QUESTION : Where would I search for the chemical
or pharmaceutical properties and possible side effects of
St. Johnswort (which is presently being marketed as a mild
antidepressant). There are European educational institutions
that research plant properties, but I have no capability
to connect to them on my computer. I have not found a university
site in Texas that could supply the answer. Can you guide
ANSWER :There's St John's Wort and there's St John's
Wort. It, in one species (Hypericum patulum Henryi), is
a common landscape plant here in South Texas. However, I
do not think that this is the species that is gaining standing
for its herbal use.
The species used for treating depression, according to the
article found at this web site (http://www.botanical.com/botanical/article/stjohn.html)
is Hypericum perforatum.
More information on the medicinal uses of St John's Wort
can be found at this web site:
There this is found: St. John's Wort Botanical: Hypericum
perforatum (LINN.) Family: N.O. Hypericaceae ???Description???A
herbaceous perennial growing freely wild to a height of
1 to 3 feet in uncultivated ground, woods, hedges, roadsides,
and meadows; short, decumbent, barren shoots and erect stems
branching in upper part, glabrous; leaves pale green, sessile,
oblong, with pellucid dots or oil glands which may be seen
on holding leaf to light. Flowers bright cheery yellow in
terminal corymb. Calyx and corolla marked with black dots
and lines; sepals and petals five in number; ovary pear?shaped
with three long styles. Stamens in three bundles joined
by their bases only. Blooms June to August, followed by
numerous small round blackish seeds which have a resinous
smell and are contained in a three?celled capsule; odor
peculiar, terebenthic; taste bitter, astringent and balsamic.
There are many ancient superstitions regarding this herb.
Its name Hypericum is derived from the Greek and means 'over
an apparition,' a reference to the belief that the herb
was so obnoxious to evil spirits that a whiff of it would
cause them to fly.
Medicinal Action and Uses - Aromatic, astringent,
resolvent, expectorant and nervine. Used in all pulmonary
complaints, bladder troubles, in suppression of urine, dysentery,
worms, diarrhoea, hysteria and nervous depression, haemoptysis
and other hemorrhages and jaundice. For children troubled
with incontinence of urine at night an infusion or tea given
before retiring will be found effectual; it is also useful
in pulmonary consumption, chronic catarrh of the lungs,
bowels or urinary passages. Externally for fomentations
to dispel hard tumors, caked breasts, ecchymosis, etc.
Preparations and Dosages-1 OZ. of the herb should
be infused in a pint of water and 1 to 2 tablespoonsful
taken as a dose. Fluid extract, ½ to 1 drachm.
The oil of St. John's Wort is made from the flowers infused
in olive oil.
Here is a write-up which is on the InterNet at: www.hypericum.com
Hypericum is Hypericum perforatum, also known as St. John's
wort (St. John the Baptist). It is a short, yellow?flowering,
wild?growing plant??healing herb to some; troublesome weed
to others. It has a 2,400?year history of safe and effective
usage in folk, herbal, and ancient medicine. Hypericum was
prescribed as medicine by Hippocrates.
A series of recent double?blind, placebo?controlled studies
indicate that a specific extract of Hypericum perforatum
was as effective as prescription anti?depressants but had
far fewer side effects (thus available without a prescription
for the treatment of mild to moderate depression) and cost
considerably less??about 25 cents a day.
In Germany, more than fifty percent of depression, anxiety,
and sleep disorders are treated with hypericum. Prozac has
Although many extracts are available containing St. John's
wort, only a handful of companies.
For more complete information on hypericum, you can read
the complete text of the book Hypericum & Depression.
Hypericum, a Natural in Battling Depression
By M.A.J. McKenna, c. 1997 Cox News Service
More than 12 million people in the United States are
believed to have clinical depression-not a mild case of
the blues, but a serious chemical imbalance of the brain.
More than 7 million of them take the well?known antidepressant
medications Prozac, Paxol, Zoloft and Effexor. Most have
great success with those drugs. But a certain percentage
pay a price in side effects: insomnia, weight gain, loss
That suffering is completely unnecessary, say a prominent
psychiatrist. An alternative exists that is free of side
effects, doesn't require a prescription and, as a bonus,
costs just pennies a day.
The catch: The alternative is a plant, Hypericum perforatum,
whose common name is St. John's wort. And American medicine,
expert at devising top?flight synthetic pharmaceuticals,
has never been overly friendly to the botanical sources
from which they came.
It is past time, says Dr. Harold Bloomfield, for that
A Yale psychiatrist and author of the 1994 best seller "How
to Heal Depression", Bloomfield has co?written a book
in praise of the herb. In "Hypericum & Depression"
(Prelude Press, $19.95), he explains the abundant European
research literature, history and use of the plant, a yellow?flowering
ground cover that is common in the Western United States.
"I have had wonderful results with it", Bloomfield
said. "It is not a panacea. But I would say it is one
additional antidepressant??a very novel one, and for many
people an excellent one".
His opinion is shared by the authors of the 13 placebo?controlled
German studies, involving hundreds of people, that found
hypericum lifted mood and improved outlook without causing
serious side effects. That was confirmed by a recent article
in the British Medical Journal which said the herb's side
effects are "rare and mild".
Proponents of botanical medicine argue that herbs make superior
treatments because they contain a number of active ingredients.
In the case of hypericum, that appears to be true: the plant
contains hypericin, an antidepressant compound; flavonoids,
which boost the immune system; and chemicals that may reduce
inflammation and combat viruses and bacteria. Its main effect
seems to be the same as that of Prozac and its cousins;
all lengthen the amount of time that the naturally produced
chemical serotonin remains active in the brain. Low serotonin
levels have been linked to depression, and high ones to
tranquility and well?being; drugs that increase the compound's
availability are called "serotonin reuptake inhibitors".
(It also mimics the action of a second class of drugs called
monoamine oxidase inhibitors.
Hypericum is not problem free, and its cheapness and availability
shouldn't be considered a license to experiment. Anyone
who takes prescription drugs for depression must discuss
the herb with their physician first. Stopping antidepressants
abruptly can cause serious reactions.
So can combining hypericum with prescription antidepressants;
because the herb mimics the action of several types of drugs,
beginning an herbal regimen while weaning off synthetics
carries the risks of a double dose. Also, high doses of
hypericum cause severe sun sensitivity in animals. That
could make the herb risky for anyone taking photosensitizing
drugs such as tetracycline and chlorpromazine.
Nevertheless, awareness of it is already rising. "It's
one of those underground herbs that's emerging into the
mainstream", said Rick Kraus, owner of Health Unlimited
in Atlanta. "It's not useful for every variety of depression;
some conditions do better with other herbs. But for some
people, it's a phenomenal anti?
(M.A.J. McKenna writes for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.)
(The Cox web site is at http://www.coxnews.com)
ST. JOHN'S WORT HYPERICUM PERFORATUM
PART USED: HERB
Antidepressant, Antiseptic, Antiviral, Aromatic, Astringent,
Diuretic (weak) & Anti-enuretic, Pectoral, Resolvent,
Nervine, Topically also as mild analgesic.
(use topical & systemic) Neuralgia, especially if
associated with injury, sciatica, spinal pains or inflammation,
ANY injury involving nerve damage, nightmares, depression.
Colds associated with corona viruses (but not rhinovirus,
coughs, all lower respiratory disorders including haemoptysis,
chronic lung catarrh, T.B., Cytomegalovirus.
Affections of urinary passages (highly esteemed), enuresis
SKIN & LYMPH:
(use topical & systemic) Wounds, especially if septic
&/or in areas of nerve concentration as fingers &
toes, boils, lymphangitis (typically associated streptococci),
cellulitis, ulcers, rashes of nervous origin, hard swellings,
ecchymosis(bruises), vesicles of HSV types 1 & 2, H.
Varicella (Chickenpox), H. Zoster (Shingles), Poxviruses
(Small Pox epithelial lesions, etc.), Rubella virus (German
HEPATIC:HBV, BUT not HAV (type "A" Hepatitis)
(topical & systemic) Fibrositis, associated strain or
trauma to ligament.
Disorders involving intestinal catarrh, dysentery &
diarrhea, hemorrhoids (topical & systemic).
Other enveloped viruses included Orthomyxoviruses (flu types
A,B & C), Paramyxovirus (Para?influenza types 1-4 &
Mumps), Retroviruses that cause some types of neoplasia
& A.I.D.S., Togaviruses; Bunyaviruses, Arenaviruses,
& Rhabdovirus (Rabies).
Pharmacy & Posology
Preparation Relative Strength single Dose Weekly Dose
Dried 2.5 -5 g/day 17-35 g
Tincture1: 5 45% alc 2-8 ml tds 40-170 ml
F.E.1:1 45% alc 2-4 ml tds 40-85 ml Also Topical: as oil,
ointment or cream
Definitely NOT contraindicated for depression (old editions
of BHP are WRONG as they say it is not used during depression).
In some individuals prolonged duration of high dose may
cause skin photosensitivity.
All pulmonary complaints, bladder trouble, dysentery, diarrhea,
depression, jaundice, cancer.
Sources for Hypericum perforatum:
P O Box 1330
Flowery Branch, GA 30542
Louisville, KY 40252
Far North Gardens
Livonia, MI 48154
Seeds of Change
P O Box 15700
Santa Fe, NM 87506?5700
Wrenwood of Berkley Springs
Rt 4 Box 361
Berkeley Springs, WV 25400
QUESTION : Which species of oak is the best for making
ANSWER : The four species listed in Robert Vines'
"Trees, shrubs, and woody vines of the southwest"
as having barrel and/or cooperage value include:
Pin Oak, Quercus palustris Muenchh.
White Oak, Quercus alba L.
Swamp White Oak, Quercus bicolor Willd.
Swamp Chestnut Oak, Quercus prinus L.
You may also want to check with the following web site
which is a large supplier of oak casks.
QUESTION :I've got several persimmon trees (Hachiya
and Fuyu) which are producing so much fruit they are pulling
the branches down, and in one case, breaking it. Should
I be trimming the branches back every winter to try to get
more of the growing strength back into the limb? Other ideas?
ANSWER :Some simple pruning to reduce the potential
crop load would be a good way to deal with the situation.
However, even when this is done, you may still have to physically
remove some of the fruit. Thinning is critical in most fruit
crops to reduce limb breakage, increase fruit size and most
importantly insure crop set the next year.
QUESTION : I bought a pothos plant two months ago
and am now having a problem with the tips of the leaves
turning black. Please let me know how I can stop this.
ANSWER :Pothos are sturdy indoor plants for areas
of moderate to low light, rarely suffering from insect or
disease problems. Therefore, the tips of the leaves turning
black is probably due to watering or fertilization problems.
Let's look at the possibilities. Pothos need to be grown
in a well drained soil mix that is allowed to dry to the
touch before watering. Blackening of the leaf margins or
tips is a very common response to over watering. Determine
the frequency of watering by the feel of the soil rather
than the day of the week.
Leaf tip or margin discoloration also occurs if a pothos
is grown under severe stress of very dry soil with inadequate
watering. In either case, the discoloration may be accompanied
by leaves becoming yellow.
If the leaf color is good, except for the blackening of
the tips, over fertilization may be the cause. As with other
foliage plants grown in containers, pothos can benefit from
the application of a liquid fertilizer mixed and applied
according to package directions during periods of new growth.
Do not fertilize during the winter when the pothos is not
actively growing. Excess fertilizer could cause leaf tip
discoloration due to the buildup of salts, which are fertilizer
residues, in the soil.
If you have fertilized more often than necessary, the first
thing to do, of course, is to cut back on the frequency
or the amount of fertilization. Leach the excess fertilizer
out of the soil so that no further damage will be done.
To do this, place the plant in the sink or tub and water
it until water flows copiously through the holes in the
bottom of the pot. Repeat this watering five or six times
over the next few hours. This heavy watering should not
cause overwatering problems since the soil is then allowed
to dry to the touch before the next regular watering.
QUESTION : Someone gave me a poinsettia (sorry bout
the spelling) last Christmas and the darn thing is still
alive. It stayed red till June or JULY. It fell off the
shelf 2 or 3 times and I stuck it back in the pot. Don't
think I can kill it... My question is what do I do to get
it to turn red for Christmas?
ANSWER :Most of the modern-day (purchased within
the past 3 years) poinsettias are plants that do not show
a photoperiodic response as did the older varieties which
were sold. Using the old varieties of poinsettias, we used
to tell folks that these plants demand at least 12 hours
of absolute darkness each evening to bloom. This requirement
was supplied, starting October 1, by slipping a light-tight
box over the plant at 5:00 p.m. and keeping it in place
until 8 a.m. This provided a "night" that is 15
hours in length -more than enough to induce flower bud formation.
However, it is not necessary to do this any more --- your
last year's poinsettia will begin to color in mid- to -
late December. Keep the faith!