St.John’s Wort For Anxiety and Depression

beautiful yellow hypericumSt.John's Wort also known as Hypericum is used traditionally to give a sedative and pain relieving effect and has been used to treat sunburn and menstrual pain. The botanical name is Hypericum Perforatum – usually shortened to Hypericum, and yes the common garden plant belongs to this plant family.

Side Effects and Drug Interactions

As for Side Effects, "St John's Wort is generally well tolerated, with an adverse effect profile similar to placebo". That is geek speak for almost no side effects.  Source
There is one rare side effect that affects a very small number of people and that is that ultra violet light may trigger photosensitivity after taking the herb.
Also the herb must not be used in pregnancy!
Be cautious if you are taking any medical drugs because interactions with pharmaceutical drugs however are extensive.
This happens mostly because it boosts the detoxing power of the liver – especially the Phase 1 Detoxification enzymes known as the P450 system.
And that means that many pharmaceutical drugs will be the target of this enhanced detox and will be made inactive more quickly than without taking it.
Anyone taking any drug medicines is encouraged to check their medicines and to consult with the health professional prescribing the medication.
In particular St. John's Wort may render Oral Contraceptives less effective.
Here is a small selection of Drug interactions involved
Statins (cholesterol-reducing medications)


Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention Deficit hyperactivity Disorder have anxiety at their root and they are basically the same. ADD kids seem quiet and dreamy and ADHD kids want to zoom around.
I was the quiet dreamy kid and a year behind at school at the age of 7. Part of that was time out of school with a whole slew of childhood illnesses and part my panic and overwhelm at school.
One year in a small special unit with a small class with a lot less happening and an atmosphere of safety and reassurance and I was fine.
I am still pretty dreamy though and happy with it 🙂
No medication used for me but St. John's Wort works well to soothe kids and adults.
I dare say other soothing, anti-anxiety herbs such as Chamomile would work too. I would also recommend magnesium to help ADD/ADHD and test for Zinc using the Zinc Taste Test.

Anxiety and anorexia

Many trials have been done studying the effects of taking St.John's Wort as a treatment for anxiety, OCD, and anorexia.
Not all of them show positive results and when you chase up the details of the study you find that it was not a trial of the herb at all but some fraction of the herb. The whole ruckus that ensues is totally predictable and silly.
If you use St.John's Wort expect to get results and if you use an extract you may or may not depending on which extract you use.
Importantly, there is considerable variation in the preparations of St. John’s Wort available over the counter.
st.john's wort vegecaps
For a long time mild and moderate depression has been treated with Hypericum and severe depression thought to be outside it's powers.  Care needs to be taken in any case where someone is mixing drug and herbal medicines and expert help sought.
Apart from these routine cautions it's clear that Hypericum is a powerful help in dealing with a wide range of health problems.
Have you tried St.John's Wort / Hypericum? How effective did you find it?
Picture credit:  Garry Knight

AuthorAlex Newell ND

I love learning and being healthy so as soon as I came across Yoga, read and practised to get the health benefits. When I was approaching middle age my health declined under the onslaught o stress and possibly poor diet, I had a perfect opportunity to learn more and I qualified in both Osteopathy and Naturopathy. Our health really is in our own hands and not in the hands of "The Doctor" or our Genes :-)

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