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St. John’s Wort is an herb that grows wild throughout Europe, and is also found scattered in some regions in North and South America, Asia, South Africa, the Middle East, and Australia.
The plant grows to about three feet in height and has pretty yellow flowers. It earned its rather unusual name from the practice of harvesting the herb on St. John’s Day or June 24th. A sprig of this herb once was hung above the doors of homes on S. John’s Day to ward off evil.
St. John’s Wort is known by several different names including Kamath weed, goat week, Chase-devil, and Tipton’s weed. In scientific circles, it is referred to as Hypericum perforatum.
Perhaps what makes St. John’s Wort so unique is that its health benefits have been tested, and verified, by the scientific community. It is also frequently prescribed by medical professionals.
St. John’s Wort is available in a number of forms, including raw, oil, tincture, and capsule. Each form serves its own uses.
The chemical ingredients include flavonoids, and antioxidants, which have an impact on the chemical, physical, and hormonal behavior of the body.
It is an incredibly powerful supplement. However, it does have a few side effects so it is important to discuss it with your doctor before using it.
What are the Benefits of St. John’s Wort?
Today, St. John’s Wort is mainly used and known for its anti-depressant properties. The herb contains a rare combination of chemicals that affects the neurotransmitters in the brain, making them more likely to bind with receptors. It also helps to increase dopamine and serotonin levels, which improves your overall mood. It is the most common of all the herbs for depression.
However, there are other impressive health benefits, as well. While there are still studies ongoing, it appears that this herb may help in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, although more research is needed.
Additionally, it can be used to reduce symptoms of anxiety, as well as mood swings. It achieves this by regulating the body’s hormonal balance. It can also knock the internal clock back into line, which improves sleep patterns, thus relieving irritability, and further worsening of depressive symptoms.
Other benefits of St John’s Wort are its ability to protect against viral infections, regulate hormones, treat irritable bowel syndrome, reduce inflammation, and soothe the nervous system.
It seems to have a calming effect on the digestive tract and also reduces chronic stress hormones, which improves your overall health and wellbeing, as well as cognitive functions.
St John’s Wort also serves a purpose in relieving menopausal mood swings. In fact, it is recommended for women for this purpose, as well as to alleviate pre-menstrual syndrome. The chemical ingredients reduce mood swings and anxiety for women experiencing menopause while reducing the depression, irritation, and severity of cramping that comes with PMS.
When it comes to addiction and withdrawal the research is ongoing, however the early indicators are positive. It is particularly helpful in easing the cravings when quitting alcohol and cigarettes.
St John’s Wort has a soothing nature due to its makeup of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, which makes it the ideal option for easing arthritis, gout, muscle paint, and joint aches.
Are There any Side Effects?
The most common side effects are nausea, dizziness, fatigue, and confusion. While this only occurs in a small percentage of individuals, it can have a serious effect in patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
Because of the intense hormonal reactions St John’s Wort causes, it can be dangerous to mix with medications. If you are currently taking medications or have these conditions, it is imperative that you speak to your doctor to find out whether you can take it.
According to WebMD, it is safe to use continuously for 12 weeks, but should not be taken in large doses orally.
So Is It Safe to Use St. John’s Wort for Depression?
St Johns wart should be a definite consideration for those who suffer from depression. However, it can react negatively with some medications and other supplements. Before you start adding this or other supplements to your daily plan, it is advised that you speak with your physician or herbalist first. Most doctors are well aware of the benefits and may even prescribe this herb themselves.
As the most extensively studied herbal supplement it is fair to say that St John’s Wort stands up to scrutiny, particularly the claims that it can alleviate symptoms of depression.
However, you must consult your doctor before stopping prescribed medications, or taking St John’s Wort in conjunction with them.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to serve as medical advice. Please consult your physician before using any herbs or essential oils for medical purposes. See Full Disclaimer here.