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St. John's Wort Standardized Extract

St. John's Wort Standardized Extract

COMMON NAME
St. John's Wort, Goatweed Hypericum, Klamath weed

LATIN NAME
Hypericum perforatum

ORIGIN
Worldwide

PART OF PLANT USED
Aerial parts

DESCRIPTION
St. John's wort is a perennial with regular flowers which bloom from June until September. The plant was believed, from the time of the ancient Greeks until the Middle Ages, to ward off witchcraft and evil spirits and to drive out devils. Considered a noxious weed by farmers due to its photosensitizing effect on livestock, St. John's wort has nevertheless been used by humans for centuries for a wide variety of ailments, including nervous disorders, depression, neuralgia, wounds and burns, kidney problems, and for its anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory actions. Recently a great deal of attention has been placed on the herb because of its two main active ingredients, hypericin and pseudohypericin, which have been shown to inhibit the AIDS virus.

HISTORICAL USES
Depression, psychological illness, mania, fear, nervous disorders, hysteria
Sedative
Wound and burn healing (external)
Anti-bacterial
Anti-viral, AIDS
Bed-wetting, childhood nightmares
Gastritis, gastric ulcers, inflammatory bowel disorders
Inflammation
Myalgias (external)
Neuralgia, sciatica (external)
Kidney, genito-urinary troubles
Diuretic
Menstrual cramps

ACTIVE PROPERTIES
St. John's wort has been used for centuries to calm the nerves and treat depression. A vivid red oil made from macerating the flowers in vegetable oil has been used to dress wounds, heal deep cuts, soothe burns and ease the pain of neuralgias. Taken internally, the oil has been used for ulcers and gastritis. An infusion of the herb has also been used as an expectorant for bronchitis and as a diuretic for the kidneys and as an easing agent for menstrual cramps.

ACTIVE SUBSTANCES
Glycosides (hypericin, pseudohypericin), flavonoids, tannins

PHARMACOLOGY
St. John's wort contains a variety of active ingredients including dianthrone derivatives (hypericin and pseudohypericin), flavonoids and tannins (hyperoside, quercetin, rutin, catechin), xanthrones, monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes, and phytosterols (beta-sitosterol). Xanthrones and hypericin have been shown to have monoamine-oxidase (MAO)-inhibiting activity. A standard treatment for depression uses MAO inhibitors to retard the breakdown of neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine and serotonin and thus increase their concentration in the central nervous system. A clinical trial involving standardized hypericin extract showed improvement in depressive symptoms, including anxiety, apathy, insomnia, depression, and feelings of worthlessness. The flavonoids and possibly other agents have wound healing and anti-inflammatory activities. Most current research has focused on the antiviral activity of the anthroquinones, hypericin and pseudohypericin. Hypericin is a photodynamic red pigment whose anti-viral activity is substantially enhanced by exposure to light. The mechanism is thought to involve the production of oxygen free-redicals which can damage the viral envelope. Non-enveloped viruses such as polio or adenovirus are unaffected by hypericin. The human studies involved taking high doses of hypericin (10 mg) extracted from St. John's wort.

TOXICITY, CAUTIONS & CONTRA-INDICATIONS
Consumption of hypericin may render the skin photosensitive. Care should be taken during exposure to sunlight. Avoid excessive exposure to sunlight, tanning lights or UV sources.

DIRECTIONS FOR USE
250 mg. extract/day

BIO-ENHANCING AGENTS
Beta-carotene, vitamin C

PROCESSING
The aerial portions of St. John's wort are harvested, dried away from sunlight and extracted with ethanol and water.

STANDARD
0.5% Hypericin

ANALYSIS STANDARDIZED EXTRACT

ProductSt. John's wort
TypeStandardized extract
Standardization53-58 mg /100 g Hypericine
Characterdark brown-red fine powder
Loss on dryingmax. 5.0
Solubilitycloudy water soluble
Heavy Metals< 62 ppm



SCIENTIFIC REFERENCES

Gerhardt, J.J. and Fowkes, S.W. (1991) Hypericin. J. Theor. and Applied Health Techn. 6(6), #31:1.

Hobbs, C. (1989) St. John's wort. A reveiew. HerbalGram 18/19:24.

Lopez-Bazzocchi, I. et al. (1991) Antiviral activity of the photoactive plant pigment hypericin. Photochem. and Photobiol. 54(1):95.

Meruelo, D. et al. (1988) Therapeutic agents with dramatic anti-retroviral activity and little toxicity at effective doses: Aromatic polycyclic diones hypericin and pseudohypericin. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci.(USA) 85:5230

Muldner, Von H. and Zoller, M. (1984) Antidepressive activity of an hypericin standardized extract of Hypericum. Arzneim. Forschh./Drug. Res. 34:918.

Schinazi, R.F. et al. (1990) Anthaquinones as a new class of antiviral agents against human immunodeficiency virus. Antivial Res. 13:265.

Suzuki, O. et al. (1984) Inhibition of monoamine oxidase by hypericin. Planta medica 50:272.

Weiner, M. (1990) Weiner's Herbal. Mill Valley: Quantum Books.

 


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