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Concept: St John's wort


Hypericum perforatum L. (St. John’s wort) is a medicinal plant with pharmacological properties that are antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, anti-cancer, and antibacterial. Its major active metabolites are hypericins, hyperforins, and melatonin. However, little genetic information is available for this species, especially that concerning the biosynthetic pathways for active ingredients.

Concepts: DNA, Pharmacology, Metabolism, Venlafaxine, St John's wort, Hypericum, Hyperforin, Clusiaceae


St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) has been intensively investigated for its antidepressive activity, but dermatological applications also have a long tradition. Topical St. John’s wort preparations such as oils or tinctures are used for the treatment of minor wounds and burns, sunburns, abrasions, bruises, contusions, ulcers, myalgia, and many others. Pharmacological research supports the use in these fields. Of the constituents, naphthodianthrones (e.g., hypericin) and phloroglucinols (e.g., hyperforin) have interesting pharmacological profiles, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and antimicrobial activities. In addition, hyperforin stimulates growth and differentiation of keratinocytes, and hypericin is a photosensitizer which can be used for selective treatment of nonmelanoma skin cancer. However, clinical research in this field is still scarce. Recently, sporadic trials have been conducted in wound healing, atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, and herpes simplex infections, partly with purified single constituents and modern dermatological formulations. St. John’s wort also has a potential for use in medical skin care. Composition and stability of pharmaceutical formulations vary greatly depending on origin of the plant material, production method, lipophilicity of solvents, and storage conditions, and this must be regarded with respect to practical as well as scientific purposes.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Medicine, Wound healing, Herpes simplex, Wound, St John's wort, Hypericum, Hyperforin


Hyperforin is one of the main bioactive compounds that underlie the antidepressant actions of the medicinal plant Hypericum perforatum (St. John’s wort). However, the effects of a chronic hyperforin treatment on brain cells remains to be fully addressed. The following study was undertaken to further advance our understanding of the biological effects of this plant extract on neurons. Special attention was given to its impact on the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) receptor TrkB and on adult hippocampal neurogenesis since they appear central to the mechanisms of action of antidepressants. The consequences of a chronic hyperforin treatment were investigated on cortical neurons in culture and on the brain of adult mice treated for 4 wk with a daily injection (i.p.) of hyperforin (4 mg/kg). Its effects on the expression of the cyclic adenosine monophosphate response element-binding protein (CREB), phospho-CREB (p-CREB), TrkB and phospho-TrkB (p-TrkB) were analysed by Western blot experiments and its impact on adult hippocampal neurogenesis was also investigated. Hyperforin stimulated the expression of TRPC6 channels and TrkB via SKF-96365-sensitive channels controlling a downstream signalling cascade involving Ca2+, protein kinase A, CREB and p-CREB. In vivo, hyperforin augmented the expression of TrkB in the cortex but not in the hippocampus where hippocampal neurogenesis remained unchanged. In conclusion, this plant extract acts on the cortical BDNF/TrkB pathway leaving adult hippocampal neurogenesis unaffected. This study provides new insights on the neuronal responses controlled by hyperforin. We propose that the cortex is an important brain structure targeted by hyperforin.

Concepts: Neuron, Brain, Adenosine triphosphate, Cerebral cortex, Hippocampus, Neurogenesis, St John's wort, Hyperforin


Emotional and behavioral problems in children and adolescents are no exception. To what extent a fixed plant extract combination is able to support children suffering from nervous agitation due to agitated depression among others for approximately 2 years has been investigated in a multicenter, prospective observational study (2008) with 115 children between 6 and 12 years. Assessments of the parents showed a distinct improvement in children who had attention problems, showed social withdrawal, and/or were anxious/depressive. Based on the physicians' assessment, 81.6-93.9 % of the affected children had no or just mild symptoms at the end of observation concerning nine of thirteen evaluated symptoms such as depression, school/examination anxieties, further anxieties, sleeping problems, and different physical problems. Therapeutic success was not influenced by additional medication or therapies. The treatment was well tolerated. The used plant extracts have been gained from St. John’s Wort herb, valerian root, and passionflower herb.

Concepts: Scientific method, Psychology, Medicine, Observational study, Major depressive disorder, Benzodiazepine, Medicinal plants, St John's wort


BACKGROUND: The burden of rising health care expenditures has created a demand for information regarding the clinical and economic outcomes associated with Complementary and Alternative Medicines. Clinical controlled trials have found St. John’s wort to be as effective as antidepressants in the treatment of mild to moderate depression. The objective of this study was to develop a model to assess the cost-effectiveness of St. John’s wort based on this evidence. METHODS: A Markov model was constructed to estimate health and economic impacts of St. John’s wort versus antidepressants. Outcomes were treatment costs, quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) and Net Monetary Benefits (NMB). Probabilistic analyses were conducted on key model parameters. RESULTS: The average NMB across 5000 simulations identified St. John’s wort as the strategy with the highest net benefit. The total cost savings for SJW were $359.66 and $202.56 per individual for venlafaxine and sertraline respectively, with a gain of 0.08 to 0.12 QALYs over the 72 weeks of the model. LIMITATIONS: A lack of direct comparative clinical trial data comparing SJW to venlafaxine and limited data with sertraline as a comparator was a major limitation. CONCLUSIONS: In this model, St. John’s wort was shown to be a cost-effective alternative to generic antidepressants. Patients are more likely to receive treatment for a duration consistent with professional guidelines for treatment of major depression due to reduced incidence of adverse effects, improving outcomes. This represents an important option in the treatment of Major Depressive Disorder.

Concepts: Clinical trial, Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, Major depressive disorder, Bupropion, Sertraline, Fluoxetine, Venlafaxine, St John's wort


Hypericum perforatum is, with Ginkgo biloba, one of the most frequently prescribed medicinal plants in the world. Its popular name, St. John’s wort (SJW), is due to the fact that its flowers, yellow, are gathered around the feast of St. John the Baptist (24th June) whereas “wort” is an old English word for plant. Of interest, SJW possesses antidepressant actions and is currently used to alleviate symptoms of mild to moderate depression. Nearly two dozens of bioactive compounds have been isolated from SJW. Hypericin, originally described as a monoamine oxidase inhibitor type A, was thought to be responsible for the antidepressant properties of SJW extracts. However, subsequent studies could not confirm this observation and hyperforin, a phloroglucinol derivative, was shown to display antidepressive properties. Indeed, the efficiency of the extracts of SJW has been reported to be dependent on the concentration of hyperforin. However, its effects on brain cells and on the mechanisms underlying its putative clinical antidepressant effect remain poorly characterized.

Concepts: Antidepressant, Monoamine oxidase, Venlafaxine, Monoamine oxidase inhibitor, St John's wort, Hypericum, Hyperforin, Antidepressants


Oral mucositis is a common and irritating complication of chemotherapy and radiotherapy for malignancies. Current treatments have failed to achieve complete remission of this complication. The St. John’s wort plant (Hypericum perforatum) has long been known for its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects. The current study was designed to investigate the therapeutic efficacy of the topical and systemic administration of H. perforatum extract on oral mucositis. Oral mucositis was induced in 72 male golden hamsters by administration of 5-fluorouracil (60mg/kg), on days 0, 5, and 10 of the study. The cheek pouch was scratched with a sterile needle on days 1 and 2. On days 12-17, H. perforatum extract topical gel 10%, oral H. perforatum extract (300mg/kg), and gel base groups were treated and then compared with a control group. Weights and blood samples were evaluated, biopsies from buccal lesions were examined histopathologically, and tissue malondialdehyde (MDA) was measured. Both of the H. perforatum extract treatment groups saw a significant relief in oral mucositis compared to the control and base gel groups; the systemic form was superior to the topical form. H. perforatum extract, administered orally or topically, expedited the healing of chemotherapy-induced oral mucositis in hamsters.

Concepts: Immune system, Cancer, Chemotherapy, Topical, Mucositis, St John's wort, Hyperforin, Clusiaceae


Extracts of the medicinal plant Hypericum perforatum are used to treat depression and skin irritation. A major API is hyperforin, characterized by sensitivity to light, oxygen and temperature. Total synthesis of hyperforin is challenging and its content in field-grown plants is variable. We have established in vitro cultures of auxin-induced roots, which are capable of producing hyperforin, as indicated by HPLC-DAD and ESI-MS analyses. The extraction yield and the productivity upon use of petroleum ether after solvent screening were ∼5mg/g DW and ∼50mg/L culture after six weeks of cultivation. The root cultures also contained secohyperforin and lupulones, which were not yet detected in intact plants. In contrast, they lacked another class of typical H. perforatum constituents, hypericins, as indicated by the analysis of methanolic extracts. Hyperforins and lupulones were stabilized and enriched as dicyclohexyl ammonium salts. Upon up-scaling of biomass production and downstream processing, H. perforatum root cultures may provide an alternative platform for the preparation of medicinal extracts and the isolation of APIs.

Concepts: Plant, Petroleum, Quaternary ammonium cation, Alternative medicine, Root, St John's wort, Hypericum, Hyperforin


This systematic review evaluated St. John’s wort (SJW) for the treatment of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). The objectives of this review are to (1) evaluate the efficacy and safety of SJW in adults with MDD compared to placebo and active comparator and (2) evaluate whether the effects vary by severity of MDD.

Concepts: Major depressive disorder, Dysthymia, Venlafaxine, St John's wort


Many herbal products have a long history of use, but there are increasing concerns over product efficacy, safety and quality in the wake of recent cases exposing discrepancies between labeling and constituents. When it comes to St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum L.) herbal products, there is limited oversight, frequent off-label use and insufficient monitoring of adverse drug reactions. In this study, we use amplicon metabarcoding (AMB) to authenticate 78 H. perforatum herbal products and evaluate its ability to detect substitution compared to standard methods using thin-layer chromatography (TLC) and high performance liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry (HPLC-MS). Hypericum perforatum was detected in 68% of the products using AMB. Furthermore, AMB detected incongruence between constituent species and those listed on the label in all products. Neither TLC nor HPLC-MS could be used to unambiguously identify H. perforatum. They are accurate methods for authenticating presence of the target compounds, but have limited efficiency in detecting infrageneric substitution and do not yield any information on other plant ingredients in the products. Random post-marketing AMB of herbal products by regulatory agencies could raise awareness among consumers of substitution and would provide an incentive to manufacturers to increase quality control from raw ingredients to commercialized products.

Concepts: Chromatography, High performance liquid chromatography, Adverse drug reaction, Benzodiazepine, St John's wort, Hyperforin, Authentication, Clusiaceae