St. John’s wort

St. John's Wort NatureFriends


Genuine St. John’s wort has been used by humans for thousands of years to treat physical and psychological injuries and illnesses. Some of these effects, which have been said to have been in the herb since time immemorial, have now been proven by studies. These are largely due to the active ingredient combination contained. For example, St. John’s wort tablets are often used as a treatment for depression or anxiety, while the oil is applied to treat injuries and pain.

What is St. John's Wort

1. What is St. John’s wort?

From the genus of St. John’s herbs, especially real St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) is often used as a medicinal plant. The herbaceous plant can grow up to one meter tall and differs from other currant herbs mainly in that its upright, double-edged stems are filled with distinctive cores inside. A healing effect is said above all to the buds, the flowers and the branch tips. All these plant components are harvested at flowering time – sometimes even by hand to this day.

In the vernacular, the plant is also called Lord’s Blood, because the leaves, when they are rubbed between the fingers, leave a red coloration. The St. John’s wort plant can be found in Europe, North Africa, South and North America as well as East and West Asia, especially on forest clearings, on bushes and on railway gravel. In the meantime, however, it is also grown in agriculture in order to be able to meet the high demand in the medical sector.

St. John's Wort Guide nfi
How does St. John's wort work?

2. How does St. John’s wort work?

A protective and even healing effect has been said to have been in the herb since ancient times. It was used to treat burn injuries more than 2,000 years ago. The mood-enhancing effect that man still appreciates about St. John’s wort from experience was discovered in the Middle Ages. At that time, the discovery was based on experience – today the numerous effects are proven by various studies. Real St. John’s wort should not only have a mood-enhancing effect, but also be effective for acute pain, indigestion and even degenerative diseases.

The preferred application, however, is the treatment of restlessness, depression and anxiety. This mode of action is due to the fact that the plant regulates the metabolism of the brain by increasing the concentration of neurotransmitters.

Neurotransmitters are messengers in the brain that transport and transmit information and stimuli between neurons. The increased concentration of neurotransmitters therefore leads to faster transmission of stimulus and information. This can normalize the stress hormone cortisol, which can lead to more relaxation and internal balance in the long run.

Hypericum perforatum is particularly appreciated because, unlike conventional antidepressants, it affects not only the symptoms but also the cause of the problem. This effect can be attributed to these active ingredients: hypericin, hyperforin and adhyperforin, flavonoids and bioflavonoids as well as sesquiterpene spathulenol.

Hypericin is not only the dye that contributes to the blood-red coloration when rubbing the leaves, flowers and buds. It is also a drug that is mainly used as an antidepressant. Hyperforin is also considered an antidepressant. As a so-called reuptake inhibitor of serotonin, dopamine, GABA, norepinephrine and glutamic acids, it ensures the resumption of these neurotransmitters from the so-called synaptic cleft. Combined, Hypericin and Hyperforin inhibit the uptake of dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. The latter is also known as stress hormone. The effect of these two substances is commonly described as gentler and at the same time more sustainable than that of chemical antidepressants.

St. John’s wort can also have side effects. Particularly well known is the cause of an increased sensitivity to light. Furthermore, St. John’s wort can cause side effects in combination with other medications. This is especially true for medicines whose active substances are broken down by the liver. Cytochrome P450 3A4 is also responsible for this. If the St. John’s wort dosage is set too high, the enzyme is particularly active and can thus cancel out the effectiveness of other drugs. In this way, St. John’s wort should also be able to render the pill ineffective. It has not yet been unequivocally confirmed whether this is indeed the case. Nevertheless, the package leaflet of many anti-baby pills warns against taking the herb at the same time.

Best St. John's wort

3. Which St. John’s wort is the best?

Buying St. John’s wort is not hard. The plant is available in tablet and capsule form, as oil and in drop form. St. John’s wort tea can often be found in drugstores. The big difference between all these dosage forms is the concentration of the active ingredients. While some are very low doses, other preparations do not contain real St. John’s wort, but other species that have so far been less well researched.

If you want to feel the real effect of the medicinal plant, you should therefore look for a high-quality product. The manufacturer Kneipp offers one of these. Its St. John’s wort Dragees H contains 900 milligrams of the active ingredients obtained from the shoot tips. Due to its composition and high drug dosage, it should be able to temporarily relieve mental exhaustion and ensure internal balance during persistent stress. [1]

Helps St. John's wort

4. What complaints does St. John’s wort help against?

Many people only know that St. John’s wort can have a mood-enhancing effect when dosed high doses. But few are aware that there are many other applications in which the herb can score. Decisive are not only the dosage and the duration of the application, but also the dosage form.

4.1 for depression

The causes of depression are not always known. Nevertheless, the low mood, which is based on a biochemical imbalance, are very often treated with chemical antidepressants. However, these only work in 50 to 70 percent of cases. However, many users are even more disturbed by the side effects of these drugs.

This is why more and more people – in consultation with their treating doctor – are relying on the herbal alternative called St. John’s wort. In the case of depression, according to studies, this is supposed to work even better than many antidepressants. However, in St. John’s wort, the onset of action is slower, which is why in particularly severe cases classic antidepressants must continue to be used.

The better effect, which is repeatedly mentioned in studies, is due to the fact that St. John’s wort inhigh doses affects the receptors of various neurotransmitters.

Antidepressants such as the commonly prescribed serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) only appeal to serotonin receptors. Consequently, the herbal alternative has a significantly greater influence on the brain. It inhibits the enzyme monoamine oxidase and regulates messenger substances such as serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine and melatonin. This can lead to an improvement in impulse transmission to nerve receptors, which in turn can lead to more energy, better nerves and a restful sleep. In addition, some concomitant symptoms of depression also disappear after some time in many users. [2]

Which dosage form and dosage should be chosen depends heavily on the severity of depression. In case of mild, depressive moods, many experts recommend St. John’s wort tea or oil. Both contain a rather low dosage and can still lead to initial improvements within two to four weeks. In more severe cases, however, doctors recommend St. John’s wort capsules at a dosage of 500 to 1,000 milligrams. At the beginning, a higher dosage of up to 2,000 milligrams is often chosen to bring about a faster improvement.

4.2 against anxiety disorders

Many people who suffer from depressive moods also have to deal with anxiety or even panic attacks. However, they may also have been triggered by traumatic experiences and do not necessarily have to be associated with depression. The St. John’s wort effect has already been proven several times in these cases. Since the various ingredients regulate the neurotransmitters and various hormones, they also influence the sleep-wake rhythm in a positive way. Users can sleep through again and their condition stabilizes. Often an mood-enhancing effect with accompanying composure and confidence as well as more concentration can be observed. [3] This allows some users to recognize and combat their irrational fears. In the course of the treatment, the St. John’s wort effect is supposed to relieve the frequency and intensity of panic attacks and anxiety disorder and to bring about psychological stability. But here, too, it takes st. John’s wort to reach its effect.

4.3 for gastrointestinal problems

The irritable bowel is one of the most well-known and common gastrointestinal problems in humans. This is a disease that is accompanied by long-lasting digestive problems without having a specific organic cause. The irritable bowel sometimes triggers severe convulsions and pain, but also bloating, diarrhea and constipation. These complaints often cause the mucous membranes of the intestine to be attacked. The tannin in the St. John’s wort plant is supposed to counteract this. [4] Tannin is a tannin that is designed to inhibit inflammation and relax the digestive tract. In this way, he should be able to relieve pain, but also nausea and promote the healing process in the intestine. In case of pain and discomfort in the gastrointestinal region, drops and oils are often administered. But St. John’s wort tea can also have its effect here.

4.4 in case of skin injuries

So-called macerate, a mixture of fresh herb and high-quality cold-pressed oil, can be helpful in the treatment of skin injuries. It is intended to have an analgesic effect for injuries and bruises as well as for burns and sunburn and at the same time to have an antibacterial effect. In this way, even the care of open wounds is possible. The astringent effect of the medicinal herb should also be able to weaken bleeding and prevent scarring. [6]

4.5 in the case of women’s complaints

The antispasmodic properties of St. John’s wort can lead to an improvement in period cramps. In addition, the contained beta sitosterol, an estrogen-like substance, should regulate irregular cycles and relieve the discomfort during menopause. Since the menopause is often accompanied by depression, Hypericum perforatum can have a double effect here and contribute to a higher quality of life. [7]

Dosage and intake of St. John's wort

5. How is St. John’s wort taken or how to dose it?

In what form and for how long St. John’s wort is taken in which dosage depends on the respective disease. In principle, however, it can be assumed that the amount of active substance must be higher in case of severe complaints than in the case of weak complaints. Up to a St. John’s wort dosage of 2,000 milligrams are not expected to cause any serious side effects. However, there may already be an increased sensitivity to light. Interactions with other drugs are expected regardless of dosage. For safety, the use of St. John’s wort and the pill should be avoided at the same time.

For depression, anxiety, gastrointestinal discomfort, women’s discomfort, dizziness, stress or insomnia, internal use is generally recommended. You can choose from St. John’s wort tablets, powder, tea, oil and St. John’s wort capsules. Especially in the tablets and in the capsules, the active ingredients are highly dosed. In addition, taking a specific amount of active ingredient is particularly straightforward. St. John’s wort tea and fresh juice, on the other hand, is weaker in effect, as the active ingredient concentration is also lower.

For pain, acute injuries, burns, tension as well as for degenerative joint diseases such as gout or rheumatism, however, external use is recommended. St. John’s wort can help in the form of ointments, envelopes, oils and tinctures. These can be purchased ready or simply made by yourself. Dried Hypericum perforatum is required for production. This can then be put into apple cider vinegar or alcohol for two to three weeks. Buying St. John’s wort for the external application is therefore not necessarily necessary.

Conclusion St. John's wort

6. Conclusion: Why is St. John’s wort so healthy?

Compared to conventional, chemical drugs, St. John’s wort can show its numerous advantages in the event of depression. However, the medicinal plant does not only have an mood-enhancing and generally positive effect on the psyche. It is also used as a herbal alternative to medications used in gastrointestinal discomfort and chemical ointments that are applied for injury and burns. The special thing about the herb is that it not only fights the symptoms of the diseases, but also the cause. Nevertheless, it should not be forgotten that St. John’s wort can have side effects and interactions. It may take some time for the plant to work. For this, it is assumed that the effect is sometimes significantly better than that of conventional drugs. However, a substitute for antidepressants and other medicines is the Lord’s Blood only if the attending physician can confirm this.

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Autor: Giacomo Hermosa

Giacomo Hermosa ist 37 Jahre alt, Vater von zwei Kindern und verheiratet. Vor elf Jahren hat er die Magister der Biologie und Anglistik erfolgreich absolviert. Hier hat er sich interdisziplinär mit den Themen Bioverfügbarkeit und Medizinalhanf beschäftigt. In seiner Freizeit schreibt er v.a. in den Bereichen Fitness, Ernährung und – familiär bedingt – über einige besondere Autoimmunerkrankungen. Seine Veröffentlichungen findet man u.a. auf seiner Website und bei der taz.