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15 Health Benefits of St. John's Wort

Updated on October 20, 2014
Chuck Bluestein profile image

At age 16 I was a volunteer at a hospital bacteriology lab. I became a chemist for U.S. government. Then I studied health & related fields.

St. John's Wort

St. John's wort flower. CAM stand for complimentary and alternative medicine.
St. John's wort flower. CAM stand for complimentary and alternative medicine. | Source
St. John's Wort plant.
St. John's Wort plant. | Source

Health Benefits of St. John's wort

The Latin or scientific name for St. John's wort is hypericum perforatum. Herbs usually have one benefit that it is most famous for and other benefits. This herb is most famous for treating depression.

The Harry Potter movies and books have become very popular. Now things on it about waving a magic wand and turning a horse into a pumpkin are fiction. But it also has on it using herbs to heal ailments. That is not fiction.

St. John's wort has been used to heal people for 2,400 years. Here is what says about St. John's wort:

St. John’s wort is an herb. Its flowers and leaves are used to make medicine.

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.

It also lists many more benefits of this herb. I looked at many websites that said that it was good for mild or moderate depression, but not for severe depression. This herb is nicknamed the happiness herb or the herb of happiness.

The NCCAM (National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine) is one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Alternative medicine is medicine used instead of conventional medicine. Complimentary medicine is used in addition to conventional medicine.

For 2012, St. John's wort was one of the top 5 herbs that were searched for in 2012 on the NCCAM website. The others include evening primrose oil, aloe vera, echinacea and fenugreek. These links are articles on these herbs.

Dr. James A. Duke is an American botanist that spent over 30 years working for the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture). He created a database of the different phytochemicals (plant medicines) that are in herbs, plant foods and herbal foods and what they could do for health.

He wrote a book about the best 13 herbs for health and healing. See the Best 13 Herbs for Health and Healing. This list includes St. John's wort. This list also includes echinacea, turmeric, ginkgo biloba and hawthorn berries.

But history may be very different if Eckhart Tolle had been under a doctor's care and had gotten him on medication. The University of Maryland Medical Center webpage says:

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 that doctors often prescribe first to treat depression. They include fluoxetine (Prozac), citalopram (Celexa), and sertraline (Zoloft). In addition, St. John’s wort doesn’t seem to have one of the most common side effects of antidepressants, which is loss of sex drive.

So aren't they saying above that this herb is better than those drugs mentioned since it works as well and doesn't have all those terrible side effects. And you do not need to be concerned that they will be recalling one of those drugs since they were killing people. Also the last time that I looked those drugs are only approved to be used for a certain time.

So in the above you learn that fluoxetine is Prozac. PubMed is part of the U.S Library of Medicine that is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Here is their article called A Double-blind, randomized trial of St John's wort, fluoxetine, and placebo in major depressive disorder. It says under CONCLUSION:

St John's wort was significantly more effective than fluoxetine [prozac].

PubMed has another article called St John's wort for depression. It says under REVIEWER'S CONCLUSIONS:

There is evidence that extracts of hypericum [St. John's wort] are more effective than placebo [like a sugar pill or something that has no physical effect] for the short-term treatment of mild to moderately severe depressive disorders.

Latest News! Many people are suing Pfizer, the manufacturer of Zoloft since there was no warning that it could cause severe birth defects in infants or babies. Zoloft Lawsuit says:

Zoloft is an antidepressant from the sertraline family, which is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor or SSRI. Zoloft is prescribed for treating premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety and panic disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder [OCD] or depression. However, recently it has come to light that Zoloft, causes severe birth defects in babies born to Zoloft users. Pfizer's inability to inform patients of these side effects is why the Lawsuits against Zoloft started.

But doctors continue to have people take them since they do not know what else they can do. But if something goes wrong the manufacturer can blame it on the doctor for using it past that time limit. Dr. Steve Ilardi has a PhD in clinical psychology and has been doing a lot of research on depression. He is the author of over 40 professional articles on mental illness and is a nationally recognized expert on depression.

As far as causes of depression he says:

Exercise is medicine.

We were never designed for the sedentary, indoor, socially isolated, fast-food-laden, sleep-deprived, frenzied pace of modern life.

For more information on this see the article, What is the Purpose of Depression.

15 Benefits of St. John's Wort

Below is a list of things that St. John's wort can help.

1. Depression

This is what it is most well known for. The medical center above says that it is better for depression than drugs.

2. Anxiety

This is said to accompany depression.

3. Trouble Sleeping

This is also said to accompany depression

4. Loss of Appetite

This is another one that goes along with depression.

5. SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)

This is sadness caused by a lack of sunlight but this herb improves mood.

6. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)

A study shows it may help relieve physical and emotional symptoms of PMS in some women, including irritability, cramps, food cravings and breast tenderness.

7. Menopause

Two studies showed that St. John's wort combined with black cohosh can help improve mood and anxiety during menopause.

8. Hemorrhoids

St. John's wort helps hemorrhoids, wounds, minor burns and exzema. It has anti-inflammatory properties.

9. Obsessive Compulsion Disorder (OCD)

A study showed that it improved this.

10. Headaches

This can help with headaches.

11. Nerve Pain

12. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Here is a PubMed study about this:

Effects of antidepressive treatment of Saint John's wort extract related to autonomic nervous function in women with irritable bowel syndrome.

Conclussions: Antidepressive treatment can improve the conditions of psychology and the ANS reactivity to stress in patients with IBS.

13. Antibacterial and Antiviral

14. Helps Ulcers

15. Anti-inflammatory

This one benefits helps with many disease. The age-related diseases are prevented by reducing inflammation. There is even new information that this that this is what really hurts the arteries instead of cholesterol.

As mentioned below medications can have interactions with food, herbs and herbal foods. Also medication can interact with each other.

St John's Wort - A Better Option For Depression

The safe and proper use of St. Johns Wort


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