AHypericum St John's Wort

AHypericum St John's Wort

Hypericum St John's Wort

Commonly called SJW, klamath weed, tipton weed, goat weed, and enola weed (Muenscher 1946), H. perforatum is a perennial flowering herb belonging to the Clusiaceae (Mangosteen family; alternatively, Hypericaceae and Guttiferae). The genus Hypericum consists of approximately 400 species of herbs and shrubs having yellow or coppery flowers with four to five petals, numerous stamens, and a single pistil (Gleason and Cronquist 1991).


Linde and Mulrow (1998) found that preparations containing H. perforatum extracts were significantly superior to placebo and as effective as standard antidepressants. Based on that evidence, the authors concluded that extracts of Hypericum are more effective than placebo for the short-term treatment of mild to moderately severe depressive disorders. However, they did not see sufficient evidence to establish whether SJW is as effective as other antidepressants.

second study, conducted by the Hypericum Depression Trial Study Group (2002), was a double-blind multicenter investigation aimed at determining whether SJW (LI-160) was useful in treating major depression. The study involved 340 adult outpatients at 12 academic and community psychiatric research clinics in the United States. Their study had the benefit of being three-armed, involving comparisons against a control group receiving a placebo, and a second receiving the SSRI sertraline. The proportion of patients showing full or partial response to SJW was 47.6%, which was actually lower than those receiving placebo (55.9%) and sertraline (61.1%). Perhaps most note-worthy was the finding that statistically, response rates did not differ significantly between placebo and either SJW or sertraline. The authors concluded that the findings failed to support any claims of efficacy of H. perforatum in treating moderately severe depression. They admitted that their results might have been due to the low assay sensitivity of the trial. However, the three-armed design of the test was significant, because without a placebo group one might conclude that SJW was as effective as an established synthetic antidepressant.

St John's wort is named as such because it commonly flowers, blossoms and is harvested at the time of the summer solstice in late June, around St John's Feast Day on 24 June. The herb would be hung on house and stall doors on St John's Feast day to ward off evil spirits and to safeguard against harm and sickness to people and live-stock. Alternatively, there may be a connection with the Knights Hospitaller. The genus name Hypericum is possibly derived from the Greek words hyper (above) and eikon (picture), in reference to the tradition of hanging plants over religious icons in the home during St John's Day. It was thought to have medical properties in classical antiquity and was a standard component of theriacs, from the Mithridate of Aulus Cornelius Celsus' De Medicina (ca. 30 CE) to the Venice treacle of d'Amsterdammer Apotheek in 1686. Folk usages included oily extract (St John's oil) and Hypericum snaps. Hypericum perforatum is a common species and is grown commercially for use in herbalism and traditional medicine. (Source: en.wikipedia.org)



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