St. John's wort
(Wort the sedge)
Hypericum perforatum, or St John's Wort, blooms in the midsummer so it has always been considered by tradition to be a magic flower.
It is known for over 2500 years for its healing properties to the Greeks, Egyptians, Indians, Arabs, Persians.
It was one of the key ingredients in the mixture of embalming the dead,
and it was the remedy of the ancient Spartans, that used it to care for their wounds after the battle.
In India, it was believed that whoever holds the hypericum, discovers treasures, because it pulls like a magnet the gold that lies beneath the earth.
Hippocrates, Galinos, Dioscorides, and Plinius suggested hypericum as a plant with analgesic, diuretic and healing properties. It is also said to facilitate the female menstruation, help against diarrhea, fever, burns, stomach ulcers and sciatica pain.
In addition to all of the above, Paracelsus and Aetios recommend hypericum for the treatment of melancholy, depression mood disorders.
In the Cyclades, Crete, and Epirus, there was no house that did not have a bottle “valsamolado” (the homemade preparation of hypericum oil) to treat burns, sores, and muscle aches. Homemade valsamolado is prepared by dipping the flowers in virgin olive oil and leaving them in the sun for about 40 days, or "1000 hours," as tradition in Sicily has it.
In Europe and the Balkans, during the Middle Ages, hypericum was used against the evil eye and it was believed that its presence would scare away demons and evil spirits.
On the night of June 24, at the fires of St. John, people burned the flowers of hypericum that were hanging in the house all year long and with them, they believed that evil was burned as well.
Known in Europe as "grass of St. John" (St John's Wort), since the dark spots on the petals symbolize the blood st. John the Baptist, and the crystal petals symbolize his tears. According to others it is the herb of Jesus as it first grew below his feet while he was cruccified.
Hypericum has been used as a raw material for the production of yellow and red dye for wool and silk.
• It has well a documented antidepressant action.
Based on a recent study conducted by a major German pharmaceutical company and published in the "British Medical Journal", it has been proven at least as effective as paroxetine, a commonly prescribed medication for depression.
Every year in Germany, hypericum is prescribed for over 20 million cases of mild to moderate depression, especially in children and adolescents.
In the US it is often referred as, after an "alternative to Prozak.
29 clinical trials conducted by the Foundation "Cochrane Collaboration", with over 5,000 participants, found that St. John's wort has similar efficacy to pharmaceutical antidepressants and far fewer side effects.
Today in the US there are grown more than 500,000 acres of hypericum for use in the pharmaceutical industry.
• The St. John's wort is of particular scientific interest because it contains three unique herbal substances, hypericin, pseudohypericin, and hyperforin.
These substances, particularly hyperforin, act as antibiotics, antiseptics, bactericides and anti-inflammatories, Recent investigations have shown that are inhibitory to the growth of cancerous tumors.
• Hyperforin, found in Hypericum Perforatum, is believed to have antidepressant properties.
Researchers believe that the herb’s mechanism of action is based on the inhibition of the reuptake of certain neurotransmitters (serotonin, adrenaline, and noradrenaline).
It also contains flavonoids and bioflavonoids in its leaves, phenolic acids, xanthines, naphthodianthrones, phloroglucinol and essential oils.
• In the context of studies on its antidepressant activity, the herb appears to reduce the need for alcohol consumption, possibly reducing depressive symptoms that lead to alcohol as a form of self-medication.
• The wort taken as an infusion for long periods with short breaks can effectively help in treating mild depression, without causing addiction and drowsiness and without affecting the libido.
It is also used as an anticonvulsant and improver of the quality of sleep in insomnia.
• Patients with AIDS following experimental treatment based on St. John's wort, said that they felt more optimistic, more energetic and less tired.
• In addition to antidepressant action, it has potent anti-inflammatory properties, as an inhibitor of 5-lipoxygenase and thus, external (as valsamolado) is used as a sealant for wounds, first degree burns, stings, abrasions to the herpes simplex treatment, and hemostat.
Valsamolado can be used externally or taken orally as it is recommended for colitis, indigestion, heartburn and sour stomach and strengthen the immune system. It is ideal for relaxing or healing massage which can be enriched with essential oils.
• Hypericum infusion tea is a very helpful and natural treatment against the physical and emotional symptoms of premenstrual syndrome and for women in menopause. It reduces sweats, irritability, treats insomnia, soothes nervousness and can eliminate depression.
Consult your doctor if you are taking contraceptives, you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or if you under chemotherapy.
There should be no systematic use pestle people who antidepressant medications, while rare, can cause photosensitivity which can result in sensitivity to light and sunburn.
Hypericum should not be used by people suffering from schizophrenia, mania or bipolar disorder (manic depression).
Hypericum is recognized by EOF (the Greek FDA) as a product of plant origin, included it in food supplements, indicating light malaise, nervous tension and depression. It should not be taked together
with antiretrovirals, anticoagulants, contraceptives and immunosuppressive drugs.