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Herb of the month - St. John's Wort

A herb that can make you happy

St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum) has been a medicinal plant for over 2000 years. Ancient Greek physicians, Dioscorides and Hippocrates, recommended St. John's Wort as a diuretic and to treat nervousness, menstrual issues, fevers, burns and cuts. It was used both topically and internally for snakebites, haemorrhages, swellings and back pain. St. John's Wort was also traditionally ingested to treat gastric complaints, intestinal worms, dysentery, jaundice, gravel, manias, tremors and hysteria; externally being used as a remedy for wounds, bruises and removing freckles.


St. John's Wort is an effective treatment for mild-to-moderate depression and equivalent to pharmaceutical antidepressants. It has been widely considered as an alternative to antidepressants for children and adolescents because it is potentially safe, well-tolerated and clinically effective treatment for youth diagnosed with mild-to-severe depression. It may also be effective in treating generalised anxiety disorder, panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder and insomnia caused by depression or stress.


It can also improve memory and brain function and is effective against neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.


In addition, St. John's Wort is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antiviral. It helps with wound healing and is effective against various viruses including influenza and various enveloped viruses such as herpes simplex types 1 and 2, varicella-zoster, and human immunodeficiency virus type 1.


One safety concern regarding St. John's Wort is its ability to alter the pharmacokinetics of several clinically-important drugs. The most common St. John's Wort interactions include:

  • Reduced blood cyclosporin concentration.

  • Serotonin syndrome or lethargy when combined with serotonin reuptake inhibitors.

  • Unwanted pregnancies in women taking oral contraceptives and St. John's Wort simultaneously.

  • Reduced plasma concentration of antiretroviral drugs.

If you would like to try St. John’s Wort, first consult a specialist regarding its suitability for you.



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St Lucia, Queensland, Australia

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