St. John’s Wort (Hypericum Perforatum) is a herbaceous perennial, from the Clusiaceae family. It was used in traditional pharmacopoeia to treat insomnia and reduce anxiety. It is considered by some to be the ‘best natural anti-depressant‘ there is.
St. John’s Wort is said to support:
These health claims, allowed by the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority), are currently being examined by this same organisation.
St. John’s Wort is known to contain high levels of hypericin, a natural pigment from the naphtodianthrone family.
For a better understanding of how the plant works, we need to focus on our synapses. A synapsis forms a sort of information channel between two neurons in the brain: one which sends the message and the other which receives it.
The neurotransmitters responsible for transferring this information via synapses include the famous ‘happy hormones’ associated with feelings of pleasure, well-being and other positive emotions.
The problem is that a significant proportion of these neurotransmitters can be instantly recaptured by the ‘sender’ neurons. The more this happens, the less the brain receives the happiness and pleasure information … and the greater the effect on the individual’s mood.
A number of in vivo tests have shown that the hypericin in St. John’s Wort appears to inhibit the recapture of serotonin and noradrenalin (1). The synthetic compounds used in treatments for depression exploit precisely this kind of mechanism.
According to researchers at the CNRS (Center National de la Recherche Scientifique) and University Hospital of Montpellier, “only a St. John’s Wort extract with a guaranteed content of active principles has demonstrated therapeutic efficacy”(2).
Indeed the concentration of active ingredients in individual plants can vary considerably depending on the soil, growing conditions, etc. It’s therefore important to check the hypericin content of your supplement, which should ideally be in the region of 0.3% (try, for example, the excellent product St John's Wort Extract). (4)
As with many plants used in phytotherapy, St. John’s Wort can sometimes interact with other medications and is thus contraindicated in certain cases. Always check with your doctor before taking St. John’s Wort.
St. John’s Wort may affect the efficacy of drug treatments in the following cases:
Dark thoughts, constant sadness, exhaustion… Depression is the kind of unhappiness that needs to be taken seriously. Here’s our advice on how to keep seeing the light at the end of the tunnel day after day.
Knot in the stomach, racing heart, frayed nerves: stress certainly knows how to sow discord in our bodies. Discover the 5 most effective supplements for maintaining a calm outlook on life.
What role does hugging play in our health? Are these exchanges of affection essential to our survival? Discover how many hugs a day science recommends.
There are many reasons why consumers choose to take tryptophan. Discover the benefits and dietary sources of this essential amino acid.
Could this already controversial and ubiquitous sweetener be responsible for an epidemic of hereditary anxiety? The latest research sheds light on the subject.
In a recent study, researchers transferred the microbiota of non-autistic children to 18 autistic children. What were the results? What do they tell us about the gut-brain axis?