Hypericum perfoliatum. That's its' full legal name. Its' Latin original. Y Fendigedig is its' welsh name that only my daughter can pronounce. See this is the thing about botanicals - they all have more than two names so you first have to clarify what you are speaking of. Poor St. John the baptist once had a wort. It was most likely cured by this wee plant, as it is verified by modern science as an antiviral. This small little flower grows a good two feet high on shady hillsides in the Okanagan. A weed - takes over sunny fields in England. Funny, most stubborn weeds are medicinal. Think Dandelions. This St. Johns wort is wonderfully stubborn and strongly medicinal. Little yellow flowers, with oval little leaves that when held up to the sun, have tiny see through spots. It is one of the most prescribed botanicals in my clinic. I call it Nerve Food.
It has been made famous by lots of mainstream scientific studies "discovering" what botanical medical docs have known for centuries. It is an effective anti-depressant, working on the brain just like some pharmaceutical anti-depressants, called S.S.R.I's: Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors. There is one major reason why it is better. It is balanced! It has a list of active ingredients that balance the effects on the body (like all plants), to make it a lovely anti-anxiety remedy as well. Now S.S.R.I.'s in some can also calm anxieties in a weird way, but I am just getting started on the reasons why St. Johns Wort is so darn lovely. Working moms, listen up - Nerve Food! It is calming without putting you to sleep. It is stabilizing to the dull moods without being too stimulating. Some of the active ingredients are minerals and vitamins that act as the delicious nerve food I keep mentioning. To be fair, there are situations in which you just need drugs, as they have a focused strength that the brain sometimes needs. I have counselled many to stay on drugs. I have also guided many off drugs. And here I have gracefully side stepped back to why I love St. Johns wort. It is a milder and more balanced antidepressant. It also works miracles when you are ready to quit an S.S.R.I. comfortably. It can get uncomfortable. Seek professional guidance please.
Now on to the bad rap. Because it has been a popular one to study (who knows why), "they" have found that it uses the p450 detox pathway in the liver. This means it uses the same highway out of the body as a huge list of commonly used pharmaceuticals. Because of this, there are many assumed interactions. We do know that taking too much St. Johns wort with drugs that encourage serotonin, like those S.S.R.I.'s, can lead to "Serotonin Syndrome", which can feel shivery twitchy awful until the excess hits the highway, which can be all day. No lasting damage if the drug dosages are decreased. Nice to avoid!
Clinically, in my practice, with real humans, St. Johns wort can be a life saving mood balancer, even with some drugs on board. See above to understand why you want to do this with supervision from an N.D. or botanical medical doc. Pharmacists and M.D.'s are wonderful. Heck some of my best acquaintances are Pharmacists and M.D.'s. Most do not have the education to work with plants. This means many patients are told to just stop taking the capsules with plants in them. Maybe they don't know, they are just being safe. That unknown plant power could be dangerous. Scary. This is usually where I say, that's okay. Just ask. Find out. Have a conversation about it. But please don't rip a patients Nerve Food away without checking to make sure they can function without it.
How can you stand it! How do you take it?? This sunshine on shady hillsides makes a wonderful tea. Make your own by picking it when in flower, dry it in the shade, and use the dried leaves and flowers just like you would regular tea leaves. Or buy it in bags like I do, 'cause I don't have the time. The tea form is a mild mood balancer perfect for a work day. The capsules (brands vary a lot! Email for details) are more sedating, stronger. Lovely in the evening for a nice sleep. Needed in the mornings with coffee for single working moms. The oil is often an ingredient in wonderful creams and oils you would find at the health food store for topical healing of all sorts - fabulous in ear drops for infections because of it's antiviral properties, and nerve pain. Of course. Since it's Nerve Food.
And here's another reason why I love Y Fendigedig. It is a whiz at curing nerve pain when used homeopathically! Like, awesome. Shingles is a classic and horrible nerve pain that responds well to this. Pinched necks, that sharp shooting yeeeooowwwwch....works for that. This you would get from your N.D. or a health food store, or a Homeopath. If you know Katharina, the only homeopath in the valley, call her. Hypericum 30ch, or 200ch it would be called, or Hypericum 1M is even better. These homeopathics are diluted and potentized plants that come in little white pills. I call then the little white pills. "Did you take the little white pills I gave you?" (Dedicated blog post on what the heck a homeopathic is, to come. When I gather the courage.)
I hope this has given you courage, and some working knowledge. Below please find study links pertaining to the above.
"St. John's Wort for Major Depression." - a Cochrane Review (2008)
"Pharmacokinetic interactions of drugs with St John's wort." (2004)
"Biosynthesis of titanium dioxide nanoparticles using Hypericum perforatum and Origanum vulgare extracts and their main components, hypericin and carvacrol as promising antibacterial agents." (2022)
"Hypericum lanceolatum Lam. Medicinal Plant: Potential Toxicity and Therapeutic Effects Based on a Zebrafish Model." (2022)