St. John’s Wort
With a history that touches upon the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, the use of St. John’s wort as an effective treatment for emotional, mental and topical issues has quite a past. The herb is so powerful, it was also believed to possess the ability to remove the “evil spirits” controlling the insane. Today, the herb is quite abundant throughout the world, decorating the meadows, pastures, and even the roadsides of Europe, Northern Africa, western Asia, and the United States.
What is St. John’s Wort?
St. John?s wort is a plant that can reach the height of three feet, displaying an attractive yellow flower with distinct, brief black markings. Characteristics associated with St. John’s wort include a bitter to sweet taste, as well as cooling and drying properties. Today, the herb is used as an astringent, analgesic, antidepressant, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and sedative.
Throughout history, the herb has been tied to ancient Greek and Roman medicinal use, and was used in various parts of early Europe as a treatment for madness. Over the years, the herb has made strides within the midwife community and among the ranks of soldiers, especially during the Civil War where journals revealed that mixing the herb with wine created an effective tonic for restoring the nervous system.
The herb also has ties with American Indians, as evidence suggests they introduced America to the herb for the treatment of breathing complications and tuberculosis .
The fresh or dried parts of St. John’s wort are used as an effective antidepressant and restorative remedy, and can be used to create powerful tinctures. It is the lovely flowering tops of the herb that is used to prepare infused oils and creams. The flowering tops of the herb are better harvested during high summer.
As a Dietary Supplement
When taking a St. John’s wort dietary supplement, the typical tablet or capsule contains about 300mg of the herb. This dosage should be taken three times per day for a total of 900mg on a daily basis. It is also said that the bedtime dose will help users achieve a good nights sleep. Younger children should receive no more than 300mg in one day, while older kids may take 600 mg per day. Teenagers can take a full adult dose of this natural supplement .
Along with St. John’s wort dietary supplements, there are treatments made from the creation of a tincture or infused oil. Tinctures are made by soaking herbs in vodka or rum to make a strong mixture. To create St. John’s wort infused oil, the flowers are steeped in cold-pressed safflower, walnut, or sunflower oil in the sun for a couple of weeks. An infusion simply means you will consume the herb like tea (by the cup or pot).
The standard dose for an infusion is taken 3-4 times per day totaling 500 ml. To create one dose of St. John’s wort infusion, you should place 1 teaspoon of dried herb or 2 teaspoons of fresh herb into a cup of water. To make a pot of tea, add 20 g (dried) or 30g (fresh) St. John’s wort into a warm pot; then add 500 ml of boiling water and replace the lid. Allow 10 minutes for the infusion to take place. Next, strain some of the infusion into a cup for your first dose. A pot of St. John’s wort infusion will make a full day’s dosage.
a) Emotional Problems:
St. John’s wort is known to have positive effects on the treatment of emotional disturbances, such as anxiety and depression. In Germany, most of their depression cases are treated with prescriptions using St. John’s wort. Some of the depression symptoms that the herb is known to treat, includes insomnia, mood swings, fatigue, and tremors . Infusions and dietary supplements can be used to alleviate emotional issues.
b) Colds and Infections:
When combined with elderflower, St. John’s wort infusions of 3-4 doses of 500 ml per day is known to ease symptoms. St. John’s wort natural supplements have also been known to work wonders.
c) PMS/Menopausal Symptoms:
St. John’s wort infusions of 3-4 doses of 500 ml per day have also been praised for the treatment of emotional imbalances contributed to menopause or premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
d) Joint Inflammation:
Infused oil can be used to treat muscle or joint inflammation, as well as the effects of tennis elbow, sciatica, and neuralgia. For joint inflammation, add a few drops of yarrow to the oil.
e) Localized Nerve Pain:
The cream made from the flowering tops of the herb has been known to ease the pain of sciatica, sprains, cramps, and breast engorgement during lactation.
For centuries, St. John’s wort has been used to treat a wide-range of wounds, including scrapes, skin sores, ulcers, burns, insect bites, cuts, bruises, and punctures. St. John’s wort infusions can be used to bathe these occurrences. The cream made from the flowering tops of the herb also work as an antiseptic. When adding a few drops of lavender oil to infused St. John’s wort oil, you can better treat burns.
g) Childhood Bedwetting:
To help rid a child of this embarrassing problem, try giving he or she 5-10 drops of St. John’s wort tincture at bedtime.
h) Viral Diseases:
Although more research is needed, the antiviral properties of St. John’s wort has shown promise in the treatment of herpes simplex, HIV/AIDS, as well as the Epstein-Barr virus (which is responsible for mononucleosis).
Before taking St. John’s wort dietary supplements or undergoing treatment, you should first contact your doctor, especially if you are taking prescription drugs. There are some products, such as blood pressure medication and Indinavir (an HIV medication) that produce known drug reactions with this herb .
After taking a natural St. John’s wort pill, the herb has been known to cause dermatitis after skin sun exposure. Users with fair skin should especially avoid sun exposure after taking this supplement. Very rare cases of nerve hypersensitivity and the development of cataracts have been connected to long-term or excessive use of St. John’s wort.
Possible Side Effects
A common side effect associated with St. John’s wort supplements is developing sensitivity to sun exposure. Less common complaints include constipation, upset stomach, fatigue, dry mouth, and dizziness, but can be avoided when taking the St. John’s wort dietary supplement with food .