St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum)

St. John's Wort ( Hypericum perforatum )
St. John’s Wort ( Hypericum perforatum )

Common names: St. John’s Wort, St. Joan’s Wort

Taxonomic name: Hypericum perforatum

Family: Hypericaceae

Uses: nervous conditions, depression, nerve pain

Area of origin: Eurasia

Warnings: Take care if you are on psychiatric medicines, St. John’s Wort can interfere with some of these. See your doctor first. Can cause allergic reactions, gastro-intestinal problems and sensitivity to UV light.

Hypericum flowers
St. John’s Wort flowers catching the sun

St. John’s Wort has has a reputation for being able to lift moods for centuries, before we knew of mental illness.

In medieval times it was used to help strengthen the spirit, thus making the individual less prone to the effects of others, especially witches and demons.

We know now about the role of chemicals in the body and material medicine has focused on a single component of Hypericum, hypericin that has a repeatable effect on aspects of our chemistry, lifting moods and raising spirits. More recent research points to hyperflorin as being an effective component.

A note here, if you plan to use Hypericum in any way while being treated for anxiety, depression or other associated maladies, check with your treating doctor, as it interferes with the action of some medications, specifically those in the group SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors).

I believe external use as an oil or ointment for injuries is safe and won’t interfere with brain chemistry.

So, the mental and resulting physical picture we’re beginning to see is one of bring effective on many aspects of our nervous system. This is how Herbalists use it. Not a silver bullet for anxiety and depression, but a soother and tonic for the nervous system, helping mood and outlook by aiding damaged and ailing nerves.

It soothes overworking and overstimulated nerves, whether from physical or mental injury. Many cases of depression and the like come from a nervous system that has been overstimulated for too long.

Into our developing picture we can fit such wide ranging things as a hammered finger tip (Hypericum is a homoepathic remedy par excellence for this!), stubbed toe, any irritated surface injury, incontinence due to stress (even bed wetting in children) and diarrhoea when it’s due to nervous conditions. Others that fit the picture are shooting pain, nerve pain, cramp and spasms of nervous origin, even some forms of paralysis.

You may be able to see the pattern by now – St John’s Wort helps anywhere there is trouble with the nerves, whether external, internal or even spiritual…

A dish of bright yellow Hypericum flowers
A dish of bright yellow Hypericum flowers
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