St John’s wort, or Hypericum perforatum, is a plant that you find everywhere in Europe, and nowadays also everywhere else. It grows in dry, but nutrient-rich places and you find it along the track, the road, in meadows and in the bushes. It is a perennial plant from the deer-shrub family (Hypericaceae). The herb blooms with yellow flowers from June to September and harvesting starts when the sun is at its highest, around the St. John’s Feast on June 24. The plant has been used for centuries as a medicinal herb and as a natural antidepressant.
What is it for?
St John’s wort can be used for various purposes. As mentioned, St John’s wort contains a natural antidepressant and it can really help you if it doesn’t work out for a while and you feel listless and depressed. If you suffer from gloomy showers, John’s wort tablets can remove the sharp edges and help you through your dip. The herb provides support during difficult periods through rest, optimism and new courage. This is because it contains substances that have a strengthening and calming effect on the nervous system. It helps against all kinds of stress symptoms, such as heart palpitations, hyperventilation, bedwetting, headache, insomnia, and even stuttering.
Tablets are available with St. John’s wort, but it is also available as an oil, tincture or cream. The oil is dark red in color and helps very well with burns, after sunburn or with winter hands. Furthermore, you can also use it as a massage oil for muscle and joint pain, because it has a warming effect and stimulates blood flow.
In addition, it has a disinfecting effect and can, therefore, be applied as a tincture to a wound or as drops in the ear for ear pain.
It also has a calming effect on eczema. However, do not use St. John’s wort in oil form before you go into the sun, because it is light sensitive.
Active substances in Hypericum perforatum
For the body to function properly (and therefore the mind!), Information must be transferred between the nerve cells in the brain. This transfer takes place with the help of the so-called neurotransmitters. A disruption of certain neurotransmitters can result in depressive symptoms and probably vice versa.
St John’s wort contains various substances that have an anti-depressive effect. The most important of these are the hypericin’s, which include hypericin, pseudohypericin and hyperforin. These are psychoactive substances that work upliftingly by inhibiting the re-uptake of the neurotransmitters serotonin, noradrenaline and dopamine, and at the same time, it also prevents the re-uptake of L-glutamate and GABAD. If you take St John’s wort, approximately 20% of the hypericin eventually ends up in your bloodstream after 1 to 2 hours. It remains in the blood circulation for more than 24 hours.
A mix of these three substances helps to prevent mild depression. However, not all St John’s wort tablets contain all three substances. In fact, the composition of various St John’s wort preparations can vary considerably. Sometimes it only contains hypericin, but that too often works well. It is nevertheless advisable to compare the different brands.
Dosage and duration
How St John’s wort can best be dosed depends a bit on your complaints. For this, also go by the guidelines on the package leaflet or the jar. How long you have to keep taking the tablets also depends on your symptoms. It is usually recommended to swallow for a while after your symptoms have disappeared. This is to prevent a relapse.
When does St John’s wort start to work?
When you really start to notice the effect depends on the severity of your symptoms and the composition of the extract. Usually, you begin to notice the first effect after about 2 weeks and after 4 to 6 weeks you will see a marked improvement in symptoms. In principle, you do not have to reduce the use of St. John’s wort tablets, but if you are afraid of a relapse, it may be better for your own self-confidence to decrease gradually.