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! The big yellow thing in the sky! 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!

🌿RelatedThe Truth About Naturopathy In New Zealand That Will Surprise You

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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 part of the plant that we use are the aerial parts, so 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. We are lucky to source our St John’s wort from around Central Otago.

wild-harvesting-saint-johns-wort

 

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 heaps 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 purchase some from your local health shop. 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!).

🌿RelatedYour Ultimate Guide To Herbal Tea 

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 4 weeks. Alcohol extracts a lot of the actives within the plant and it then can be taken at small doses daily. Our brand new Mood Boost contains St John’s wort tincture which gives it it’s high therapeutic actions 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 governmental 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.

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 we need for a healthy and happier mood.

The interesting part of recent studies is that previously hypericin was the constituent that people thought gave the plant such a mood lifting action - however they have found it is the combination of all the constituents within the plant that lend this effect. Once again highlighting that nature is better as a whole - not an isolated constituent.

St John’s wort also helps to reduce and breakdown 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 the 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 4 weeks might be enough to help (with thing like seasonal affective disorder (SAD) which is only in winter) 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, auto immune medication or blood pressure medication you should not take high dose 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 Repair. 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, sunburn 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! 

Plus, St John's wort is 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?

You know how to take St John's wort, but where can you buy it? St John’s wort is available everywhere; supermarkets, pharmacies and health stores, you name it. But each product is different. If you are feeling 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 often 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 this to take into consideration. 

Avoid high doses - If possible please DO NOT buy high dose 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 plants origins, and always remember that St John’s wort will interfere with medication if it is high dose. 

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

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