Contraindications And Precautions

Vi) People with fair skin undergoing UV treatment should use high doses of SJW with caution. Suspend use of SJW 2 weeks prior to major surgery.


A study conducted in an experimental animal model found no adverse effects on offspring with maternal use; however, safe doses in pregnant women have not been determined. In practice, it is not used in pregnancy.

St John's appears to be relatively safe in lactation. A study of breast feeding mothers indicated that low levels of hyperforin are excreted into breast milk; however, infant exposure is comparable to levels reported in most studies assessing antidepressants or neuroleptics and no side-effects were seen in the mothers or infants (Klier et al 2006). The doses used were 300 mg of SJW (LI 160, three times daily).


• St John's wort contains numerous constituents with pharmacological activity, including antidepressant, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, anxiolytic, antineoplastic, antiviral and bactericidal activities.

• Numerous clinical studies support the use of SJW as an effective treatment for mild to moderate depression. The most commonly studied extract is LI 160 although others have also been tested (e.g. WS 5573 (standardised to hyperforin), ZE 117 (a low concentration hyperforin preparation), WS 550 and STW3-V1). Clinical effects are comparable to tricyclic antidepressants and SSRIs.

• In regards to safety, SJW is better tolerated than standard antidepressants; however, it still needs to be prescribed judiciously to avoid interactions.

• Low-hyperforin-containing SJW extracts do not have the same interaction potential as standard SJW extracts and may present a safer option for some individuals.

• Efficacy in severe depression has not been established, with mixed results reported so far.

• Preliminary human studies have suggested a possible role in PMS, SAD, OCD and in menopausal and premenopausal women with psychological and psychosomatic symptoms.

• Oily preparations have been used to treat burns, acute and contused injuries, atopic dermatitis and myalgia.


What will this herb do for me?

St John's wort is an effective treatment for mild to moderate depression. It may also be useful for PMS symptoms, SAD, OCD and for menopausal and premenopausal women with psychological and psychosomatic symptoms. The oily preparations are also used to treat burns, injuries, allergic dermatitis and muscle pain. When will it start to work?

It often starts to exert beneficial effects in depression within 2-4 weeks of continuous Are there any safety issues?

St John's wort is well tolerated and has far less side-effects than pharmaceutical antidepressant drugs, but it can interact with a number of different medications.

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