St. John’s Wort, or Hypericum perforatum, is an herb commonly used to treat depression and related conditions, such as anxiety, fatigue, loss of appetite, and sleep troubles. It contains several chemicals, including hypericin, hyperforin, and pseudohypericin, that are thought to be the sources of the herb’s antidepressant nature. The dried herb is composed of the plant’s flowering tops and leaves.

This herb is well-known for its effectiveness in treating depression; many studies have shown St. John’s Wort to be just as effective as standard antidepressants, with less adverse reactions reported. Any potential side effects are very mild when taken correctly and can include dry mouth, dizziness, or constipation.

St. John’s Wort has also been used to treat inflammation, heart palpitations, menopause symptoms (especially mood swings), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), seasonal affective disorder (SAD), migraines, muscle pain, nerve pain, and IBS. In several studies, St. John’s Wort has shown effectiveness for lessening symptoms of nicotine withdrawal and reducing the craving for alcohol, as well as a possible treatment for viral illnesses such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C.

St. John’s Wort is available in a number of different forms: tablets, capsules, tinctures, fluid extracts, powdered extracts, and oils. Topical applications can be used directly on the area several times a day, while oral applications are generally 300 mg three times daily (to treat an adult with depression). Some forms of St. John’s Wort can be brewed to form a tea for drinking. Be sure to check with a professional to determine the correct dosage for your particular health concern, as dosages can vary depending on the issue.

Caution should be taken when using St. John’s Wort, as it has been reported to interact with many prescription and nonprescription medication. If you are pregnant or nursing, avoid taking this herb. Always consult your health care provider before use.