The twentieth century and the new millennium have seen tremendous strides of science. It has also seen a population explosion and with it several new disease entities. Among the diseases that plague this era, is ‘Mental Depression’. Mental depression is the cause of many suicides, a lot of morbidity, loss of precious man-hours in industry and a drain on already over-stretched medical resources.
Mental depression is an under-recognized aspect of Medicine. Off late, Physiologists have understood the biochemical mechanisms in the brain and more information on the neurotransmitters in the brain have resulted in the development of newer classes of Anti-depressive remedies. We have today come a long way away from Valium (Diazepam) and there are several allopathic medications for combating depression. But, the allopathic medications are not without their undesirable side effects, prohibitive cost and addictive potential. At the same time there have been few proven herbal or holistic medications, which have been investigated and proven useful in depression.
St. John’s Wort Extract is useful in depression:
WORT is an old English word for ‘plant’ and this plant is dedicated to St. John, the Baptist, because this herb blooms every year on his birthday, which falls on June 24th. This plant is known for centuries, and has been used for healing by various cultures.
The Chemical composition of the St. John’s Wort:
This herb has complex diverse, chemicals such as Hyperforins, xanthones, flavonoids, hypercins and other dianthrones.
HYPERFORINS are modulators of monoamine oxidase inhibitors in the brain and thereby act as mood enhancers. Hyperforins also exhibit potent anti-microbial activity and help in healing wounds.
XANTHONES have Serotonin boosting properties and thus decrease the Serotonin degradation and this helps in increasing feelings of happiness or pleasure.
Flavinoids act as antioxidants and exhibit anti-inflammatory properties and have anti-viral properties and this helps to bolster the immune system.
DIANTHRONES help fight viruses.
EMBELICA OFFICINALIS is a component that has anti-oxidant and cardiac tonic properties.
Indications for the St. John’s Wort extract:
- Mild to moderate depression
- Seasonal affective disorders, where subjects feel depressed during particular seasons.
- Mood regulation
- As an Immune system enhancer, antioxidant and wound healing, especially in old age.
Safety of the St. John’s Wort Extract:
This remedy is generally safe and does not interact with other medications and does not have undesirable side effects like other allopathic anti-depressants, some of which cause dryness in the mouth and even some cardiac toxicity.
- It should not be used in pregnant or lactating mothers.
- It should not be given to those taking anti-depressant medications.
- It should not be used in patients who show an increased sensitivity to sunlight, because this herb causes a darkening of the skin.
The St. John’s Wort is not the ultimate panacea for mental depression. Although, this herb is holistic in nature, it should be combined judiciously with Yoga, Pranayama, Mental relaxation techniques and proper counseling.