Medicinal properties and contraindications of St. John's wort
Botanical description of St. John's wort
One of the most effective plants in therapeutic practice is St. John's wort, or ordinary. This medicinal herb grows up to 30–70 cm, blooms in June-August with small yellow flowers. The most favorable habitats are light forest glades and dry meadows. For medicinal purposes, the leafy tops of the plant with inflorescences are used. It is best to collect them from the very beginning of flowering, since during this period the content of nutrients is maximum.
In nature, there are several types of herbs called St. John's wort. There are shrubs with this name, and even small trees. In folk medicine, St. John's wort (perforated) and St. John's wort are used. They differ both externally and healing properties very slightly.
In the Middle Ages, there was a belief that St. John's wort is able to protect against evil spirits, ghosts and witches. He was placed with the child in a crib or hung from a cradle. It was believed that this way the baby would have good dreams, and the evil spirits would not scare him.
On the fresh grass of St. John's wort, girls wondered for love: they crumpled the stems in their hands, if the juice appeared red, then the feeling was mutual, if colorless, then the chosen one was indifferent.
Travelers took St. John's wort with them on the road, it was believed that he would protect against attacks of wild animals and robbers.
There are many legends about the origin of St. John's wort. So, among Christian peoples, its appearance is associated with the death of John the Baptist. When his head was cut off, St. John's wort grew in place of the drops of blood that had fallen to the ground. Therefore, according to the Slavic tradition, this plant is called "Ivan's blood".
Composition and useful properties of St. John's wort
St. John's wort contains many useful substances, due to which it has healing properties. The plant contains flavone compounds (rutin, quercetin, etc.), ascorbic and nicotinic acids, saponins, sugars, carotene, tocopherol, hypericin, cetyl alcohol, choline, hyperoside, phytoncides, essential oil, tannins, resinous and bitter substances. Healing components allow this medicinal plant to be used quite widely. It is used as an antibacterial, antiseptic, analgesic, wound healing, antirheumatic, diuretic, choleretic, astringent, antihelminthic agent, and also as a regenerating agent.
Since ancient times, extracts from the herb St. John's wort, prepared in water, have been used to treat heart diseases, rheumatism, colds, flu, headaches, diseases of the liver, stomach, bladder, bedwetting, hemorrhoids, inflammation of the female genital organs.
And only recently, medical scientists discovered another useful property of St. John's wort. Clinical studies have shown that the plant has a positive effect on the nervous system and has an antidepressant effect. This makes St. John's wort even more valuable, since it has almost no contraindications and does not cause side effects, in contrast to sedative drugs of chemical origin.
Let's consider the composition of St. John's wort in more detail:
- Tocopherol is a vitamin E that is needed to protect the body from the damaging effects of free radicals;
- Carotene is a precursor of vitamin A. It is necessary for the proper functioning of the eyes, the renewal of skin cells, the fight against viruses and bacteria;
- Tannins help cleanse wounds from infection, relieve inflammation, and accelerate healing;
Nicotinic acid is essential for the proper functioning of the heart and nervous system;
- Vitamin C enhances immunity, promotes the restoration and renewal of cartilage, ligaments, maintains skin turgor, prevents the degeneration of normal cells into cancerous ones;
- Hypericin and hyperforin are special substances that have an antidepressant effect;
- Hyperozide and rutin strengthen the walls of blood vessels;
- Phytoncides are herbal "antibiotics" that have a powerful antimicrobial effect.
Such a combination of biologically active substances in the composition of a medicinal plant allows it to be used in the treatment of many diseases.
St. John's wort in cosmetology
This medicinal herb has proven itself well in the beauty industry. It has anti-inflammatory, tonic, anti-aging and antiseborrheic effects.
St. John's wort is successfully used for:
- Increased oily skin;
- Fading and wrinkles;
- Baldness and dandruff;
- Pustular skin diseases;
- Cracked heels.
With profuse acne rashes on the skin of the face, daily evening washing with an infusion of St. John's wort is recommended. To do this, you need to take 1 tablespoon of chopped dried herbs, pour 1 glass of boiling water and leave for 20 minutes. You need to wash with infusion every evening before going to bed, do not get wet with a towel, do not rinse, let dry on the skin.
Read more: Acne - what is it? Types of acne, causes and methods of treatment
Increased oily skin
If a greasy shine quickly appears on the skin, a strong decoction of St. John's wort will help you. Pour two tablespoons of dried herbs with one glass of boiling water, put on low heat and cook for 10 minutes. After cooling, strain and wipe your face with a cotton pad, let dry, rinse with cool water.
You can make a mask from the steamed St. John's wort herb. To do this, pour two tablespoons of raw materials with four tablespoons of boiling water, stir, let it brew. The resulting gruel is applied to a cleanly washed face, avoiding the area around the eyes. It is necessary to keep the mask for 10-15 minutes. Wash off with cool water. Do not more than twice a week.
Fading and wrinkles
Ice rubbing and a lotion based on St. John's wort will help restore skin tone. For ice rubbing, you need to prepare a decoction of St. John's wort (see the recipe above), cool, strain and freeze, pouring into special ice molds. Every morning after washing, it is recommended to wipe your face and décolleté with a piece of such ice.
To make the lotion, you need to mix 1 glass of St. John's wort infusion (see the recipe above) and mix with 1 tablespoon of vodka. Wipe your face and décolleté after washing in the evening before bed.
Baldness and dandruff
With baldness, one third of a glass of St. John's wort should be taken orally 10 minutes before meals, 2 times a day. To get rid of dandruff, you need to rinse your hair after washing with the infusion of St. John's wort, prepared according to the above recipe.
Pustular skin diseases
With pustular diseases, the skin is wiped with a decoction of St. John's wort. To prevent the spread of infection to healthy areas, washing is carried out with a cotton pad. The disc should be moistened in the broth, squeezed slightly, with blotting movements, treat the skin in an area with a radius of no more than 3 cm, discard the used disc, take a clean one. Repeat the entire procedure on the next area of the skin.
Read more: Dandruff treatment - 7 fail-safe methods
To alleviate the condition, foot baths are shown. To do this, you need to prepare 2 liters of broth at the rate of 4 tablespoons of chopped herbs per 0.5 liters of boiling water, cook over low heat for 5 minutes. Pour into a small basin, cool to 45 ° C (hot, but bearable), lower your legs and keep until the broth cools down.
Read more: Causes and Treatment of Cracked Heels
The use of St. John's wort in medicine
The active substances, which St. John's wort is rich in, made it "a herb for 99 ailments."
In official medical practice, they use both dried raw materials - St. John's wort herb, and medicines made on its basis.
The plant is used under the following conditions:
- Inflammatory diseases of the oral cavity (inflammation of the gums, tonsillitis, pharyngitis, stomatitis);
- Diseases of the biliary tract and digestive tract (dyskinesia, hypotension of the gallbladder, hepatitis, cholecystitis, bloating, hypoacid stomach, diarrhea);
- Depressive states, insomnia, increased anxiety.
The effectiveness of this medicinal herb in inflammatory diseases of the oral cavity is due to the content of a large amount of tannins, phytoncides and beta-carotene.
The drug Novoimanin was made on the basis of St. John's wort extract. It is indicated for purulent skin diseases - abscesses, phlegmon, infected wounds, burns, inflammation of the pharynx, sinusitis. Its effectiveness is so high that it is able to suppress the growth of even Staphylococcus aureus, which is resistant to penicillin drugs.
The choleretic effect and the ability to normalize intestinal motility in case of flatulence and diarrhea is associated with the content of essential oil in the plant.
The ability of St. John's wort is well known to eliminate manifestations of depression. Numerous studies have shown that in patients with mild depressive conditions, the effectiveness of drugs based on St. John's wort is even higher than that of classical antidepressants. In addition, the herbal preparation does not cause drowsiness, lethargy, does not affect the ability to drive, and does not reduce the reaction rate. Hypericum antidepressants improve mood, relieve anxiety, and induce a surge of vitality. The official St. John's wort medicines to combat depression, anxiety, irritability and anxiety: the German drug Gelarium Hypericum and the Russian herbal remedy Negrustin, both sold without a prescription.
Warning! Treatment of any disease will be effective only if the diagnosis is precisely known, the existing complications and contraindications are taken into account. In difficult advanced cases, traditional medicine techniques should be combined with classical methods of treating a particular disease.
Herbalists recommend treatment with St. John's wort for the following diseases:
- Heart palpitations;
- Gallstone disease, inflammation of the gallbladder, hepatitis, including viral;
- Arthritis, joint pain;
- Skin infections, burns;
- Mental illness, including depression;
Before starting any herbal therapy, you should consult with your doctor. This will help avoid fatal mistakes, the price of which is life and health.
Most often, St. John's wort is used in the form:
- Water infusion;
- Alcohol tincture;
- Healing tea.
All of them can be made at home.
Herbal preparations are very popular, which, in addition to St. John's wort, include other medicinal plants. Fees act more efficiently and faster due to the summation of useful properties.
As a raw material for the preparation of dosage forms of St. John's wort, dried herb purchased at a pharmacy can be used. It is sold in bulk in cardboard boxes or in filter bags. It is best to use grass in bulk.
If you wish, you can prepare St. John's wort yourself, if it is possible to collect the plant away from major roads, factories, factories, railways.
John's wort should be collected during its flowering. Plants are cut with a knife close to the ground. Dried upside down, tied in bunches. When drying, direct exposure to sunlight should be avoided, it is better if it is a shaded place (canopy, attic).
St. John's wort treatment: the best recipes
It is very important to remember that this medicinal plant can seriously harm, and to understand this, it is enough to carefully read the name. Therefore, before starting treatment, it is best to consult a doctor. As a rule, fresh grass is used as an external agent. For this, leaves and inflorescences are crushed, which promotes the healing of wounds, ulcers and bruises, and are used as lotions for sore spots - for example, for allergies, rashes, and also after insect bites. You can add a little honey and use the plant as a bandage to heal joints or lower back.
Freshly squeezed juice from St. John's wort is rarely used. Since it is difficult to obtain the required amount of juice, infusions, tinctures, decoctions, ointments and oil are often prepared.
St. John's wort infusion: to prepare the infusion, you need to take 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh herbs or 1 tablespoon dry, and pour 200 ml of boiling water over it. Insist 3-4 hours in a dark place, after which the agent can be used 15 ml 3 times a day before meals to get rid of gastritis, normalize gastric acidity, with colitis, cystitis, gallstone disease, headache, to improve venous circulation, increase blood pressure, etc. In case of colds or infections of the oral cavity, rinse from St. John's wort is used. To treat inflammation on the skin, lotions or compresses are prepared with the same remedy. The infusion is used to treat skin diseases in children, adding it to the bath when bathing.
St. John's wort decoction: it is used in much the same way as the infusion. To prepare the broth, you need an enamel pan or heat-resistant glass dish. Take 1.5 tablespoons of herbs and pour a glass of hot water over it. Then the container with the brewed herb is heated in a water bath for 20–30 minutes, but not boiled. A decoction of St. John's wort is used externally for washing, rubbing the skin, rinsing the hair, inside - for intestinal infections, diarrhea.
St. John's wort tincture: The herb of St. John's wort is insisted on vodka or alcohol in a ratio of 1: 7 or 1:10, left in a dark place for three days or more. The drug should be consumed by mixing with water: one teaspoon per 50 ml of water. This medicine is also used for rinsing the mouth and for inhalation. Alcohol tincture is very effective as a warming compress for muscle or joint pain.
For external use, an ointment or oil is prepared. Such a remedy promotes the healing of wounds, ulcers, bruises, sprains, etc. An ointment is prepared by mixing animal fat, petroleum jelly or oily baby cream with the evaporated extract of St. John's wort or dry herb powder.
St. John's wort oil: It can be prepared as follows: take one part of the flowers and infuse in two parts of olive, almond or peach oil for three weeks. This drug is used as oil compresses to treat ulcers, burns or wounds.
To prepare the medicine, you can take ordinary vegetable oil, add dried herb and leave for 5 days (in a ratio of 1: 1.5). If the healing oil is prepared on the basis of fresh herbs, then the proportions of 1: 1 are observed. In the villages of Siberia, such oil is widely used to treat gums and oral mucosa (in the case of stomatitis or gingivitis).
Hypericum tea. It is prepared in the same way as a hot infusion. 1 teaspoon of St. John's wort is poured into the teapot and poured into 1 glass of boiling water. The color of linden, a spoonful of honey or a handful of strawberries can be added to the tea. Tea is used not as a medicinal, but as a preventive measure to strengthen the immune system.
There are many recipes for traditional medicine based on St. John's wort. Here are the best ones.
Stomach treatment with St. John's wort
If gastritis is accompanied by severe pain, then it is possible to use herbal. To prepare the infusion, you will need one part of the meadowsweet herb, nettle and St. John's wort. Place the herbs in a dry jar and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon. Then take 1 tablespoon of the mixture, pour it into a teapot and pour 200 ml of boiling water. Insist 1 hour. Drink half a glass 5 times a day before meals.
If, along with gastritis, heartburn is worried, then collecting plants will help: 1 tablespoon of St. John's wort, dried fruit, yarrow. Pour all ingredients with 1 liter of water. Let it brew for 2 hours, take half a glass half an hour before meals or when an attack of heartburn begins.
Treatment of vitiligo St. John's wort
Vitiligo is a disease in which, for unknown reasons, in certain areas, the skin loses its pigment - melanin, in this place white spots of a round shape appear. In severe cases, they grow slowly, merging with each other and capturing more and more new areas of the body. Most often exposed to vitiligo are exposed areas of the skin: face, neck, décolleté, hands. The spots do not hurt or itch.
For a long time, St. John's wort has been used to treat vitiligo. In the fight against this disease, an infusion of herbs and ointment were used:
- Infusion for the treatment of vitiligo. To prepare the infusion, you need to take 1 teaspoon of dried St. John's wort herb, put it in a faience teapot, pour 1 glass of boiling water, leave to infuse for half an hour, strain. Take 1 tablespoon in the morning, at lunchtime, in the evening before going to bed for 3 weeks. After an 8-day break, repeat the course of treatment. Do this until the total number of courses is 8;
- Ointment for the treatment of vitiligo. Collect fresh flowers of St. John's wort, tamp well in a glass jar "shoulder length". Pour in cold-pressed vegetable oil, preferably olive oil, as much as it takes. Expose to the sun for 2 weeks. Collect the fresh flowers of St. John's wort again, tamp it tightly into a jar, pour the squeezed oil from the first portion. Insist 2 weeks. Collect the flowers in a jar again and pour over the squeezed oil from the second portion. Do this 5 times. By the end, the vegetable oil will turn into a thick, viscous liquid, resembling a cream. You need to lubricate vitiligo spots with it once a day, leave until completely absorbed. Wash off the remains after 30 minutes with warm water.
More: Vitiligo - causes, stages, why is it dangerous, how and how to treat vitiligo?
Treatment of sinusitis with St. John's wort
To treat sinusitis with St. John's wort, you will need a decoction of this herb (see the recipe above). Before rinsing, drip vasoconstrictor drops into the nose to relieve swelling and give healing water access to the nasal sinuses.
Rinse the nasal cavity with warm decoction of St. John's wort 3 times a day. After the procedure, blow your nose well with both nostrils. The course of treatment is 7 days. Flushing can be done with a syringe without a needle. Tilt your head over the sink, draw the broth into a syringe and inject it into the nostril. Spit out the emitting liquid.
Read more: Sinusitis in adults - causes, signs and symptoms
Hypericum liver treatment
With congestion in the gallbladder, cholecystitis, it is necessary to stimulate the secretion of bile. An infusion of St. John's wort will cope well with this task (see the recipe above). In the morning after waking up, drink 0.5 glass of infusion on an empty stomach. Have breakfast in half an hour. During the day, take 2 tbsp. l. after each meal, but no more than 5 times a day. Duration of treatment is 7 days.
Read more: Liver disease - causes, symptoms and treatment
St. John's wort gastritis treatment
The infusion of the plant helps well with exacerbation of gastritis. To prepare the infusion, you will need 1 tablespoon or 1 filter bag of St. John's wort, brew them in a glass container with 1 glass of boiling water. Leave to infuse for about 1 hour. Drink 15 ml (1 tablespoon) before each meal.
Read more: Gastritis - Causes, Signs and Symptoms
Treatment of alcoholism with St. John's wort
To induce a feeling of aversion to alcohol, a strong decoction is prepared with the help of St. John's wort. Pour four tablespoons of chopped dry herb with 2 cups of boiling water, heat in a water bath for half an hour. Cool down. Drink 2 tablespoons in the morning and evening before meals. The reception should be deliberate, that is, there will be no effect if you add the broth to food without the knowledge of the patient. The course of treatment is 14 days.
Read more: Treatment of alcoholism with folk remedies
St. John's wort treatment for depression
Since those components of a medicinal plant that have an antidepressant effect are poorly soluble in water, the tincture of St. John's wort is the best drug in the treatment of anxiety and mood disorders. You can cook it at home. The recipe is written above. To get rid of depression, take 10-12 drops of tincture 3 times a day before meals. Duration of treatment is 1 month.
Read more: Sedatives for adults
Contraindications and side effects of St. John's wort
St. John's wort belongs to slightly toxic plants. If this herb is used for a long time, there may be discomfort in the liver area, sometimes a feeling of bitterness in the mouth.
The main side effects and contraindications are:
- Photosensitivity is the increased sensitivity of the skin to ultraviolet radiation. Therefore, those who receive treatment with St. John's wort should not stay in direct sunlight for a long time;
- The plant causes an increase in blood pressure, so patients with hypertension should consult a doctor before starting treatment with this herb;
- The substances contained in St. John's wort can cause rejection of the transplanted organ. Therefore, patients who have undergone an organ transplant or transplant implantation operation are prohibited from using medicines based on this plant;
- Women taking birth control pills should remember that St. John's wort reduces their contraceptive effect, so an unwanted pregnancy may occur;
- Long-term use of this medicinal plant can cause a weakening of potency in men, which disappears after the drug is discontinued;
- Drinking decoctions and extracts of St. John's wort for more than 1 month in a row can cause an increase in the liver;
- In people with mental illness, this herb can exacerbate the manic syndrome. The same effect can occur while taking St. John's wort with other antidepressants. Patients may experience hallucinations, convulsions, confusion, in severe cases, coma may occur;
- You should not take St. John's wort at the same time as antibiotics, as it promotes faster elimination of the drug from the body, as a result of which the effect of antimicrobial therapy is reduced;
- Another important note: St. John's wort is able to halve the blood content of a very important medicine for AIDS called Indinavir. Given this circumstance, people with AIDS should not use St. John's wort. In addition, the plant significantly reduces the effect of anticoagulants and cardiac drugs, so it is better not to use it together with these agents;
- For older people using modern antidepressants, St. John's wort should be taken with extreme caution. Combining this herb with antidepressants can lead to dizziness, confusion, anxiety, and migraine attacks;
- It is necessary to be careful about the use of St. John's wort in people who need anesthesia, as this plant can prolong or enhance the effect of certain pain medications. Therefore, before the introduction of anesthesia, it is very important to inform the doctor about the use of St. John's wort. Recent plant studies have shown that some of the plant's components also have a negative effect on the optic nerve.
Can St. John's wort be used during pregnancy?
Since this plant is famous for its healing properties, the question very often arises, can expectant mothers use it? It is strictly contraindicated to consume St. John's wort inside while carrying a child and breastfeeding, since St. John's wort can negatively affect the course of pregnancy, and also gives a bitter taste to breast milk.
External use in the form of ointments, rinsing, washing is allowed for women at any gestational age.
The author of the article: Sokolova Nina Vladimirovna | Phytotherapist
Education: Diploma in "General Medicine" and "Therapy" received at the Pirogov University (2005 and 2006). Advanced training at the Department of Phytotherapy at the Peoples' Friendship University of Moscow (2008).
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