In recent years, St. John’s wort has been studied extensively as a treatment for depression. Most studies show that St. John's wort may help treat mild-to-moderate depression, and has fewer side effects than most other prescription antidepressants. But it interacts with a number of medications, so it should be taken only under the guidance of a health care provider.
St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum) and the Human Body
There is good evidence that St. John's wort may reduce symptoms in people with mild-to-moderate, but not severe (or major) depression. In many studies it seems to work as well as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), a popular type of antidepressant often prescribed to treat depression. SSRIs include fluoxetine (Prozac), citalopram (Celexa), and sertraline (Zoloft). In addition, St. John's wort doesn't seem to cause loss of sex drive, one of the most common side effects of antidepressants.
St. John's wort contains several chemicals, including hypericin, hyperforin, and flavonoids. Researchers aren't exactly sure how St. John's wort works. Some have suggested that the herb acts similar to an SSRI, increasing the availability of the brain chemicals serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. These neurotransmitters help improve mood. Scientists thought that hypericin was responsible, but now they believe that other chemicals in St. John's wort may help.
Not all studies agree, however. In one study, St. John's wort was found to be no more effective than placebo for treating depression. But these studies should be weighed against the majority that have found St. John's wort helps depression. For example, in the same study, Zoloft also failed to show any benefit in treating depression. Many other studies have compared St. John's wort to Prozac, Celexa, paroxetine (Paxil), and Zoloft, and found that the herb works as well as the drugs. Other studies are ongoing.
Our St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum) Biotechnology Research
St. John's wort has also shown promise in benefiting skin health:
Skin health through improved sleep: Anxiety is No 1 reason for insomnia, and with the anxiety taken care of, sleep pattern can improve. The stress hormone Cortisol is mainly produced by the body during awakening hours, hence with improved sleep (longer and more restorative), the body's production of Cortisol is reduced which immediately impacts the health of the skin.
Eczema, wounds and minor burns: St. John's wort has antibacterial properties and may also help fight inflammation. Applied topically (to the skin), it may relieve symptoms associated with minor wounds and skin irritation.
Other interesting research areas include:
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS): Research suggests that St. John's wort may help relieve physical and emotional symptoms of PMS in some women, including cramps, irritability, food cravings, and breast tenderness. One study reported a 50% reduction in symptom severity.
Menopause: There's some evidence to suggest that St. John's wort, combined with black cohosh, helps improve mood and anxiety during menopause.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD): Used alone, St. John's wort has improved mood in people with SAD, a type of depression that occurs during the winter months because of lack of sunlight. SAD is usually treated with light therapy. Research shows that using St. John's wort together with phototherapy works even better.
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), social phobia: One early open-label study found that taking St. John's wort 450 mg, 2 times a day for 12 weeks improved OCD symptoms. However, other studies show that St. John's wort doesn’t improve OCD.
The scientific research team behind CLINIVITA researches Hypericum perforatum for its health benefits in various therapeutic areas.