Depression can be crippling, preventing the sufferer from living a normal, happy life. Most anti-depressants used to treat this psychological problem come with a plethora of side effects. In such a scenario, it makes sense to turn towards nature to find a cure!
St. John’s Wort is one of the most popular herbs used in Europe and the USA. It is available over-the-counter primarily for treating depression and anxiety. Also known as Hypericum Perforatum, St. John’s Wort also has several health benefits. In fact, many cultures even use this herb to get rid of evil spirits acting on the body!
The extracts of St. John’s wort contain hypericin, which is the sole active compound. Another constituent, hyperforin, also works as an antidepressant. The herb also contains other components like flavonoids and tannins, which too posses several medicinal benefits.
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St. John’s Wort Benefits:
1. Heals Skin:
Skin injuries, burns, and skin irritations caused due to minor cuts can all be cured with the application of St. John’s Wort oil. Creams are also available to treat these problems, but oils work best to give relief. Unfortunately, the oil form of this herb is available only in some selected herbal stores. The antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of this herb work on the skin to offer some relief from these irritating skin conditions.
St. John’s wort was used by the ancient Greeks to treat a number of health disorders. Even today, it is used extensively to offer relief from:
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Research and studies in European countries have found that St. John’s wort works as a great herbal alternative to chemical laden anti-depressants. It can be used to treat mild to moderate depression. It has fewer side effects than many other antidepressants and that is what makes it so popular in countries like USA. But it is important to remember that if you are suffering from acute depression, it is always better to seek medical advise before self medicating.
Some studies have indicated that St. John’s wort can offer relief from anxiety. Research is still in nascent stage, though people already vouch for this herb’s anxiety curing abilities.
4. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD):
People suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD are often the ones dealing with anxiety. Often the butt of jokes, OCD sufferers rarely get their day out in the sun. St. John’s Wort does offer some relief from OCD symptoms but they are negligible.
5. Ear Pain:
Ear infections (otitis media) that cause ear pain can be cured with the use of St. John’s wort. One study involving 100 children proved that a combination of garlic, St. John’s wort, calendula and mullein can work as an effective herbal solution to provide relief from ear pain.
6. Smoking Cessation:
Smoking is a bad habit—almost everyone knows that. But quitting is another ball game altogether! One of the most promising uses of St. John’s wort is that it can be used to help one quit smoking. Studies are under way to give all those smokers looking to quit the habit a ray of hope.
7. Other Conditions:
St. John’s wort is also recommended for conditions with psychological symptoms such as menopausal symptoms, insomnia, premenstrual syndrome, attention deficit disorder and seasonal effective disorder.
A Word of Caution:
Though not as extensive as the side effects that come with the use of anti-depressants, St. John’s herb does cause some negative effects. These include:
- Skin allergy
- Stomach upset
- Sexual/erectile dysfunction
- Dry mouth
- Hair Fall
- Long term usage may cause over sweating and shakiness, fever, nausea, hallucinations, loss of muscle coordination, confusion etc are some of the side effects of St. John’s wort.
Never replace this St.John’s Wort with any OTC self medication. Always consult your doctor before you start using any alternative form of medicine, including St. John’s wort. Once you get an all clear from your doctor, you can go ahead and enjoy the various benefits this herb offers!
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Do you suffer from depression? Are you on anti-depressants? Do they cause side effects? Do share with us in the comments section below.
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