Different types of herbs and plants are used to make medications to treat diverse human disorders and ailments, as it is. St. John’s wort is one such example. This plant with yellow flowers is grown mostly in the USA but now it is also found in various parts of Europe and Canada. It has been used for various medicinal purposes over the centuries. Modern studies have also indicated its efficacy for treating various medical disorders and syndromes. St. John’s wort is also known by names like Klamath weed, Rosin Rose and Amber Touch-and-Heal.
The plant has bright yellow flowers and shrub like structure. In a number of studies conducted in last few decades, efficacy of St. John’s wort has been indicated over standard medications for fighting depression and anxiety disorders. In the ancient ages, it was hailed for its healing and anti inflammatory properties. It is said to be as effective as tricyclic antidepressants. Studies are also being conducted to find its effect on other mental disorders. It is believed that two compound present in the herb, namely hypericin and hyperforin are responsible for its medicinal benefits. It is available in tinctures, dry herb and tablet form.
Medicinal uses and health benefits of St. John’s wort
- Depression related conditions– John’s wort has been used widely mostly in European countries for helping victims of depression. As it is, a lot of German physicians recommend it for this purpose. It can also be used to help adolescents cope with depression. In some countries, you can buy this herb based products as OTC medications while in countries like Ireland this is sold as a prescription drug.
- Anxiety disorder–While studies are still being conducted on this, Doctors in European countries think the herb is effective in battling anxiety disorders in adults. People suffering from anxiety related disorders can drink this as infusion or herbal tea for benefits.
- ADHD- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, abbreviated as ADHD is turning out to be a major problem in kids across the continents. John’s wort can be used to treat this condition.
- Other benefits– While extensive studies have not been conducted on these, preliminary studies indicate St. John’s wort can be useful in treating neuropathic pain and OCD.
- Treating skin conditions- Oil extracted from this herb has been used since ages to treat a number of skin conditions. It is used for treating nerve pain, skin injuries and small burns.
- Fatigue- This herb is also said to be beneficial for treating fatigue, and women suffering from menstrual cramps can also take it. It is also used sometimes to give relief from post surgical pain.
Things to be cautious when you use it
You need to be careful when using St. John’s wort as it can cause adverse reactions in some instances. Possible side effects include:
- Allergic reactions
- Increased blood pressure
- Restlessness and fatigue
- Enhanced light and sun sensitivity, more so in people with white skin
- Mild stomach problems
Since it enhances photosensitivity, users should use sunscreen for safety.
Under some situations, it is advisable that you do not use St. John’s wort. These are:
- Women who have conceived should not use this herb. Even new mothers who are breastfeeding to their infants should not use it.
- Studies have shown this herb can actually diminish efficacy of certain medications. For example, it can interfere with functioning of specific heart disease medications and birth control pills. It can also affect those taking Anticonvulsants and contraceptives. So, you should start taking this herb only after discussing with the doctor, to be safe.