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  • Active ingredient: Hypericin
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What is St John’s Wort Extract (Hypericin)

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You may have heard people recommend St John’s Wort as a treatment for various medical conditions and you might be wondering, what is St John’s Wort extract? St John’s wort extract is a supplement that is derived from leaves and followers of a plant known as Hypericum perforatum. This extract has been used for many years as a treatment for various medical conditions including depression and anxiety. Its history dates back to the middle ages when it was used by ancient herbalists such as Pliny and Hippocrates for its diuretic and wound-healing properties. This plant has anti-inflammatory and anti-depressant properties which make it a COX-1 inhibitor and an arachidonate 5-lipoxygenase inhibitor. Although this plant is native to the Europe continent, it has been naturalized and it can now be found in most temperate climates globally especially North America. It is a perennial plant that produces yellow, star-shaped flowers with abundant, long stamens. However, despite having many medical uses, St John’s Wort extract has its side effects too. They include constipation, dizziness, confusion and dry mouth. 

St John’s Wort Extract Benefits

1. Use St John’s wort to treat depression and anxiety 

According to a study that was published on the Smart Publications Journal, St. John’s Wort extract has several chemical compounds with hyperforin and hypercin being the main active compounds. The scientific mechanism behind this activity of these compounds is their ability to prevent neurotransmitters dopamine, neropinephrine and serotonin’s re-uptake. Neurotransmitters are chemicals in human brain that are associated with depression. 

2. Take St John’s Wort extract as a weight loss supplement 

Preliminary research indicates that St. John’s Wort extract can be used as a weight loss supplement. According to an online health information library, PeaceHealth, St. John’s Wort extract helps in improving alertness and energy while relieving anxiety and depression. The scientific mechanism behind this activity is the fact that since depression, anxiety and stress cause weight gains and St. John’s wort extract has been proven effective in relieving them, it can therefore be used effectively as a weight loss supplement. However, further research is required to prove this. 

3. Use St John’s Wort extract to treat Somatoform disorders 

Somatoform disorders refer to mental symptoms that include fear and pain that does not have a reason or physical source. Evidence from early research shows that St. John’s Wort extract can help with these disorders. According to a study that was published by the International Network of Integrative Mental Health Journal, the extract acts as an antidepressant and this helps in relieving the symptoms of somatoform disorders.

St John’s Wort Extract Dosage

To treat depression and anxiety, take 500 mg of the extract for up to one year. As a weight loss supplement, take between 500 and 1,050 mg of the extract daily with a professional healthcare provider determining the duration over which to take it. To treat somatoform disorders, take 600mg per day until the condition gets better.

St John’s Wort Extract Side Effects

By now you are no longer asking, what is St. John’s Wort extract? Your concern is probably its potential side effects. Some of the potential adverse effects of this extract include stomach upset, dry mouth, constipation, dizziness, insomnia, anxiety, skin rashes, rapid heartbeat and confusion. To avoid these side effects, consult your doctor before using the extract as a treatment or supplement. Also take St. John’s Wort extract as prescribed by the physician or the manufacturer.  

Warnings

There are reports that St. John’s Wort extract interacts with several nonprescription and prescription drugs. Therefore, avoid taking the extract when taking other drugs. There is also no adequate evidence to prove the safety of taking the extract when pregnant or breastfeeding. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should therefore avoid the extract. 

References:

  1. Smart Publications Journal: St. John’s Wort treats depression without causing side effects
  2. PeaceHealth: St. John’s Wort extract for weight control
  3. International Network of Integrative Mental Health Journal: St. John’s Wort efficacy in treating somatoform disorders
  4. Drugs.com: St. John Wort

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