St. Johns Wort is one of the ancient herbal medicines that have been used by the early Greeks. It is used for a range of illnesses, including nervous disorders. It is also used for wounds and burns because of its anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties. Today, extensive studies have been conducted for its efficacy in treating depression. On the other hand, numerous women have started to use St. John’s Wort products for relief of menopausal symptoms.
What is St. Johns Wort
St. John’s Wort, Hypericum perforatum, is a shrubby plant native to Europe, Asia, Africa and Western America. It bears a cluster of yellow flowers and oval, elongated leaves. Both of its flowers and leaves are used for medicinal use. The plant’s name is derived from the time when its flowers blossom, which is June 24. This is also the traditional day of celebration of St. John the Baptist’s birth. St. Johns wort products are available as tinctures, teas, capsules, tablets, and skin lotions. Chopped leaves or powders of dried herb are also available.
St. John’s Wort for Menopause
Aside from its proven effect for mild to moderate depression, which is also sometimes accompanied in menopausal stage, St. John’s Wort could also lessen the frequency of hot flashes, night sweating, mood swings and anxiety.
How St. John’s Wort Works
The leaves and flowers of St. John Wort have been shown to have the active ingredients hypericin and pseudohypericin. These substances are said to be the ones responsible for their medicinal effects, such as for depression. For mood stabilization, St. Johns Wort increases relaxation and decreases anxiety or depression. And compared to synthetic drugs, the plant produces no side effects of decreased sexual drive.
Other Uses of St. Johns Wort
St. Johns Wort is also used to reduce PMS or premenstrual syndrome like food cravings, cramps, irritability and breast tenderness. It is also used topically for eczema, wounds, burns, and hemorrhoids because of its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. The plant is also used for mood disorders like SAD (seasonal affective disorder) and phototherapy to uplift patients’ moods during the winter season. It is also used to improve cases of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and social phobia.
Precautions in taking St. John’s Wort
St. John’s Wort should not be taken by pregnant, planning to be pregnant and breastfeeding women. It may also worsen individuals with ADD and ADHD, especially if they are taking medications. It may also interact with medications used in surgery; therefore, be sure not to take any products with St. John’s Wort 5 days or more before surgery. Do not forget to advise your surgeon if you are taking products with St. Johns Wort before undergoing surgical procedures.
St. John’s Wort may also bring some mild side effects such as stomach upset, headache, dry mouth, hives or other skin rashes, fatigue, restlessness, and dizziness or confusion.
If you are taking any medications, be sure first to consult your doctor if it’s safe for you to use St. Johns Wort products before consuming any.
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