St. John's Wort Extract
Common Name: St. John’s Wort
Latin Name: Hypericum perforatum
I feel a special connection to this herb and I’m somewhat protective of it. There are certain herbs that seem to sound the alarm bells in people, and St. John's wort is one of them. I have gotten many angry emails over the years as to how dare I use this herb in our products especially in our baby care, as it will not cause photo-sensitivity or possibly depression?
Granted there are cautions to be considered when taking St. John's wort internally, that I will touch on later in this blog, but few know the amazing topical benefits this plant offers for inflammation, nerve pain, burns, wound healing and bruising.
St. John's wort can be found growing all over the Northern hemisphere in meadows and fields. I’ve started to propagate it in my own garden as the Ontario government has been eradicating it over the past two decades, hence, it is quite challenging to find currently in the wild.
I have fond memories of spending summer hours in fields picking the fresh blooms to extract the precious red oil that is so valued for topical treatments.
Parts Used: Aerial parts
Hypericin, hyperforin, pseudohupericin, procyanidins, tannins, flavonoids.
Anti-inflammatory, astringent, vulnerary, sedative, anti-bacterial.
St. John's wort is most well known for treating depression and anxiety with numerous studies having been conducted. It is very effective for treating mild depression, anxiety, stress, tension, nerve damage, and seasonal affective disorder (SAD) . While St. John's wort is effective therapy for depression, it should not be used for severe depression and as such does not act as a drug. Like many herbs, it needs to be used over a period of time for full effect.
Hypericin, one of the herb's active constituents, increases the metabolism of serotonin and melatonin which aid the body’s ability to receive and store light. Hyperforin another important constituent contributes to emotional stability by slowing the uptake of feel-good neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin and noradrenaline.
Both internally or externally, St. John's wort has marked anti-bacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties which make it helpful for treating bacterial and viral infections such as shingles and herpes. I have found it also helpful in conditions such as restless legs and neuropathy as it has been primarily valued as a treatment for damage to the nerve endings.
The rich red oil made from the bright yellow flowers is simply one of the best remedies for trauma to the skin, applied topically to soothe and heal bruises, sprains, burns and injuries of all kinds. It not only relieves pain but also promotes tissue repair and speeds recovery. The oil is especially useful for the healing of sunburn.
Taken internally St. John's wort has a sedative and pain reducing effect which gives it a place in the treatment of anxiety, tension and be helpful for menopause and PMS where anxiety and irritability are associated.
St. John's wort has a rich and colorful history. From the time of the ancient Greeks down through the Middle Ages, the herb was considered to be imbued with magical powers and was used to ward off evil and protect against illness.
Cautions: St. John's wort can cause photo-sensitivity (sensitivity to the sun) in some people, however, externally it is particularly good for burns and often used in sunscreens to protect against sun damage. Although it is beneficial for depression it should not be taken for severe depression or during pregnancy. Lastly, St. John's wort may react with certain medications so it's good to check with your doctor to see if it is contraindicated.