St Johns Wort or the ‘sunshine herb’, is a upright perennial with attractive yellow flowers and is native to Europe and the United States. It normally flowers around St Johns day, June 24th, which is how it gets its common name. The flowers, leaves and stems are used in herbal medicine.

Medicinal Properties of St Johns Wort

St Johns Wort contains several compounds including, hypericin, hyperforin, flavonoids and volatile oils. Hypericin is thought to be the key active constituent that affects mood, however recent research suggests that hyperforin is responsible for this action. Whichever it is, St Johns Wort is a very effective natural anti-depressant. It is also antiviral and antibacterial.

St Johns Wort Herbal Remedies

Our herbalists recommend St Johns wort for the following disorders:

Cold sores
Depression

Other St Johns Wort Information

St Johns Wort is also used by herbalists to treat seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and Anxiety, and it is available in tablets, capsules and tinctures. Standardised extracts are also available.

St Johns Wort can be used in tincture form for children 3 years of age and above. Herb tincture dosage is lower than adult levels – a simple guide for children is one drop per stone of weight.

Side Effects of St Johns Wort

This ancient herbal remedy was given a very bad press a few years ago when a few studies seemed to show that it had bad side effects for some people. Our experts, however, believe that these were somewhat exaggerated. Most research shows that St Johns Wort is very effective for treating mild to moderate Depression – and it doesn’t have the side effects of drugs used to treat emotional and psychological problems. It is even chosen over conventional drugs in Germany by doctors.

Following those few negative studies, however, we do recommend that, if you are considering taking St Johns Wort, you should talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you are on the following:
Asthma drugs (theophylline, aminophyline)
Anticonvulsants (carbamazepine, phenobarbitone, phenytoin)
Anti-depressants – Triptans (sumatriptan, naratriptan, rizatriptan, zolmitriptan)
Anti-depressants – SSRIs (citalopram, fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, paroxetine, sertraline)
Anti-depressants – other (venlafaxine, trozodone, nefazodone, phenelzine)
Oral contraceptive pill – all brands
Digoxin
HIV medication (indinavir, nelfinavir, ritonavir, efavirenz, nevirapine)
Immuno-supressant medication (cyclosporine)
Warfarin

If you are not on any of the above medication, the only thing to be aware of is that St Johns wort can make the skin more sensitive to sunlight, particularly in fair-skinned individuals. Strong sunlight should be avoided or use a good sun-screen.

St Johns Wort is best avoided in pregnancy and when breast-feeding. It is also best avoided by people with clinical Depression.

When this article was written there were no other well-known negative drug interactions with the herb St Johns wort.

St Johns Wort has not been available for sale in Ireland for some time because of its potential interactions with drug-based medications.