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ST. JOHNS WORT
ST. JOHNS WORT
St. John's wort once was thought to rid the body of evil spirits, but more recently it has been used to treat problems such as depression, anxiety, and sleeplessness. When steeped in oil and applied to the skin, it helps heal wounds and burns. Research suggests it may also be useful in treating infections caused by viruses.
Here are some illnesses and conditions that St. John's wort has been used to treat:
St. John's wort is a shrubby plant with clusters of yellow flowers. The plant is often in full bloom around June 24, the day traditionally celebrated as the birthday of John the Baptist. Both the flowers and leaves are used as medicine.
What's It Made Of?
The best-studied active components are hypericin and pseudohypericin, found in both the leaves and flowers. There has been recent research to suggest that these best-studied components may not be the most active in the plant, with significant debate ensuing within the industry. It also includes other components such as essential oils and flavonoids.
You can buy St. John's wort in many forms: capsules, liquids, oil-based skin lotions, and teas. You can also buy chopped or powdered forms of the dried herb. Look for products that are standardized to contain 0.3% hypericin.
How to Take It
When taken by mouth for depression and other mood problems, the usual dose is 300 to 500 mg at 0.3 percent, three times a day, with meals, for a minimum of four to six weeks. You can also make a tea by steeping 1 to 2 tsp. of dried St. John's wort in a cup of boiling water for 10 minutes. Drink 1 to 2 cups a day for four to six weeks. But keep in mind that the dose you get when you make St. John's wort tea may not be as consistent as what you get in capsules or other products.
For treating wounds, burns or hemorrhoids, use an oil-based preparation of St. John's wort that you can rub onto your skin.
Side effects of St. John's wort are usually mild and may include:
Using St. John's wort with antiviral agents like indinavir and other protease inhibitors is not recommended. There is the possibility of an interaction between this herb and these medications that could undermine the effectiveness of the antiviral medications.
St. John's wort may interact with antidepressant medication that are used to treat depression or other mood disorders. Therefore, do not take this herb with any such medications.
You should not take St. John's wort if you are taking the heart medication digoxin because of the potentially dangerous interaction between this herb and this medication.
You should not take this herb with immunosuppressive medications like cyclosporin because it may reduce the effectiveness of these medications.
There have also been reports of bleeding in women taking St. John's wort with birth control medications. The interaction between St. John's wort and birth control medications may result in decreased effectiveness of these medications.
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