
In saying that, it has a long history of use in accent traditional practises, both as a healing herb and as a magical herb with protection properties.
It is a amazingly effective mood enhancer in cases of mild depression, and is very effective for pre-menstrual mood-swings (PMS). But it is less effective for the more severe cases of depression or depression associated with other psychiatric disorders such as bipolar disorder.
Directions of use?
With mild cases of depression, take one to two capsules a day. Although results are noticeable within 60 minutes of taking, maximum benefit will be obtained by continuing this dosage for at least 8 weeks. A doctor should be consulted in more severe cases of depression.
What does it do?
St John’s Wort shows anti-depressant activity. This activity is thought to be due to inhibition of monoamine oxidase (MAO) therefore increasing the levels of beneficial neurotransmitters in your central nervous system. Current tests suggests that a combination of mechanisms are responsible for this action. St John’s Wort’s anti-depressant effect may be via its photo-sensitizing activity. It is well known that light or lack of it plays a role in some types of depression; and it has been found that St John’s Wort lowered the amount of light necessary to obtain a therapeutic effect and that normal daylight may have a similar effect to intensive light therapy when combined with St John’s Wort. Studies on the effect of hypericin on melatonin release by the pineal gland indicate this may also be a possible mechanism of anti-depressant activity.
Other possible mechanisms associated with the anti-depressant activity include: Inhibition of catechol-o-methyltransferase which breaks down catecholamines such as adrenaline and noradrenaline; modulation of serotonin receptors; suppression of interleukin-6 (an inflammatory mediator that may play a role in depression via its effect on cortisol release).
What else can it be used for?
St John’s Wort shows bactericidal activity against a number of gram positive and gram negative bacteria including staphylococcus aureus, proteus vulgaris, E. coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. It has as anti-inflammatory activity, it improves mood, and improves healing wounds.
Should I be worried about side effects?
St. John’s Wort can cause a over-sensitivity to light in some cases. It should not be taken in combination with any prescription medication for depression or psychiatric disorders, it may interact with estrogens and oral contraceptives and that the combination may be associated with inter menstrual bleeding, and there have been unsubstantiated reports of women becoming pregnant while taking St. John's wort while on oral contraceptives. St john wort should not be taken for extended periods of time (no more than 12 weeks) without first seeking doctors advice.