Also known as Hypericum, Amber and Klamath weed, St. John’s Wort has gained significant attention in recent times, due largely to its anti-depressant quality. However, it has a long history of usage, both as a healing herb and as a magical herb with protection qualities.
It is an extremely effective mood enhancer in cases of mild depression and is effective for pre-menstrual mood-swings. However it is less effective for more severe depression or depression associated with other psychiatric disorders such as bipolar disorder.
How do I take it?
In cases of mild depression, take 1 – 2 capsules of St. John’s Wort daily. Although results are noticeable within one hour of consumption, maximum benefit will be obtained by continuing this dosage for at least 2 months. A health professional should be consulted in cases of more severe depression.
How does it work?
St. John’s Wort shows anti-depressant activity. This activity is thought to be due to inhibition of monoamine oxidase (MAO) thereby increasing levels of beneficial neurotransmitters in the central nervous system. Current evidence suggests that a combination of mechanisms may be responsible for this action. St. John’s Wort 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 is it good for?
St. John’s Wort shows bacteriocidal 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 wound healing.
Is there any side effects?
St. John’s Wort can cause an over-sensitivity to light in some individuals. 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. It should not be taken for long periods of time (more than 3 months) without first seeking medical advice.