Botanical Profile: St. John's Wort is a perennial plant native to parts of Europe and Asia, but has since been naturalized to many temperate climates, including the Pacific Northwest. It is characterized by its bright yellow flowers and is commonly harvested for its aerial parts, particularly the flowers and leaves.
Traditional Uses: Traditionally, St. John's Wort has been used for various purposes including the support of emotional well-being. It has been a common herbal remedy in folk medicine for centuries, particularly in Europe, for mild to moderate depression and anxiety. It's also been used for wound healing and to alleviate symptoms of certain skin conditions when applied topically. In addition to its use for mood disorders, St. John's Wort is also traditionally utilized for nerve pain, including the discomfort associated with conditions like shingles. Shingles, caused by the reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus (the same virus responsible for chickenpox), can result in a painful rash and nerve pain, known as postherpetic neuralgia.
Modern Research and Usage: In modern herbalism, St. John's Wort is often utilized for its potential antidepressant properties. Some studies suggest that it may be effective for treating mild to moderate depression. The active components thought to contribute to its medicinal effects include hypericin and hyperforin.
Safety and Interactions: It's crucial to note that while St. John's Wort is available as a dietary supplement in the United States, it's not FDA-approved for treating any condition. The FDA mandates that herbal supplements should not be marketed as being able to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Furthermore, St. John's Wort is known to interact with a wide range of medications, including but not limited to, antidepressants, birth control pills, warfarin (a blood thinner), and certain chemotherapy drugs. These interactions can be serious, leading to decreased effectiveness of other medications or increased side effects.
Recommendations: As a clinical herbalist, I would advise anyone interested in using St. John's Wort, especially for mental health, to consult with a healthcare professional first. This is especially important due to its potential interactions with other medications and its contraindications in certain health conditions.
St John's Wort
Remember, this description does not replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read here.
- Steep 1-2 teaspoons of dried St. John's Wort flowers in a cup of boiling water.
- Allow it to steep for about 10 minutes.
- Strain and drink.
- Typically, 1 cup of tea, 1-3 times a day, is suggested.
- A standard tincture is often made in a 1:5 ratio (herb to alcohol) with a 40-50% alcohol solution.
- For commercial preparations, follow the manufacturer's instructions.
- Commonly, 1-2 ml of the tincture is taken 3 times a day.
- Dosage can vary, so it's important to start with a lower dose and adjust as needed.
- Be aware of potential interactions with medications.
- Not recommended during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
- Oil infused with St. John's Wort can be used, typically prepared by steeping the flowers in a carrier oil (like olive or almond oil) for several weeks.
- Alternatively, creams or ointments containing St. John's Wort extract are available.
- Apply the oil, cream, or ointment to the affected area 2-3 times a day.
- Test on a small area first to check for any allergic reaction.
- Avoid sun exposure on areas where the herb has been applied due to increased photosensitivity.