St. John's Wort
St John's Wort is a perennial plant with extensive, creeping rhizomes and can be found growing in sunny, or partially shaded, areas throughout the United States and Canada. Also known as Goatweed, it prefers the dry, gravelly soil along roadsides and is easy to grow from seed or root division in spring or autumn in well-drained soils.
This plant is native to Northern Europe and Great Britain but has been naturalized in most of the northern hemisphere. The genus name Hypericum is derived from the Greek words hyper (above) and eikon (picture), in reference to the traditional use of the plant to ward off evil, by hanging plants over a religious icon in the house during Saint John's day. The species name perforatum refers to the presence of small oil glands in the leaves that look like windows, which can be seen when they are held against the light.
St. Johns was a useful member of the pharmacopoeia centuries before its use as an antidepressant was discovered. The flavonoids hypericin and hyperforin have been the most lauded chemicals contained in St. Johns Wort that may be responsible for its pharmacological activity; yet with all the research, it is still unclear which chemicals are responsible for its activity.
Organic St. Johnís Wort capsules are one of the most commonly used herbal remedy for depression. It is a prescribed medicine in Germany and Ireland, but is still available over the counter, as an herbal remedy, in many countries, including the United States. Research has shown support for its effects on mild to moderate depression. St. John's Wort increases the body's supply of melatonin, a natural hormone that promotes a sense of relaxation and well-being. In addition, the phytochemicals hyperforin and hypericin in St. John's Wort help to regulate production of the mood-regulating neurochemical serotonin, while increasing levels of dopamine and norepinephrine, the brain's natural "feel good" chemicals.
Neurotransmitters are chemicals that carry messages from nerve cells to other cells. Ordinarily, once the message has been delivered, neurotransmitters are re-absorbed and inactivated by the cells that released them. Chemicals in St. John's Wort may keep more of these antidepressant neurotransmitters available for the body to utilize.
For educational purposes only This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.