St. John's Wort

St. John's wort, known as Hypericum perforatum in Latin also goes by the names hypericum, Klamath weed, goat weed. It is a plant with small yellow flowers, and it is these flowers that are used for their medicinal properties.

Like green tea, St. John's wort has been used for centuries to treat mental sickness and nerve pain. It was first recorded as an herbal treatment by ancient Grecian herbalists. Ancient peoples used it as a sedative and as a treatment for malaria. It was also used as a balm on wounds such as cuts, burns, and insect bites. The flowers of the plant were ground into a paste or dried and used to make tea.

Today, St. John's wort can be used in tea, tablet, and liquid form. It is sometimes used to treat mild to moderate depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders. While there is some evidence that the plant can be useful as an herbal remedy for treating mild to moderate depression, there is also evidence to show that it works no better than placebo.

St John's Wort and Depression

Overall, analysts have found that St. John's wort has minimal beneficial effects on people with major depression, but it may help people with minor depression as well as some prescription antidepressants. One study in particular that was analyzed was conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health and the Office of Dietary Supplements. This study found that while St. John's wort was no more effective than placebo in treating major depression of moderate severity, the antidepressant sertraline also showed little difference from placebo

St John's wort contains many different chemical compounds that are thought to be at the heart of it's medicinal effect. Two of these active ingredients are hypericin and hyperforin. While it is know known exactly how hypericin and hyperforin work to create St John's wort's effects, it is generally thought that the herb acts as a herbal SSRI, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. SSRIs are used to treat depression, by blocking neurons' reabsorbtion of the neurotransmitter serotonin.

Side Effects of St John's Wort

St John's wort may cause dizziness, fatigue, diarrhea, nausea, dry mouth, and increased sun sensitivity. It may also limit the effectiveness of certain medications including antidepressant medicines birth control pills, cyclosporine, digoxin, indinavir and other medicines used to control HIV infection, irinotecan and other anticancer medicines, and warfarin other anticoagulants.

Certain side effects of antidepressants and St John's wort, such as nausea, dizziness, and confusion, may be increased when you take St. John's wort in conjunction with antidepressants.

Even though St. John's wort is a natural herbal remedy, this does not mean it is safe to take for anyone. Talk to your doctor regarding St. John's wort to see if it is right for you before you start taking it.

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