St Johns Wort supplement
St Johns Wort (latin name Hypericum perforatum) has been used as a medicinal herb for hundreds of years and for a variety of conditions. It is native to Europe and is a shrub like perennial plant that produces yellow leaves from late spring to early autumn. St Johns Wort is available as a dietary supplement in a number of forms such as tablets, capsules and tinctures as well as in cream form.
Today St Johns Wort is most well known for its use in treating mild depression but it has also used for a number of different treatments. The lack of mental side effects compared to some other prescribed anti-depressants is what makes St Johns Wort so popular with many people who take it. Some other prescribed anti-depressants are sometimes reported to make the user feel 'zombie like'. St Johns Wort is believed by many to let them live a normal, clear headed life without depression.
Although it can be used to treat mild depression studies by Americas National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine have shown St Johns Wort to be ineffective for treatment of major depression of moderate severity.
St Johns Wort has been used in the treatment of bruises, rheumatic pain and as an anti-inflammatory It is also used as a relaxant helping combat panic attacks, tension, insomnia / sleep disorders and anxiety. In women, St Johns Wort has been used for helping treat premenstrual tension / stress.
How does St Johns Wort work?
There are a number of compounds in St Johns Wort that are thought to have potential for giving the medicinal benefits associated with the plant and the most well known of these being Hypericin and Hyperofin. It is believed that the effective compounds help lift our mood as they prevent the reuptake of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine. With increased levels of serotonin we feel happier.
When you start taking St Johns Wort the effects may be noticeable from anything past 2 weeks. It may however be longer than this before you feel any benefits as it takes time for the levels to build up in your blood. You should give it at least 4 weeks to see whether you are benefiting from using St Johns Wort.
St Johns Wort side effects
St Johns Wort is known to have an influence on the metabolism of many other prescription drugs and so before starting to take a St Johns Wort supplement you should consult your doctor or health professional.
If you are currently on prescription anti-depressants you must consult your doctor if you are thinking about treating the depression with St Johns Wort rather than your current anti-depressant. Do not stop taking your prescribed anti-depressants before consulting your doctor.
If combined with other prescription anti-depressants St Johns Wort can be known to increase the levels of side effects such as headaches, nausea and confusion.
St Johns Wort can also have a sedating effect on some people in which case it should be taken before bed-time. Taking high levels of St Johns Wort can also affect how sensitive a person’s skin is to the sun. Taking St Johns Wort can also change the effectiveness of the female contraceptive pill.
If you experience stomach irritation when taking St Johns Wort you can try taking it at mealtimes to reduce the irritation experienced.