Johannis herbs: Uses, medicine, Synonyms, Effects, and Side Effects

Johannis herbs: Uses, medicine, Synonyms, Effects, and Side Effects

St. John’s wort is native to Europe and Asia and has been naturalized as a weed in Australia, South Africa and North America. The drug used for medical purposes now comes mainly from cultivation areas in Germany, Eastern Europe and Chile.

John’s wort as a medicine

The plant’s dried, flowering aerial parts (Hyperici herba) are used for medicinal purposes.


Special features of St. John’s wort

St. John’s wort is a perennial, herbaceous plant, about 60 cm high, with opposite leaves. The plant’s Latin name, Hypericum perforatum, is based on the translucent dotted appearance of the leaves (Latin “perforatum”). The name Hypericum derives from the fact that St. John’s wort was formerly placed above images of gods to protect against spirits (from the Greek hyper = over, eikon = image).

The dots on the leaves are oil glands found in the 5-petalled, golden-yellow flowers. If you rub the flowers or buds between your fingers, they turn red.

Blossom on St. John’s Day

The German name Johanniskraut is meant to commemorate St. John’s Day, the birthday of John the Baptist. On June 24th, the herb is in its most beautiful bloom.

The golden-yellow to yellow-brown flowers, some of which contain numerous dark dots or lines, are particularly striking. When flowering, the sepals are pointed and about twice as long as the ovary.


Other components of the drug

Other drug components are the light green, egg-shaped, entire leaves, which can be up to 3.5 cm long. You can see the translucent dotted pattern. Yellow-green, hollow stalks are also found in the drug.

St. John’s wort spreads a slightly aromatic smell. The taste of the herb is bitter and slightly astringent.

  1. John’s wort – application

John’s wort can be used internally or externally. When used internally, it mainly affects the psyche. The herb is taken for psycho-vegetative disorders, mild depression, mood swings, anxiety and nervous restlessness. Oily preparations can also be used internally for indigestion.

External use of St. John’s wort

Externally, St. John’s wort preparations are mainly applied to heal wounds. Oily preparations are suitable for the treatment of: 

  • wounds
  • sharp and blunt puncture wounds
  • abrasions
  •  First degree burns

St. John’s wort can also be used externally to treat muscle pain (myalgia). According to studies, oily herb preparations also have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and blood circulation-promoting effects.

Animal experiments have shown that St. John’s wort can lower body temperature caused by stress or emotions.


John’s work in folk medicine

John’s wort has a long tradition in folk medicine. It was used early on as a remedy for melancholy and burns and, for a long time, was also considered a remedy for evil sorcery.

In today’s folk medicine, the herb is used for inflammation of the gastric mucosa (gastritis) and diseases of the gallbladder, and externally, for treating burns.

Homeopathic use of St. John’s wort

In homoeopathic medicine, St. John’s wort is used for diseases of the central and peripheral nervous system, complaints related to the heart or circulation, diseases of the lower respiratory tract and injuries. The plant is also an essential remedy in anthroposophic therapy.


  1. John’s wort ingredients

Essential active ingredients in St. John’s wort are the so-called hypericins, which occur in a proportion of 0.1-0.3%. The plant has the highest content of hypericines at the time of fully developed flowering.

In addition, St. John’s wort contains phloroglycine derivatives such as hyperforin, flavonoids, large amounts of tannins, xanthones and essential oil.

  1. John’s wort – for which indications is it suitable?

Indications where St. John’s wort can help are:

  • psycho vegetative disorders
  • Depression
  • mood swings
  • Angst
  • restlessness
  • nervousness
  • indigestion
  • wounds
  • stab wound
  • abrasions
  • burns
  • Burns
  • Muscle aches
  • Gastritis
  1. John’s wort – dosage

St. John’s wort is used orally in the form of cut drug, drug powder, or solid and liquid preparations. For external use, liquid and semi-solid preparations are suitable.

By extracting the flowers with fatty oils such as olive, sunflower or wheat germ oil, you can obtain locust oil, which can be used externally or internally.

  1. John’s wort as an extract and tea

The drug can also be crushed and made into an extract with a mixture of water and methanol. If the ingredients have dissolved after several hours, they can be separated from the extract and processed into capsules or tablets.

Dry extracts are contained in numerous mono-preparations.

Even if the application in tea is no longer recommended, there are numerous tea-only preparations (“St. John’s wort tea”).


What dose?

The average daily dose for internal use is 2-4 g of the drug or 0.2-1.0 mg of total hypericin in other dosage forms.

  1. John’s wort: Preparation as a tea

To prepare tea, pour boiling water over 2-4 g of the finely chopped drug (1 teaspoon corresponds to about 1.8 g) and pass through a tea strainer after 5-10 minutes.

However, tea preparation is no longer recommended today due to the strongly fluctuating concentrations of the ingredients. The side effects of long-term use should also be taken into account.


Important notes on use

There are currently no known contraindications. However, please note the exchange and side effects listed.

The effect of St. John’s wort usually only occurs after 2-3 weeks; a lasting effect is only achieved after 3-6 months. St. John’s wort preparations should, therefore, be continued early, taking into account the side effects and interactions.

John’s wort should be stored dry and protected from light.

John’s wort – synonyms

German plant name: Johannis herbs

German synonyms of the plant: St. John’s wort, standard St. John’s wort, spotted St. John’s wort, blood herb, field hop herb, Jesus’ sore herb, wound herb, Walpurgis herb, witches’ herb, ragwort, Konrad’s herb, lady’s herb, Lord’s blood, Gartheil, Hartenaue, Hartheu, Jageteufel, St. John’s blood, St. John’s wort, man’s power, sols-wort herb, devil’s flight, Alf blood.

Latin plant name: St. John’s wort L.

Latin synonyms of the plant: Hypericum officinarum, Hypericum officinale, Hypericum vulgare

German drug name: Johannis herbs

German synonyms of the drug: See above

Latin drug name: Hyperici herba

Latin synonyms of the drug: St. John’s wort, St. John’s wort, St. John’s wort with flower, St. John’s wort

English name: St John’s wort, Amber, Aron’s bread, Common St John’s wort, Saint John’s Wort, Perforate St John’s Wort, Goatweed, Hardhay, Hypericum, Klamath weed, Tipton weed, Tipton’s Weed

Plant family Latin: Hypericaceae (=Guttiferae)

Plant family German: St. John’s wort or Hartheus family


  1. John’s wort-effect

The active ingredients contained in St. John’s wort have a variety of effects on the human nervous system. Hyperforin, in particular, influences the nervous system to restore the balance of the messenger substances in the brain

   2. John’s wort: effect on mood

The mood-lifting, anxiolytic and antidepressant effect of St. John’s wort is based on an increase in the concentration of certain messenger substances, such as dopamineserotonin and noradrenaline, which are released in the brain to a lesser extent in depressive moods.

Hyperforin inhibits the re-absorption of these substances in the nerve endings, which means that they are available again more quickly or can have a lasting effect. Hypericin, flavonoids and xanthones also inhibit serotonin breakdown, increasing the effect.

With long-term use, St. John’s wort can regulate the nervous metabolism.


Other effects of St. John’s wort

Other components of the herb have a growth-inhibiting effect on bacteria. The faster wound healing caused by St. John’s wort is probably due to the tannins it contains. These lead to a densification of the tissue surfaces, which makes it more difficult for pathogens to penetrate and the wounds to heal faster.

St John’s Wort Side Effects

In light-skinned people, sunburn-like reactions are possible when sunbathing, especially when taking high doses of St. John’s wort. In rare cases, allergic reactions such as itching, skin swelling, restlessness, tiredness, or even gastrointestinal problems occur.


Interactions with other drugs

St. John’s wort increases the activity of a specific liver enzyme responsible for breaking down various drugs. Taking St. John’s wort can, therefore, lead to increased degradation and thus reduced effect of various immunosuppressive drugs (e.g. cyclosporine), HIV drugs, drugs used to treat cancer ( cytostatics ), heart drugs (digoxin) and many others.

Conversely, St. John’s wort can also increase the effect of various other medicines, such as antidepressants or anaesthetics.

  1. John’s wort and the pill

The increased breakdown of some medicines for hormonal contraception (the pill) is also fundamental. If St. John’s wort and the pill are taken at the same time and the pill becomes ineffective as a result, the risk of unwanted pregnancies is increased.


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