All About St. John’s Wort and its Uses

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PhotobucketSt. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum)

Found: Fields, roadsides, wods, hedges, meadows growing wild. Identifying: 1 – 3 feet tall with oblong, pale gree leaves and yellow flowers.  The leaves are dotted with translucent oil glands which can be seen when held up to the light.  Pear shaped ovary.  Stamens appear in a bushy clustered bundle of three, and are joined at the bases.  Five petals, black dots on margins.  Seeds are round and black with a resinous smell.  Flowers June – September.  The leaves have a bitter taste.  

Parts Used:  Leaves and Flowers

Medicinal Uses:  Most commonly known for its ability to alleviate mild to moderate depression.  Proven many times over to be safe and effective.  The fresh flowers used as a tea or in tinctures or olive oil were once popular methods of taking St. John’s wort for the relief of bladder ailments, depression, dysentery, diarrhea, and worms.  Also has sedative effects.  Children with urinary retention can take as a tea before bed.  Said to slow the spread of breast cancer to tissues between chest wall and lungs.  St. John’s wort increases the skin’s sensitivity to sunlight (see Allergic Reactions below); this is said to be what gives its effectiveness against not only breast but other forms of cancer as well.  Fresh flowers mixed with olive oil makes a great ointment for burns and skin issues.  St. John’s wort also good for Crohn’s disease, hemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diapetes, ear infection, mastitis, headache, insomnia, vertigo.

What Makes it Work:  Its compounds regulate brain levels of topamine, interleukins, melatonin, monoamine-oxidases, and serotonin.  Is considered a selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor.

Allergic Reactions:  St. John’s wort contains hypericin which may cause photodermatitis, or skin burns, when sensitive skin is exposed to light.  Don’t try and treat severe depression with St. John’s wort.  Some people report stomach upset, restlessness, or fatigue when using.

Interesting Notes:  In Germany St. John’s wort outsells Prozac 20 to 1!  It’s also being researched for use in AIDS treatments.

Note:  In the case of St. John’s wort, do not use to treat severe depression and/or thoughts of suicide.  Seek a medical professional at once for help.

See More Herbs & Their Uses

11 thoughts on “All About St. John’s Wort and its Uses

  1. How very interesting! I new about the depression treatment but not the others! Did you come across any good web-sites on how to take it for IBS that you can pass on?
    Thanks Diane!

  2. Hi Cheri,

    I have a reference book that talks about St. John’s wort for IBS. It’s in “Prescriptions for Herbal Healing” which is a very reliable source and goes into it in more detail. But in a nutshell, the solution isn’t very pleasant. Apparently, European doctors recommend St. John’s wort oil as an overnight retention enema. Not many people (Americans, anyway) are very willing to do one of those. I’m not sure how effective it would be, but you could certainly try drinking the tea or a tincture to see if that alleviates IBS. I’ll let you know if I discover anything else. Now I’m curious too! But in the meantime, if you have a good herbalist in your neighborhood, you may want to check with them and see what they know about St. John’s wort for IBS and if they think it’s a good solution for you.

    Dianes last blog post..All About St. John’s Wort and its Uses

  3. Not sure I’m ready to try that! Hmm… Thank goodness my IBS is at a good place right now. Thanks for the info! In all of my research on treating IBS, I had never come across it before.

  4. I keep listening to the news speak about getting free online grant applications so I have been looking around for the best site to get one.

  5. I’m very afraid about crohn’s disease. I have some symtoms in abdominal pain, often in the lower right area, and diarrhea. Should I go to see the doctor? Please help.

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