This beautiful bright yellow flower, St John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) is becoming well known for its gentle uplifting, de-stressing, and soothing qualities.
A native to Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa, St John’s Wort is now a very common plant throughout Australia and New Zealand, with some locations referring to it as a noxious weed! St John’s wort can get up to a metre in height and features yellow-star-shaped flowers.
St John’s Wort is thought to have been named in the first century (AD) because it’s usual time for flowering and harvesting was in midsummer in the Northern Hemisphere, during St John’s day (celebrating the day that St John the Baptist was born). St John was symbolic of ‘light’ and so flowers were used as a reminder of the life-giving nature of the sun during festivals of this time celebrating the longest day. The word ‘wort’ was an old English word for plant.
St John’s Wort has been shown to be beneficial during times of stress in supporting the way that the body adapts to these stressors. It can help support a positive mood and help manage mild feelings of anxiety and nervous unrest. This can result in a healthier mental and emotional frame of mind. With the stress of modern life afflicting people in different ways, the support of herbs available to us is a wonderful resource.
St John’s Wort contains many chemical constituents, over 150! But two in particular have been studied extensively for their actions on the nervous system for mood balance. These constituents are hypericin and hyperforin. It has also been acknowledged that the constituents, along with the whole plant create the actions which complements how herbalists understand plant action. Hypericin is a fluorescent red pigment and can pass through the blood-brain barrier. Hyperforin seems to influence various neurotransmitters in the brain. Research continues in to the therapeutic application of St John’s wort.
St John’s wort is available as a loose herb for consuming as a tea. As well as this, it is available in capsule and tablet. For support with relieving nerve pain, wounds and bites, St John’s wort is also available for external topical application.
St John’s Wort can affect the way certain medications work, such as the oral contraceptive pill and antidepressants, so discussing your specific concerns with a qualified health practitioner is of vital importance prior to use.
Higher doses of this plant (over 2000mg) seems to increase the risk of photosensitivity and there isn’t enough information available to confirm whether this plant is safe for use in pregnancy or breastfeeding, so avoidance is advised.
-The HealthPost Naturopaths
A range of quality St John’s Wort supplements are available for secure order from our online shop. All NZ’s leading brands are stocked, and all of our prices are below NZ RRP.