Botanical Name: Hypericum perforatum
Section: Hypericum sect. Hypericum
Species: H. perforatum
Common Names: St.Jhon’s wort, Saint John’s wort.St. John’s wort, Hypericum (from the scientific name),Goatweed, Klamath weed, Tipton weed
The common name “St John’s wort” may be used to refer to any species of the genus Hypericum. Therefore, Hypericum perforatum is sometimes called “common St John’s wort” or “perforate St John’s wort” to differentiate it.
St John’s wort is named as such because it commonly flowers, blossoms and is harvested at the time of the summer solstice in late June, around St John’s Feast Day on 24 June. The herb would be hung on house and stall doors on St John’s Feast day to ward off evil spirits and to safeguard against harm and sickness to man and live-stock. The genus name Hypericum is possibly derived from the Greek words hyper (above) and eikon (picture), in reference to the tradition of hanging plants over religious icons in the home during St John’s Day.
Hypericum perforatum is native to temperate parts of Europe and Asia, but has spread to temperate regions worldwide as a cosmopolitan invasive weed. It was introduced to North America from Europe. The flower occurs in prairies, pastures, and disturbed fields. It prefers sandy soils.
Perforate St John’s wort is a herbaceous perennial plant with extensive, creeping rhizomes. Its reddish stems are erect and branched in the upper section, and can grow up to 1 m (3 ft 3 in) high. The stems are woody near their base and may appear jointed from leaf scars. The branches are typically clustered about a depressed base. It has opposite and stalkless leaves that are narrow and oblong in shape and 1–2 cm (0.39–0.79 in) long. Leaves borne on the branches subtend the shortened branchlets. The leaves are yellow-green in color, with scattered translucent dots of glandular tissue. The dots are conspicuous when held up to the light, giving the leaves the “perforated” appearance to which the plant’s Latin name refers. The flowers measure up to 2.5 cm (0.98 in) across, have five petals and sepals, and are colored bright yellow with conspicuous black dots. The flowers appear in broad helicoid cymes at the ends of the upper branches, between late spring and early to mid summer. The cymes are leafy and bear many flowers. The pointed sepals have black glandular dots. The many stamens are united at the base into three bundles. The pollen grains are ellipsoidal. The black and lustrous seeds are rough, netted with coarse grooves.
When flower buds (not the flowers themselves) or seed pods are crushed, a reddish/purple liquid is produced.
Common St John’s wort has long been used in herbalism and folk medicine. It was thought to have medical properties in classical antiquity and was a standard component of theriacs, from the Mithridate of Aulus Cornelius Celsus’ De Medicina (ca. 30 CE) to the Venice treacle of d’Amsterdammer Apotheek in 1686. Folk usages included oily extract (“St John’s oil”) and Hypericum snaps. Hypericum perforatum is a common species and is grown commercially for use in herbalism and traditional medicine.
The red, oily extract of H. perforatum has been used in the treatment of wounds for millennia, including by the Knights Hospitaller, the Order of St John, after battles in the Crusades, which is most likely where the name came from. Both hypericin and hyperforin are under study for their potential antibiotic properties.
People have been using St. John’s wort for centuries. Today, the popular herb is often used to ease the symptoms of depression.
St. John’s wort is widely believed to boost mood and provide some relief from depression, but it’s not exactly clear how it works.
Researchers suspect that ingredients in the herb (hypericin and hyperforin) may increase levels of certain brain chemicals, like serotonin. People with depression often have low levels of serotonin and other neurotransmitters.1?
One reason people may wish to try the natural remedy for depression (as opposed to antidepressants that can increase serotonin) is that St. John’s wort tends to have fewer side effects than medications.2?
The herb is also being explored for the following health concerns:
*Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
*Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
An oil made from St. John’s wort has also been used topically for wound healing and a variety of other skin conditions such as eczema and hemorrhoids.
Although the benefit of St. John’s wort is still being explored, research suggests the herb can be more effective than a placebo in alleviating mild-to-moderate depression.
The most comprehensive research on St. John’s wort and major depression includes a 2018 report published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic
Known Hazards: The plant is poisonous to livestock. The primary phytochemical constituents of St John’s wort are hyperforin and hypericin.
St John’s wort may cause allergic reactions, and can interact in dangerous, sometimes life-threatening ways with a variety of prescribed medicines. St John’s wort is generally well tolerated, but may cause gastrointestinal discomfort (such as nausea, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, and diarrhea), dizziness, confusion, fatigue, sedation, dry mouth, restlessness, and headache.
The organ systems associated with adverse drug reactions to St John’s wort and fluoxetine (an SSRI) have a similar incidence profile; most of these reactions involve the central nervous system. St John’s wort also decreases the levels of estrogens, such as estradiol, by accelerating its metabolism, and should not be taken by women on contraceptive pills. St John’s wort may cause photosensitivity. This can lead to visual sensitivity to visible and ultraviolet light and to sunburns in situations that would not normally cause them.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.