St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) is an herb that’s sometimes used effectively for treatment of depression. It is believed to contain ingredients that may help the brain produce more serotonin, which produces feelings of well-being in the body.
The plant is named after St. John, the Baptist and produces yellow petals in groups of five that resemble a halo. Red sap runs from the plant and is said to be a symbol of the blood of St. John. Part of its scientific name, Hypericum, means “greatest health” in Greek.
For many centuries, St. John’s Wort has been used as a sedative and to treat wounds, burns and sleep disorders. Now, St. John’s Wort is believed to be valuable in treating anxiety, sleep disorders such as insomnia and depression.
St. John’s Wort can be purchased in capsules, extracts and teas. In the United States, it’s not sold as a prescription, but can be purchased over-the-counter. In Europe the herb is prescribed by physicians for depression and other illnesses.
Even though St. John’s Wort has been tested and scientifically researched it’s never safe for you to diagnose your own illness. Here are some things you need to consider BEFORE taking an herbal remedy – or any type of medication:
- If you’re severely depressed and have suicidal tendencies, consult a health professional before taking St. John’s Wort.
- Don’t take St. John’s Wort if you’ve been diagnosed as bipolar.
- Don’t stop prescription medications – consult a health professional first.
- If you’re pregnant or lactating, don’t take anything without first consulting a health professional.
Some side effects associated with taking St. John’s Wort are mild to severe allergic reactions, sensitivity to light, tiredness and nausea. You could also experience a lessened libido, headaches, dizziness and dry mouth.
If you’re thinking of taking St. John’s Wort, seek the advice of a health professional before you begin as it may react dangerously with some medications and ingredients in food.