St. John’s wort, or hypericum perforatum, is a perennial herb that originated in Europe. It produces oval-shaped green leaves and yellow flowers with five petals. This hardy plant grows so abundantly that it can be classified as a weed when it springs up in unwanted locations. Due to its popularity as a natural supplement, St. John’s wort is cultivated in many countries, including the US and Australia. St. John’s wort has been used in traditional European medicine for thousands of years to alleviate nervous disorders. It has also been applied topically to burns and wounds. Modern clinical studies support these traditional uses.
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Mild to moderate depression can cause individuals to suffer from anxiety attacks, disrupted sleep pattern, loss of appetite and tiredness. These symptoms can interfere with day-to-day living. Extensive clinical studies have found that St. John’s wort may be able to help alleviate the symptoms associated with mild to moderate depression. This beneficial herb can enhance mood, balance emotional wellbeing and regulate sleep patterns in some individuals.
Does St. John’s Wort Improve Mood?
For some people, low mood is linked to the changing of the seasons. Low levels of light in the winter months can trigger bouts of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Clinical studies indicate that St. John’s wort can help to reduce the severity of SAD symptoms. St. John’s wort supplements seem particularly effective in alleviating SAD symptoms when they are combined with a course of light therapy.
Is St. John’s Wort Good For PMS?
Every month, many women experience debilitating premenstrual syndrome (PMS). The symptoms of PMS include muscle cramps, tender breasts and extreme irritability. Some studies suggest that women can reduce symptoms of PMS by up to 50% by taking a St. John’s wort supplement on a regular basis. When combined with black cohosh, St. John’s wort may also help reduce the severity of anxiety and low mood associated with menopause.
St. John’s Wort For Wounds
St. John’s wort used in a particular ointment product has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties when applied three times daily for 16 days. As a result, it may be used topically for minor wounds and skin irritation; however, care must be taken with topical applications of St. John’s wort because this herb can increase the skin’s sensitivity to sunlight.
St. John’s Wort Supplements
Traditionally, the dried leaves of St. John’s wort were made into a tea or infusion. When browsing on drugstore.com, you will find St. John’s wort in several easy-to-take formats, including capsules, tablets and liquid herbal extracts.
If you suspect that you have a medical condition, such as anxiety or depression, you should consult with your physician regarding any herbal supplements that you plan to take. St. John’s wort interacts with MANY drugs, including other herbal supplements. It is important to talk to your pharmacist or physician prior to taking St John’s wort. It is important you discuss your proposed use of St. John’s wort with your doctor prior to embarking on a course of these supplements.