- What healing power is in St. John's wort?
- How is St. John's wort used?
- What side effects can St. John's wort cause?
- What you should consider when using St. John's wort
- How to get St. John's wort and its products
- Worth knowing about St. John's wort
True St. John's wort has been used for centuries for wounds and burns. Today, one particularly appreciates the mood-enhancing effect of St. John's Wort: Depression of mild to moderate severity can be alleviated with the help of the medicinal plant. Read more about St. John's wort: effect, application and possible side effects!
St. John's Wort
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What healing power is in St. John's wort?
The St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum) has a mild antidepressant effect. Its use in mild to moderate depressive episodes is therefore medically recognized. However, St. John's wort must be taken in high doses, so that it can work, so in the form of appropriately dosed finished medicinal products.
Based on many years of experience, the medicinal plant can also be used internally for temporary mental fatigue and mild gastrointestinal complaints as well as externally (for example in the form of St. John's Wort oil) in case of mild skin inflammation (such as sunburn) and light wounds.
The antidepressant effect of the medicinal plant is mainly attributed to the hyperforin ingredient. Other ingredients (such as hyperoside, etc.) may contribute to this effect, but this needs to be further explored.
Oily preparations of St. John's wort (such as St. John's wort oil) have an anti-inflammatory effect.
How is St. John's wort used?
The medicinal plant is available in various forms - as a cut herb for tea preparation, as a dry extract in St. John's wort capsules, pills, tablets, droplets, as an alcoholic extract (in the form of drops, etc.), as fresh plant juice and as St. John's wort -Oil. The latter is called red oil because of its color.
For the preparation of St. John's wort preparations, the dried flowering branch tips with flowers, leaves and stems (Hyperici herba) are used. Especially for use as a herbal antidepressant, standardized finished medicinal products should be used. The dosage, method and duration of use can be found in the respective package leaflets and by the doctor or pharmacist.
The use of a self-produced St. John's Wort tea is not recommended.
You can also make St. John's wort oil for external use by adding freshly flowered blossoms to a light screw-top jar and filling with a cold pressed olive oil of good quality until the flowers are about a fingerbreit covered with it. Then screw the glass and place it in a light or sunny place for four to five weeks. In between you should shake the glass every now and then. At the end, peel off the flowers and pour the oil into a dark bottle for storage. During use, you can moisten your palm with it and rub it on the affected skin area.
What side effects can St. John's wort cause?
Like chemical antidepressants, St. John's Wort can cause side effects, but less frequently. Nevertheless, there are serious warnings that you should consider before taking:
The medicinal plant can cause increased sensitivity to sunlight (photosensitizing effect). Therefore, especially fair-skinned people should do without the use of St. John's wort oil or avoid the sun.
In addition, side effects such as allergic skin reactions, tiredness, restlessness and gastrointestinal complaints have been described for St. John's wort (although rare).
What you should consider when using St. John's wort
Some high-dose St. John's wort supplements are prescription, many other preparations, however, you get without a doctor's prescription. Especially with the self-medication but caution is due to the possible side effects and especially interactions of St. John's wort.
People with mild to moderate depression should discuss with a doctor before administering St. John's Wort dosage and duration of use. The sole use of St. John's Wort (without chemical antidepressants) may be a first therapy in depressive episodes, but only under medical supervision and education about the nature and duration of use. For inadequate treatment, among other things, severe depression can develop.
For severe or chronic depression no positive effects of St. John's wort are described. A treatment only with the medicinal plant alone is therefore very dangerous in such cases because of increased risk of suicide.
Also for other areas of application: Please inform yourself about the respective package leaflet of the preparation and discuss with your doctor or pharmacist prior to receipt. The St. John's wort oil application should be explained.
Note possible interactions with other drugs.For example, the effect of the following remedies decreases when used with St. John's wort:
- Pill and other hormonal contraceptives
- Cumarin-type blood thinners
- Remedy for asthma
- Agent for cardiac arrhythmias
- Remedy for increased blood lipid levels (lipid lowering)
- Heart medicines from the group of digitalis preparations
If you are taking such medications, you should tell your doctor or pharmacist. He can then tell you whether you can still use St. John's wort.
Under no circumstances may the medicinal plant be used if you receive the following medicines:
- the immune system suppressing substances (immunosuppressants like cyclosporine)
- Anticancer drugs from the group of cytostatics
- certain HIV / AIDS medicines
Pregnant women, nursing women and children under the age of 12 years may not use St. John's wort and its preparations for safety reasons. In adolescents, use is recommended only on the advice of a physician.
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Thimble and oleander and poinsettia - these plants enrich our gardens and living rooms. As beautiful as these plants are, they are as dangerous as they are. Best example: the lily of the valley. The entire plant is poisonous, but especially flowers, berries and leaves. It contains cardioactive substances as well as saponins which have a blood-dissolving effect.
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Originally the poinsettia comes from Mexico. At Christmas time the Advent star is a popular ornamental plant. The whole plant is poisonous, but especially the whitish milk juice. He steps out if you hurt the plant. Main active ingredients are beta-amyrin and germanicol.
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The water hemlock is native to Europe, North Asia and North America. In Germany it is mainly distributed in the north. It prefers to grow at pond edges, in ditches and swamps. All plant parts of the water hemlock are poisonous, but especially the juice of the rootstock. The toxic substance is cicutoxin, a so-called spasm venom.
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The laburnum has its home in south and southeastern Europe. Because of its golden yellow flowers, the butterfly is popular in Central Europe as an ornamental shrub in gardens and parks. Above all flowers, fruits and seeds are poisonous. For infants, as many as three to four fruits or 15 to 20 seeds can cause death. Main active ingredients are so-called alkaloids, which act on the central nervous system.
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The oleander belongs to the Hundsgiftgewächsen and can be up to five meters high as a tree or shrub. The leaves are elongated and pointed, leathery and evergreen. From July to October, the oleander produces white, red or pink flowers. The entire plant is poisonous. Main active ingredients are compounds that act on the heart and circulation (so-called glycosides).
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Mistletoe is common in both Europe and North Asia. As a so-called semi-parasitic it grows on deciduous and coniferous trees and removes water and nutrient salts from its host plants. In addition to the stems are also poisonous leaves and berries. Main active ingredients are the so-called viscotoxins, which are toxic protein mixtures.
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The Herbstzeitlose is common in southern, western and central Europe and grows mainly on wet meadows and in gardens. It appears in the spring. All parts of the Herbstzeitlose are poisonous, above all however tuber and seeds. The main active ingredient is colchicine, which acts as a cytotoxin. Five grams are enough to kill an adult. Children are already between 1.2 and 1.5 grams life-threatening.
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The Red Foxglove is common in western and central Europe in the mountains. He is also found in forest clearings and as an ornamental plant in gardens. All plant parts are poisonous, but especially the leaves, flowers and seeds. Main active ingredients are various substances that affect the heart (eg digitoxin). Already 0.3 grams of dried leaves are toxic to an adult.
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The angel trumpet is originally from Brazil. Because of its large, beautiful flowers, it is now a popular container plant. All plant parts are poisonous. Main active ingredients are scopolamine, hyoscyanine and atropine, which have a debilitating and intoxicating effect.
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Blue iron hat
The blue monkshood grows preferentially in damp locations in the mountains, on river banks or as ornamental plant in gardens. All plant parts of the Blue Eisenhut are poisonous, but especially the root. Main active ingredients are alkaloids, which can have different effects on the organism. Even small amounts from 0.2 grams are poisonous.
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The unicorn occurs in Europe and Asia Minor. They are found mainly in riparian forests and moist deciduous forests. The entire plant is poisonous, but especially the berries. Main active ingredients are saponins, which are believed to protect against insects or fungi.In higher concentrations saponins have a hemolytic effect, that is, they can destroy red blood cells. In larger quantities, they also damage the kidneys and the central nervous system.
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The yew is widespread. In our latitudes, it grows mainly in shady forests. It is also commonly found as an ornamental shrub in gardens, cemeteries and parks. Both needles and seeds are poisonous, especially if you bite them. The red, sweet-tasting seed coat, on the other hand, is non-toxic. Main active ingredients are alkaloids. They have a strong pharmacological effect.
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The original home of Dieffenbachie is the tropical America. Because of its beautifully drawn leaves and because she does not need much sun, the Dieffenbachie is a popular houseplant. The entire plant is poisonous, but especially the trunk. All organs contain so-called calcium oxalate needles. These have channels through which oxalic acid and other toxins can penetrate into open wounds. Three to four grams of leaves are considered deadly, and also runoff water should be toxic.
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The Giant Bear Claw originally came from the Caucasus and reached our latitude as an ornamental plant. Nowadays, the plants are often found as wild specimens in Waldschneisen and on forest roads and roadsides. The whole plant is poisonous, but especially the juice. This contains phototoxic and skin damaging substances. Main active ingredients are so-called 6,7-furocoumarins. Under the influence of sunlight (UVA and UVB radiation) the phytochemicals are activated. In the morning, the phototoxic effect is stronger than in the evening.
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The home of the Amaryllis is originally in the Andes of Peru. Nowadays, the Ritterstern is a popular houseplant, which is mainly bought in the months of January to April, as it then blooms. Especially the onion of amaryllis is poisonous. It contains special alkaloids that are cytotoxic and are considered very toxic.
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The home of cyclamen is actually in the Middle East and Asia Minor. Meanwhile, the Primelgewächs in many living rooms and is one of the most popular houseplants. Especially the tuber is poisonous, it contains so-called saponins. These are secondary plant compounds that usually taste bitter and can affect the metabolism. Already 0.2 grams of tuber are considered toxic, eight grams as a lethal dose.
How to get St. John's wort and its products
In your pharmacy you will find various preparations with St. John's Wort: tablets, capsules, dragees, liquid preparations, the essential oil of St. John's wort (red oil), juice and St. John's wort tea. Also combined preparations (such as valerian, passionflower) are available. Prior to use, read the package leaflet and the doctor or pharmacist for instructions on how to use the product correctly, what side effects St. John's wort may cause for this preparation and dosage, and what interactions are possible (for example St. John's wort and pill).
Care should be taken with St. John's wort preparations sold in drugstores. They are often very low in dose and / or contain St. John's wort from China, the effectiveness of which has not been proven medically.
Worth knowing about St. John's wort
St. John's wort (or St. John's wort, Hypericum perforatum) belongs to the family of St. John's wort plants (Hypericaceae). It is native to Europe, West Asia, the Canary Islands and North Africa and naturalized in many other regions.
The genus name is derived from the Greek ("hyper" and "ereikon" = growing on the heath) and probably describes the preferred locations of up to about 80 centimeters high St. John's wort plant - dry soils on heaths and dry grasslands, on embankments, trail and roadsides.
The plant received the Latin name "perforatum" and the German name "Spotted St. John's wort" because of its dotted (Latin: perforatum = pierced) leaves: If one - in pairs on the branches opposite (ie oppositely arranged) - elliptic, smooth-edged leaves holding against the light, you see bright spots on the leaf surface. These are oil glands that contain essential oil. The summer solstice also plays a role in the German naming because the plant starts to bloom around the so-called Johanni day on June 24th.
From June until late summer, the true St. John's wort bears a lot of yellow flowers in racemose globules at the end of the hard, branched stems. Striking are the many long stamens that protrude from the flowers. The petals are like the leaves glandular dotted: Due to the contained dark red hypericin the oil glands appear as black dots on the petals. If you rub the flowers of the real St. John's Wort between the fingers, they turn red.