PLANT PORM: ST JOHN'S WORT

Words by Abi Himan

 

NAMECHECK

This one goes by a few names - St John's Wort, penny John, God's wonder plant or Hypericum perfortum if we're being formal. A lot of religious references on this one, and that's probably down to its centuries-old use to help relieve anxiety and in treating depression. 

THE DEETS

You may be more familiar with this one as a capsule or tea sold in pharmacies and health food shops, but in the wild you'll find this jolly little perennial creeping along shady woodland floors. It starts life as a tiny, bright little bud emerging from glossy yellow leaves before exploding into a showy yellow bloom with a mass of prominent stamens. Once the flower has passed, a small, firm, berry-like seed pods is left.

WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR?

Absolutely everything! (or quite a bit anyway) There are records of extracts of St John's Wort being used as early as the 1st century AD, and from around the Middle Ages for it's mood-improving properties, and it is still used widely today to help treat anxiety, depression and insomnia, as well as to aid menopause, kidney and lung ailments. It's even thought to have anti-viral and anti-bacterial, with a recent study finding it helped prevent cytokine storms - one of the more dangerous symptoms of COVID-19. Pretty spectacular plant by all accounts!

If you are thinking of taking St John's Wort, be aware that it contains active substances which can have serious interactions with other medications, so always read the label and check with your GP before taking if you're not sure.

If you are struggling with your mental health, don't try and treat depression on your own, talk to a friend, reach out to a charity like Mind, or contact your GP. 

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