Hypericum for Herbal Naturopathy: properties, benefits, uses, side effects

Hypericum is a plant with known antidepressant and sedative properties, also used externally for the treatment of various skin disorders.

Hypericum (Hypericum perforatum) is a plant of the Hypericaceae family. Plant also known by the name of St. John’s wort, its flowering tops are rich in hypericins and flavonoids and are used for their antidepressant action.

What is Hypericum used for

Hypericum is one of the best natural antidepressants and also performs spasmolytic action. It is a useful remedy for depression when it is mild, to relieve mood swings during menopause and premenstrual syndrome, promote relaxation and sleep and improve digestion.

The therapeutic properties of St. John’s wort are due to the phytocomplex present in the leaves and flowering tops. The hypericum drug contains naphthodiantrones (hypericin and pseudohypericin) and acylfloroglucinols (hyperforin and adiperforin), as well as flavonoids (rutin, quercetin), tannins and essential oil. These substances give the plant antidepressant, sedative and digestive properties and, for external use, anti-inflammatory and healing properties.

The phytocoplect present in St. John’s wort acts mainly on the central nervous system by inhibiting the presynaptic reuptake of serotonin and other neurotransmitters including norepinephrine, dopamine and GABA, increasing over time the receptors for these neurotransmitters.

From the maceration from the fresh flowering tops in sunflower oil or other vegetable oil, St. John’s wort oil is also obtained, with its typical reddish color. Hypericum oleolite has emollient, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties and is used to relieve the skin in case of burns, sunburn, psoriasis, to speed up the healing of wounds and sores, make scars and stretch marks less evident and to counteract dryness of the skin of the face and body, skin aging.

Why is it called St. John’s Wort?

St. John’s wort is also known as St. John’s wort or St. John’s plant because its flowering coincides in principle with the day dedicated to St. John. The small flowers of St. John’s wort, in fact, usually hatch around June 23. They can be admired and collected in dry soils, along the edges of roads, on the edges of fields and in clearings, up to 1600 meters above sea level.

How much St. John’s wort to take per day?


  • St. John’s wort extract: 900 mg per day, divided into three administrations for at least four weeks.
  • Mother tincture: 30 dropsdispersed ina glass of water 1-3 times a day for 2 consecutive months.
  • Infusion:2 grams of the drug in 150 milliliters of boiling water twice a day.


  • St. John’s wort oil:70 grams of fresh flowering tops, 250 milliliters of sunflower oil

Place the flowers in an airtight jar, cover with oil and leave to macerate for six weeks at room temperature. Every day shake the jar once to three times, to facilitate extraction. After six weeks he spent exposed to the sun for a whole day, then filtered and stored St. John’s wort oil in dark glass bottles, away from light and heat.

  • Hypericum oleolite is used every day by massaging a few drops on the face and neck to combat wrinkles and signs of aging and on the body in case of stretch marks or sagging skin or as needed in case of wounds, sores, sunburn, erythema, psoriasis and other skin problems.
  • Infusion: 5-10 grams of the drug per 100 milliliters of boiling water, filtered and left to cool for use in case of skin problems.

Side effects of St. John’s wort

Although St. John’s wort is considered a safe and well-tolerated remedy, its use has some contraindications. The use of St. John’s wort is for example not recommended in case of allergies to one or more of its components and during pregnancy and lactation.

In addition, hypericin causes a photosensitization reaction, with the appearance of erythema and spots following exposure to UV rays, so it is not recommended to expose yourself to the sun during treatments with St. John’s wort.

Taking St. John’s wort extracts can also have side effects, many of which result from drug interactions. St. John’s wort is in fact an inducer of various forms of cytochrome P450 (an enzyme complex present in the liver), including CYP3A4 and CYP1A2. The simultaneous administration of St. John’s wort and drugs metabolized by these cytochromes may decrease the bioavailability and, consequently, the effectiveness of the drug. In addition, St. John’s wort can increase the expression of P-glycoprotein, a transporter expressed mainly in the intestine and kidney, reducing absorption and increasing the elimination of certain drugs.

In particular, St. John’s wort should not be taken if you follow therapies with warfarin, cyclosporine, digoxin, oral contraceptives and many others. In addition, the administration of St. John’s wort can lead to serotonin syndrome in combination with drugs that increase serotonin levels. Before deciding to start a treatment with St. John’s wort it is good to consult your doctor or inform your pharmacist and herbalist about the therapies you are following.

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