- St. John’s wort is an herb. Its flowers and leaves are used to make medicine.
- St. John’s wort is native to Europe but is commonly found in the US and Canada in the dry ground of roadsides, meadows, and woods. Although not native to Australia and long considered a weed, St. John’s wort is now grown there as a crop. Today, Australia produces 20 percent of the world’s supply.
- The use of St. John’s wort dates back to the ancient Greeks. Hippocrates recorded the medical use of St. John’s wort flowers. St. John’s wort was given its name because it blooms about June 24th, the birthday of John the Baptist. “Wort” is an old English word for plant.
- The active ingredients in St. John’s wort can be deactivated by light. That’s why you will find many products packaged in amber containers. The amber helps, but it doesn’t offer total protection against the adverse effects of light.
- St. John’s wort is most commonly used for depression and conditions that sometimes go along with depression such as anxiety, tiredness, loss of appetite and trouble sleeping. There is some strong scientific evidence that it is effective for mild to moderate depression.
- Other uses include heart palpitations, moodiness and other symptoms of menopause, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
- St. John’s wort has been tried for exhaustion, stop-smoking help, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), migraine and other types of headaches, muscle pain, nerve pain, and irritable bowel syndrome. It is also used for cancer, HIV/AIDS, and hepatitis C.
- An oil can be made from St. John’s wort. Some people apply this oil to their skin to treat bruises and scrapes, inflammation and muscle pain, first degree burns, wounds, bug bites, hemorrhoids, and nerve pain. But applying St. John’s wort directly to the skin is risky. It can cause serious sensitivity to sunlight.
- France has banned the use of St. John’s wort products. The ban appears to be based on a report issued by the French Health Product Safety Agency warning of significant interactions between St. John’s wort and some medications. Several other countries, including Japan, the United Kingdom, and Canada, are in the process of including drug-herb interaction warnings on St. John’s wort products.
- St. John’s wort is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth for up to 12 weeks. Some evidence suggests it can be used safely for over one year. It can cause some side effects such as trouble sleeping, vivid dreams, restlessness, anxiety, irritability, stomach upset, fatigue, dry mouth, dizziness, headache, skin rash, diarrhea, and tingling. Take St. John’s wort in the morning or lower the dose if it seems to be causing sleep problems.
- St. John’s wort is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth in large dose. When taken by mouth in large doses, it might cause severe reactions to sun exposure. Wear sun block outside, especially if you are light-skinned.
- St. John’s wort interacts with many drugs (see the section below). Let your healthcare provider know if you want to take St. John’s wort. Your healthcare provider will want to review your medications to see if there could be any problems.
- Pregnancy and breast-feeding: St. John’s wort is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth during pregnancy. There is some evidence that it can cause birth defects in unborn rats. No one yet knows whether it has the same effect in unborn humans. Nursing infants of mothers who take St. John’s wort can experience colic, drowsiness, and listlessness. Until more is known, do not use St. John’s wort if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
- Children: St. John’s work is POSSLBY SAFE when taken by mouth for up to 8 weeks in children 6-17 years-old.
- Infertility: There are some concerns that St. John’s wort might interfere with conceiving a child. If you are trying to conceive, don’t use St. John’s wort, especially if you have known fertility problems.
- Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): There is some concern that St. John’s wort might worsen symptoms of ADHD, especially in people taking the medication methylphenidate for ADHD. Until more is known, don’t use St. John’s wort if you are taking methylphenidate.
- Bipolar disorder: People with bipolar disorder cycle between depression and mania, a state marked by excessive physical activity and impulsive behavior. St. John’s wort can bring on mania in these individuals and can also speed up the cycling between depression and mania.
- Major depression: In people with major depression, St. John’s wort might bring on mania, a state marked by excessive physical activity and impulsive behavior.
- Schizophrenia: St. John’s wort might bring on psychosis in some people with schizophrenia.
- Alzheimer’s disease: There is concern that St. John’s wort might contribute to dementia in people with Alzheimer’s disease.
- ‘Anesthesia: Use of anesthesia in people who have used St. John’s wort for six months may lead to serious heart complications during surgery. Stop using St. John’s wort at least two weeks before a scheduled surgery.
- Surgery: St. John’s wort might affect serotonin levels in the brain and as a result interfere with surgical procedures. Stop using St. John’s wort at least two weeks before a scheduled surgery.
- St. John’s wort has many interactions. For information on St. John’s Wort Interactions See: St. John’s Wort Interactions
- Ask your health care provider if St. John’s wort may interact with other medicines that you take. Check with your health care provider before you start, stop, or change the dose of any medicine.
Amber, Amber Touch-and-Heal, Barbe de Saint-Jean, Chasse-diable, Demon Chaser, Fuga Daemonum, Goatweed, Hardhay, Herbe à la Brûlure, Herbe à Mille Trous, Herbe Aux Fées, Herbe Aux Mille Vertus, Herbe Aux Piqûres, Herbe de Saint Éloi, Herbe de la Saint-Jean, Herbe du Charpentier, Herbe Percée, Hierba de San Juan, Hypereikon, Hyperici Herba, Hypericum perforatum, Klamath Weed, Millepertuis, Millepertuis Perforé, Rosin Rose, Saint John’s Wort, Saynt Johannes Wort, SJW, Tipton Weed.
Source: WebMD, “St. John’s Wort”, www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/