St John’s wort


St John’s wort is also known as Hypericum perforatum. It can be used as an antidepressant and antianxiety herb but also has been used for wound healing and as an antiseptic ointment or oil.

Studies have confirmed its antidepressant activity in mild to moderate depression with similar effectiveness to the common pharmaceutical antidepressants.

In anxiety St John’s wort has been found to work in generalised anxiety disorder and to have an effect in one trial in patients with obsessive compulsive disorder.

It has also been shown in some studies to have a positive effect on the psychological symptoms of menopause and premenstrual syndrome

Studies have also confirmed that topical application of St John’s wort is useful for wound healing and skin infections.


Side effects in clinical trials show similar side effects to placebo and no serious side effects have been reported in any studies. Photosensitivity is a possibility in patients who are sun sensitive or with large doses. St John’s wort should be stopped one week prior to anaesthesia.

Interactions are possible with other herbs and certain medications so these should be checked with a health professional.

In pregnancy St John’s wort is classified as a category B1 drug due to limited use in women. There have been no problems in animal studies but the studies in humans have been limited. Clinical studies indicate that it is relatively safe during lactation. Overall St John’s wort should not be used in pregnancy and lactation without professional advice.

St John’s wort should not affect the ability to drive or use machinery.


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