A Naturopath's Top 10 Tips For Taking St. John’s Wort

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Summer brings all the great things – warmer weather, longer days – and sun!  What it also brings is St John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum– a different (plant form) of sun, with its beautiful yellow flowers. If you are new to herbal medicine or have heard about the amazing benefits of this plant, then you may be wondering how to take St John’s wort. This guide will tell you everything you need to know!

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What is St John's wort?

St John’s wort is often described as herbal sunshine, it can help with lightening moods and is also effective for helping with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) when the sun is less than visible. St John’s wort starts flowering in December and tolerates hot and cold temperatures, damp and drought and windy areas.

The parts of the plant that we use are the aerial parts, such as the flowering tops and leaves. This plant has small dark green oval leaves and bright yellow flowers. The flowers have a red tinge on the underside with edged black dots that contain the key constituent hypericin. St John’s wort is one of the plants we wild harvest (from Central Otago in New Zealand).

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How can I use St John's wort?

If you are wondering how to take St John’s wort, you’ll be pleased to know that there are a multitude of ways that this plant can be used. From wild foraging to herbal supplements, we have lots of ideas to help you incorporate it into your everyday.

Tea - You can take St John’s wort as a tea by drying some flowers or purchasing some from your local health store. By adding 1 tsp per 150ml hot water and steeping it for 5 minutes, you can make a wonderful tea to support your mood and nervous system. Having a St John’s wort tea will not interfere with your medication as it is only using the water soluble constituents (keep reading for more info on this!).

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Tincture - If you need more support, a tincture is often the best way of taking St John’s wort. A tincture is when the plant has been steeped in alcohol for at least four weeks. Alcohol extracts a lot of the actives within the plant, which can then be taken in small doses daily. Our Mood Boost contains St John’s wort tincture (as well as lemon balm and hawthorn), which gives it its high therapeutic action and makes it quick and easy for you to take each day.

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Can St John's wort help with depression and anxiety?

There is a large body of clinical evidence that supports St John’s wort use for depression and anxiety. The German Commission E (which is a government-recognised body) approved a standardised St John’s wort extract to officially support low to moderate mood issues, and it is one of the most studied and prescribed plants in complementary medicines today.

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If you struggle with your mood and are wondering how to take St John’s wort, then a St John’s wort supplement could be the perfect solution. A multitude of studies have highlighted its efficacy and also the lack of side effects that people experience when taking this amazing plant.

How does St John's wort work?

Once you’ve learnt how to take St John’s wort, you’ll probably be wondering how it works. This plant works by helping to support reuptake of dopamine, serotonin, nor-adrenalin and GABA. All the good things you need for a healthy and happier mood.

Previously, hypericin was thought to be the constituent that gave this plant its mood-lifting action - however, they have found it is the combination of all the constituents within the plant that lends this effect. Once again, it highlights that nature is better as a whole - not an isolated constituent.

St John’s wort also helps to reduce and break down levels of the stress hormone cortisol within the body, and it is also able to cross the blood-brain barrier, which can help with mood support. Clinical trials have also shown that St John’s wort helps with some of the psychological aspects due to hormonal changes like PMS, perimenopause and menopause.

Using St John’s wort also helps with reducing the side effects some find with conventional treatment; often, people find they struggle with upset stomachs with some medications. This does not happen with St John’s wort.

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How much St John's wort should I take?

When learning how to take St John's wort, you'll want to know which dose is suitable and safe. Clinical trials have been done on a range of doses from 300-1200mg a day - with the majority of trials using 900mg.

With this information in mind, we formulated our Mood Boost to have 900mg per 5ml (1 tsp) of St John’s wort, which is a daily therapeutic dose to support healthy mood levels (for the average adult)To be effective for mood support, you would not want to go lower than that dose or, to be fair, much higher.

Because we all metabolise things differently, it is a good idea to start with the 5ml a day and see how you feel. A course of four weeks might be enough to help (with things like seasonal affective disorder); otherwise, you may need a bit more support. We are always here if you need any assistance or wish to chat about doses.

Is Saint John's wort safe to take?

If you are on long-term medication like the oral contraceptive pill, autoimmune medication or blood pressure medication, you should not take high doses of St John's wort products. That’s because the key constituent in this plant, hypericin, works on your liver enzymes, making you metabolise your medication faster. You should also not take St John’s wort if you are pregnant.

Can I use St John's wort topically?

Absolutely! St John’s wort can help you with all things skin and nerves, which is why we use it in our Golden Skin Oil. We use Central Otago St John’s wort and kawakawa in organic olive oil to create a beautiful and versatile oil. In summer, it’s the perfect addition to the first aid kit for bug bites, sunburns, or any cuts or grazes. Our Golden Skin Repair is also deeply nourishing and hydrating, so you can use it as a night oil or put it on dry lips. It can even help with unruly hair in more humid climates! 

St John's wort is also great for sore muscles and nerve pain. Due to its high amount of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory constituents, this plant can help support the body’s nerves and muscles to help reduce inflammation and support healthy movement, making it a great choice for active people.

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Where can I find trustworthy St John's wort supplements?

Now you know how to take St John's wort, but where can you buy it? St John’s wort is available in supermarkets, pharmacies and health stores. But each product is different. If you feel like you need mood support, looking for a whole-plant, high-quality supplement is essential. Also, be aware there are some really high-dose tablets on the market, which may not be the best choice, as higher doses are not always better.

Whole plant supplement - We suggest you look for a St John’s wort supplement that is from the whole plant; this way, you are getting all of the active constituents it has to offer - which has been shown to be the most effective way of taking this plant. 

Optimal dosage - Look for at least 900mg as a dose, organic or wildcrafted in origin and from Aotearoa if possible. Our Mood Tonic is all these things! We only do liquid products as we believe it is the easiest and most absorbable way to take plants, so that is another thing to consider. 

Avoid high doses - If possible, please DO NOT buy high doses of St John’s wort from supermarkets or cheaper brands from pharmacies as they are often full of excipients, and we are not always sure of the plant's origins. Always remember that St John’s wort will interfere with medication if it is a high dose. 

If you have any questions about this amazing plant, please ask us in the comments below!

1 comment

  • Posted on by Willie Johnson
    Thank you! Your information is not only needed it’s also helpful. You shared information I truly didn’t know.

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