This innocuous little plant with its five-pointed yellow flowers
has long held a place in humanity's medicine cabinet. Ancient
Greek and Romans used it topically for wounds, and the Cherokee
of North America used it to treat fever, stomach illness and
to induce abortion. It was in Medieval Europe that the plant
earned its name.
plant's reddish saps and resins -which turn its yellow flowers
red when crushed - reminded Christians of the blood of St.
John the Baptist. Conventional wisdom held that Hypericum
harvested on his birthday, June 24th, would possess the strongest
medicinal powers. Among the many ills it was reputed to ward
off, Hypericum was most often prescribed for insanity or demonic
possession, as well as menstrual irregularities, intestinal
problems and skin conditions. Today, scientific research indicates
Hypericum can alleviate mild depression - though the mechanism
by which it works on the brain is still unknown. There is
also some evidence St. John's wort can inhibit retroviruses,
such as Herpes, in mice. It has been difficult to demonstrate
this effect in humans; however, this modern mythology has
prompted some to use the herb as a treatment for AIDS. Unfortunately,
recent studies show that Hypericum also inhibits the body's
ability to metabolize other AIDS medications.
Steven Foster, http://www.vitaminevi.com/herb/st_johns_wort.htm