4 Health Benefits of St. John’s Wort [Infographic]
St. John’s wort is a potent medicinal herb that researchers have been found to be as effective as some antidepressant drugs for improving symptoms of anxiety and depression. In addition, the herb may boost the immune system and help treat sleeping disorders. St. John’s wort blends well with other herbs and is often combined with valerian for a stronger medicinal effect.
What is St. John’s wort?
The use of St. John’s wort dates back to 400 BC and was believed to be used by the ancient Greeks and Romans to treat snake bites, gastrointestinal problems, depression, and other conditions. Considered a holy herb, St John's wort was employed for a number of uses during the Middle Ages and was once believed to protect people from ill health, curses, demons, and lightning.
Today, it is one of the most used herbal medicines in the world and is a key herb to treat nervous exhaustion and depression. A meta-analysis review in 2015 concluded that the herb is as effective as standard antidepressant pharmaceuticals for treating depression, and has fewer adverse effects than other antidepressants.
The health benefits of St. John’s wort according to research
1. Immunity and Overall Health
St. John’s wort may be helpful in boosting immunity and promoting general health. Extracts of the herb have demonstrated antimicrobial activity and have been shown to have effects against HIV, influenza, herpes and hepatitis B and C. Hyperforin, a compound found in St. John’s wort has exhibited anticarcinogenic (anti-cancer) activity. Scientists believe that it has potential therapeutic value against leukemia, pancreatic cancer, and nasopharyngeal cancer (the most common type of throat cancer).
2. Sleep Support
St. John’s wort is used extensively in Europe for the treatment of insomnia, depression and anxiety and is gaining popularity in the US. Extracts of the herb are currently licensed in Germany and other countries to treat sleep disorders and other conditions. Research suggests that St. John’s wort may have therapeutical value for treating sleep deprivation-induced anxiety and oxidative damage. In some clinical trials, those who were taking St. John’s wort reported fewer sleep problems.
3. Stress & Mood Support
Clinical research since the 1970s have shown St. John’s wort to be effective in treating mild to moderate depression. Short-term response rates to St. John's wort range between 65% and 100% while long-term response rates range between 60% and 70%. A study conducted in 2009 further concluded it was helpful for treating severe depression. An overwhelming majority of evidence in primary care settings shows that St. John's wort is effective for most patients.
In numerous studies, St. John's wort was found to be as effective as some selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), antidepressants that include Prozac, Celexa and Zoloft. The herb helps improve mood, eases anxiety, and decreases insomnia related to mild to severe major depression. St. John’s wort does not appear to result in the loss of sex drive, which is one of the most common side effects of antidepressants.
Clinical guidelines from the American College of Physicians suggest that St. John's wort can be considered an option along with conventional antidepressants for short-term treatment of mild depression. Preliminary clinical research also found that a combination of St. John's wort and valerian improves symptoms of moderately severe anxiety and depression more effectively than some drugs.
4. Women’s Health
Most evidence on the effects of St. John's wort for treating premenstrual syndrome (PMS) suggests beneficial effects, such as reducing insomnia, mood swings, headache, fatigue, food cravings and swelling. One study reported a 50% reduction in the severity of symptoms associated with PMS.
In addition, research evidence suggests that St. John's wort may reduce symptoms such as hot flashes for women that have reached or are about to reach menopause. Taking St. John's wort alone seems to help improve sleep, quality of life, and psychological symptoms in menopausal women.
* These are some of the pharmacological actions that have been observed or are under study in various evidence-based research studies. Herb may have other properties not listed here.
The statements on this page are for educational purposes only and have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please consult your healthcare practitioner prior to the use of any herbal products, especially if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have allergies or medical conditions.
The information has been sourced and extracted from scientific papers, academic journals, research abstracts, and other sources. While Purify Tea makes every effort to present accurate and reliable information on this website, Purify Tea does not endorse, approve, or certify such information, nor does it guarantee the accuracy, completeness, efficiency, timeliness, or correct sequencing of such information. Use of such information is voluntary, and reliance on it should only be undertaken after an independent review of its accuracy, completeness, efficiency, and timeliness. While many traditional or folkloric remedies have a long history of use, modern research has only begun to investigate and substantiate their effectiveness. Research is still ongoing in many areas therefore conclusions are subject to change.
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