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The Benefits of Hypericum Perforatum

By Aileen Clarkson ; Updated September 21, 2017

Hypericum perforatum, commonly known as St. John's wort, has been used for thousands of years as an herbal treatment. The bushy plant, which grows so easily in some areas that it's classified as a weed, is hardy to USDA zone 3. It is drought- and heat-tolerant, and it roots quite easily. This plant with sunny yellow flowers was named by early Christian mystics after St. John the Baptist. Today it is used to treat depression and other psychological disorders.

Help with Depression

According to MedlinePlus, European studies over the last two decades and more recent U.S. studies suggest that Hypericum perforatum is more effective than a placebo, and as effective as tricyclic antidepressants, in treating mild- to moderate major depression. Data show that Hypericum perforatum may be as effective as serotonin-specific reuptake inhibitor (SSRIs) with fewer side effects, the Mayo Clinic says. For most of the patients, the herb improved depression symptoms (such as anxiety, feelings of worthlessness and loss of interest) and secondary symptoms (such as lack of concentration and trouble sleeping).

Help with Somatoform Disorders

People with somatoform disorders have physical symptoms or complaints that have no organic basis. Symptoms can include hypersensitivity to pain or motor disability. According to the Mayo Clinic, Hypericum perforatum may help with somatoform disorders. A 2000 study showed that in each of six tests, Hypericum perforatum was superior to a placebo.

Help with Menopause

A 1999 clinical study involving more than 100 menopausal women took a standard dosage of Hypericum perforatum extract for 12 weeks. For 75 to 80 percent of the women, their menopausal symptoms diminished or disappeared completely, according to the National Institutes of Health. The study also noted that the patients' sexual well-being improved after treatment.

Other Health Benefits

According to Ageless, an herbal anti-aging site, Hypericum perforatum has other possible benefits, including use as a sedative, liver tonic and antispasmodic. It might also be used to treat enuresis (involuntary bedwetting), shingles and fibrositis. As with depression or somatoform disorders, using Hypericum perforatum for any of these problems should first be discussed with your health practitioner.


About the Author


Aileen Clarkson has been an award-winning editor and reporter for more than 20 years, earning three awards from the Society of Professional Journalists. She has worked for several newspapers, including "The Washington Post" and "The Charlotte Observer." Clarkson earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Florida.