30 May How does St John’s Wort work?
It’s world-famous as a herbal remedy for anxiety and mild depression, but how does St John’s Wort herb actually work?
What is St John’s Wort?
St John’s Wort is a herbal remedy for anxiety that has been used for hundreds of years to treat mental health problems including depression, anxiety, sleep problems and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
St John’s Wort is a plant with striking yellow flowers. It goes by the botanical name ‘hypericum perforatum’ and grows naturally in many places around the world.
How does St John’s Wort work?
In a guest post for us, the Medical Herbalist Hannah Charman explains what it is in St John’s Wort that makes it ideal to help with anxiety and mild depression.
She says, “It contains the ingredients hypericin and hyperforin, which are known for their antidepressant properties. Research suggests that these ingredients help to increase the activity of brain chemicals such as serotonin and noradrenaline, both of which are thought to play an important part in regulating our mood.”
As an added bonus, hypericin and hyperforin are also associated with protecting us against bacteria and viruses.
St John’s Wort and serotonin
You may have heard serotonin referred to as the ‘feel-good’ hormone. Although an oversimplification, it is true that serotonin is responsible for stabilising our mood and contributing to feelings of happiness and anxiety.
When your serotonin levels are normal, you feel calm, focused and emotionally stable. Low levels of serotonin have been linked to depression.
St John’s Wort and noradrenaline
Noradrenaline (also known as Norepinephrine) is another hormone closely linked to mood. Low levels of this hormone can cause lack of energy, poor concentration and even depression.
You can boost your noradrenaline levels naturally through exercise, getting the right amount of sleep and meditating.
Eating dopamine-rich foods such as chocolate is also known to help.
A potential alternative to traditional antidepressants
For some people, antidepressants are the right option when it comes to treating mild depression. However, others experience unpleasant side effects, which can include nausea, weight gain, dizziness and loss of sexual desire.
HRI Good Mood™ contains the highest dose of St John’s Wort that you can buy in a licensed herbal medicine. It comes in easy to swallow tablet form and can be taken continually. Some people choose to take half a dose – just one tablet – regularly and then increase to the full dosage of two tablets per day when they feel they need it.
If you’ve had a bad experience with pharmaceutical depression medication for mild depression or anxiety, St John’s Wort could make a difference.
If you are worried that you may be depressed, you should always talk to your doctor.
Before deciding to take St John’s Wort always read the patient information leaflet, particularly if you use hormonal contraceptives as St John’s Wort can interfere with them.