St John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum L.)
DID YOU KNOW?
This Eurasian plant is also native to Hungary. It is a herbaceous perennial found on clearings in woods, grasslands and pastures. Its cylindrical stem is 50-100 cm tall with opposing stalkless oblong entire leaves. The flowers appear in broad branched cymes made up of yellow five petaled flowers with many stamens. The leaves exhibit glandular dots (oil glands) and there are glandular dots and stripes on the petals. When held up to light, the dots on the leaves appear yellowish or translucent, giving them a perforated appearance, hence the Latin name. It is cultivated in loose, nutrient-rich soil but it also survives in more inimical conditions. Currently there are two commercial cultivars: Topaz from Poland and Anthos from Germany. The herb is collected at the start of flowering, but only the upper 30-40 cm of the plant is harvested, as this is the part containing significant amount of essential oil. It is even better to only cut off the flower, and then the side shoots will flower 4-5 weeks later.
Due to its numerous active ingredients, it was used for diverse purposes in traditional medicine. Its flavonoids make it effective in treating gastric ulcer, duodenal ulcer, bile and liver problems as well as hard-healing wounds. Its hypericin derivatives are antiviral, thus inhibiting the multiplication and spread of viruses. St John's wort extract is used by the pharmaceutical industry in products for the treatment of depression. Its hypericin content may cause photosensitivity, therefore especially patients with light complexion should avoid direct exposure to sun.
It is often used by the beauty industry in products for sensitive, rough, lipid and moisture deficient skin prone to inflammation but it is suitable for all types of skin as prevention, for its anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, soothing, roborant and regenerating effects.
Flowery stem (Hyperici herba)
Hypericin derivatives: 0.05-0.5 % (hypericin, pseudohypericin)
Flavonoids: 1-7%: flavonglycosides (hiperoside, rutin), biflavonoids (biapigenin, amentoflavone),
Tannins: 4-15 %
Essential oil: 0.05-0.3 %
Phenolic carboxylic acids
Phloroglucinol derivatives: 4-6 % (hyperforin, adhyperforin)