Most people know St. John’s wort as a cure for depression and nervous restlessness. However, this view does not do justice to the true health potential of the medicinal plant. St. John’s wort oil in particular has long proven to be a natural remedy for various health problems. It has the advantage that it can be taken like pills or capsules, but is also suitable for external use on the skin.
St. John’s Wort Oil – Historical and Botany
For the production of St. John’s wort oil, the real St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) is used. The plant belongs to the St. John’s Herb Family (Hypericaceae) and is widely used in temperate climates. It can be found throughout Europe, parts of Asia, the Canary Islands and North Africa. His name probably goes back to John the Baptist. The annual St. John’s Day on June 24 coincides with the approximately beginning of flowering of the plant. St. John’s wort is very undemanding. It grows along road and field edges, on dry meadows and even on mountain meadows up to a height of 1500 metres. The plant grows to 50 to 60 cm tall and at the end bears bright yellow inflorescences. The flowering period extends from the end of May to late summer. A special characteristic of the plant appears when the petals are crushed. A blood-red juice emerges. It consists of hypericin, one of the active ingredients contained in St. John’s wort oil. It is also responsible for the red colouring of St. John’s wort oil after extraction. This has also earned him the name Red Oil.
Already in antiquity, preparations from different species of St. John’s wort played an important role in medicine. Their use as a cure for wound healing, for sciatica and menstrual problems and for urinary tract problems is documented in various writings. In the further course of history, the real St. John’s wort prevailed against the other species as a remedy. It also appears in many herbal books as St. John’s wort oil and is described as a cure for gastrointestinal discomfort, gout and rheumatic symptoms and liver weakness. The influence of Johanneskraut on fluctuations in mood and mood can be read for the first time around the year 790 in the “Lorscher Pharmacopoeia”. There, its intake is recommended for melancholy. This marked the beginning of the triumph of St. John’s Wort as a medicine for mental health problems. Despite many resistances and fluctuations in recognition in the medical world, it has established itself as a herbal alternative in this area to this day. This is also confirmed by its inclusion in the Pharmaceutical Code of the Pharmacists’ Associations in 1979.
However, limiting the effectiveness of St. John’s wort and its forms of application to the psychic track alone does not do justice to the active potential of the plant. St. John’s wort oil in particular is increasingly proving its worth in various ailments.
St. John’s wort oil and its active ingredients
St. John’s wort oil and other forms of application are obtained from the herb of the plant. The main uses are the shoot tips with the associated leaves, stems, open flowers, buds and flower capsules. They have a particularly high content of the following active ingredients:
- Hypericin is a so-called antichinon and is mainly responsible for the red colouring of the flower juice and St. John’s wort oil
- phenols (plant dyes), as an effective main representative of the hyperforin
- flange dyes such as xanthon, flavonin and other flavonoids
- Essential oils. Do not confuse them with the complex St. John’s wort oil
During the extraction of the plant parts for the production of St. John’s wort oil, a substrate is produced that contains all the listed active ingredients in different amounts. It can be called a full spectrum preparation that unfolds its effect on the basis of all substances contained. To date, not all active ingredients of St. John’s wort oil have been sufficiently studied. Previous research has focused on the importance of hypericin and hyperforin in the treatment of mental health problems. Statements on the medical efficacy of St. John’s wort oil as a whole are therefore generally based on the numerous testimonies of users and expellents. On the basis of this knowledge, the following effects in the organism can be described for the different essences of St. John’s wort oil.
Hypericin has an inhibitory effect on dopamine metabolism. It prevents dopamine from being converted into the stress hormone norepinephrine. This results in a relaxing effect, which together with the hyperforin can contribute to the reduction of depression. In high dosage, hypericin can be phototoxic. Direct exposure to the sun can lead to symptoms of poisoning on the skin.
The hyperforin also contained in St. John’s wort oil is significantly more active than hypericin and is therefore considered to be the main active ingredient in depression. It prevents the resumption of various transmitters that are active in stress and escape reactions. These are the hormones serotonin and norepinephrine and the messenger substances GABA (GammaAminoButterIc Acid), glutamic acid and L-glutamate. The inhibition of their release from the synaptic gap interferes with the regulatory processes through the vegetative nervous system. The influence of the sympathetic is reduced and the relaxing and calming effect of the parasympathetic is promoted. The effects of hyperforin can be supported and amplified by hypericin.
St. John’s wort oil contains plant dyes such as flavones and flavonoids. They are pharmacologically important because of their antioxidant effect. Because of this property, they are involved in various processes that are important for the health of the organism.
The essential oils in St. John’s wort oil belong to the secondary plant substances. They are made up of different components, are fat soluble and have three primary tasks in the plants. As flavouring substances, they can be used to attract pollinating insects or to ward off predators. They also protect the plant from disease. Dissolved in St. John’s wort oil, they support the calming effect on the nervous system and promote regeneration in case of skin problems.
Manufacture of St. John’s wort oil
St. John’s wort oil is, as already described, an extract from the leaves. Stems, flowers and buds of the plants. It contains all the drugs presented in different amounts. Thus, it can be called full spectrum oil, which derives its effects from the overall composition. The summation of the various components of St. John’s wort oil gives it a very great health potential. The most gentle method to obtain this full-fledged extract is water vapour distillation. For this purpose, the collected plant parts are crushed and draped with a basket over a container of boiling water. The volatile substances are dissolved by the rising water vapor. This mixture is fed into a special collecting device. In the cooler environment, the water vapor condenses and a liquid extract of water and plant active ingredients is produced. This mixture, also known as hydrolaslate, is the precursor of St. John’s wort oil. In a further step, the water components are finally removed. What remains is the finished St. John’s wort oil with many active ingredients. In addition to hypericin, hyperforin, plant dyes and essential oils, these include tanning and bitter substances, as well as oils and choline. This mixture of various highly effective substances is ultimately responsible for the wide range of applications of St. John’s wort oil. The principle also applies that the overall effect is more than the sum of the individual parts. The various active ingredients of St. John’s wort oil supplement and strengthen in part and thus achieve a higher efficiency in their entirety.
The effect of the ingredients of St. John’s wort oil
- St. John’s wort oil can be used for internal or external use. This allows it to develop its effects both in internal organs and tissues as well as on the skin. Despite the different application and the different target tissues, the effects are similar in many cases. The following list lists the effects and active substance of St. John’s wort oil.
- The tannins contained in St. John’s wort oil play an important role in pain relief, the regulation of inflammatory processes and wound healing. They have an astringent effect. This means that wound edges, burn damage or open tissue surfaces are closed more quickly. This reduces pain, reduces the inflammatory process and accelerates wound healing.
- The plant dyes in St. John’s herb oil have antioxidant effects in the blood and tissue. They reduce the free radicals that accumulate during metabolism and thereby regulate the environment in the cells. This has positive effects on blood circulation and metabolism. It also contributes to pain relief and inflammation inhibition.
- Bitter substances contained in St. John’s wort oil increase the production of bile and stomach acid. As a result, they have an appetizing and digestive effect. The choline also contained in St. John’s wort oil supports this effect by emulsifying the dietary fats and making them easier to use. In addition, it is involved in other vital processes. It is essential for the construction of cell membranes and therefore important for wound healing processes. It also provides the precursors for the production of acetylcholine, which is responsible for the transmission of stimuli in the nervous system and onto the muscles. Another important task of choline in St. John’s wort oil is the relief of the liver and the improvement of its detoxification function.
- Hyperforin and hypericin are the active ingredients in St. John’s wort oil that have the most extensive functional spectrum. They can intervene in the hormonal balance by inhibiting the transmission of signals from stress hormones and other transmitters in various ways. As a result, they have a direct effect on mood and can even positively affect mental illnesses. Both active ingredients of St. John’s wort oil have an agonistic effect in these processes. According to the current state of knowledge, however, Hyperforin seems to be the dominant partner of action. The hormone modulating influence also contributes to strengthening the immune system by strengthening the parasympathetic system. In addition, the two substances of St. John’s wort oil promote circulation, anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antibacterial effects. Hypericin can cause highly dosed phototoxic reactions on the skin. Under the influence of sunlight, it has a toxic effect and causes massive inflammatory irritations.
- The essential oils in St. John’s wort oil support the effects of hypericin and hyperforin. They calm the mood and the vegetative nervous system. In addition, the essential substances in St. John’s wort oil contribute to the regulation of the hormone balance and the immune system.
Applications of St. John’s wort oil
The range of applications of St. John’s wort oil is enormous. It includes discomfort and diseases of the internal organs, the psyche and the skin. St. John’s wort oil can also be used promisingly for systemic diseases from the rheumatic circle of forms or the immune system. Another area of application is health problems resulting from hormonal changes.
St. John’s wort oil for mental illnesses and upsets
Johanneskraut has long been known and recognized as an effective medicine for depression and depressive conditions. Scientific studies also prove its effectiveness in comparison to pharmaceutically produced drugs. The drugs from Johanneskraut contain the active ingredients hyperforin and hypericin in high dosage and are therefore partially subject to prescription. The content of these active ingredients is significantly lower in St. John’s wort oil. Therefore, its effect must not be equated with that of specific medicines. Nevertheless, St. John’s wort oil can be very helpful for depressive moods, anxiety, inner restlessness and stress. It lifts the mood, calms and relaxes and makes you more relaxed. These are good conditions for being able to cope better with the daily stresses. On the other hand, these effects of St. John’s wort oil can also help to think about the causing factors of psychological stress and to initiate steps for change.
St. John’s wort oil for sleep disorders
Sleep disturbances can have various causes. Permanent stress, severe psychological stress and insufficient balance often play an important role. Similar to mental disorders, St. John’s wort oil can also be very helpful for sleep disorders. Taken just before bed, it promotes the release of the sleep hormone melatonin. This makes it easier to fall asleep, prolongs the deep sleep phases and promotes sleep.
St. John’s wort oil for discomfort and gastrointestinal disorders
St. John’s wort oil can be used both externally and internally for gastrointestinal complaints. Ingested drops can retrieve their entire spectrum of action inside the digestive tract. Heartburn and irritation or inflammation of the gastric and intestinal mucosa are combated and the attacked organ walls are calmed. As a result, the food pulp and in the large intestine of the stool can be transported smoothly again. This reduces the risk of constipation and diarrhea and helps to maintain the healthy intestinal flora. This effect is supported by the antiviral and antibacterial effects of St. John’s wort oil. It also prevents disease-causing germs that enter the tissue from the intestines from spreading in the organism. Abdominal pain is also alleviated by the ingested drops. A light massage around the navel with some St. John’s wort oil supports the pain-reducing effect from the outside.
Applications of St. John’s wort oil on the skin
The applications of St. John’s wort oil on the skin are very diverse. They range from large-scale and general applications to very specific treatments for injuries and skin diseases.
St. John’s wort oil for massage
If you want to do something really good to your skin, subcutaneous connective tissue and muscles, you should treat yourself to a massage with St. John’s wort oil. It promotes blood circulation, has a very relaxing and antispasmodic effect and refines the skin. These properties predestined St. John’s wort oil not only for feel-good massages, but also for targeted treatments after sports or other physical exertion. Massages are a large-scale application of St. John’s wort oil. Therefore, the phototoxic potential should be taken into account. After use, they should not expose the treated body parts to direct sunlight. It is also recommended not to perform massages with St. John’s wort oil daily.
You can also apply the oil in the form of a small self-massage on the face and in the area of the neck and décolleté. Your skin will thank you for this affection with St. John’s wort oil with a relaxed, smooth and supple appearance.
St. John’s wort oil for skin injuries and irritation
St. John’s wort oil has long proven to be a remedy for skin damage. It unfolds its spectrum of action regardless of the size of the affected area. Specific or local injuries such as a stab or cut benefit just as much from the positive effects as large-scale damage in abrasions and burns. St. John’s wort oil promotes and accelerates the entire healing process. Wounds are closed faster by the tannins, pain is reduced and the necessary inflammatory process is economized. At the same time, blood circulation and metabolism are promoted in order to transport building materials more quickly to the damaged tissue and to eliminate degradation products. This further pushes the healing process. St. John’s wort oil can also be used for scar treatment after healing. It relaxes the scar tissue and makes it more supple again. This has a positive effect on function and optics. The tissue becomes more movable due to the treatment with St. John’s wort oil and the scar shrinks.
St. John’s wort oil for skin changes and skin diseases
The circulation-promoting effect of St. John’s wort oil is particularly noticeable in people who suffer from dry skin. Long-term use, it can also contribute to the elimination of skin impurities, which play a role in the development of acne and pimples.
Special skin diseases in which St. John’s wort oil can have a beneficial and soothing effect are psoriasis and neurodermatitis. Although both diseases have different causes, they are similar in some respects. They go along with inflammatory processes and cause unpleasant and annoying itching. The anti-inflammatory and analgesic effect of St. John’s wort oil can play a decisive role in alleviating these symptoms and improving the appearance of the skin. Since both diseases are due to disorders of the immune system, regular intake of St. John’s wort oil can support the external effect.
St. John’s wort oil in phases of hormonal conversion
As already described, St. John’s wort oil can interfere with the hormone balance. Women can take advantage of this mode of action if they suffer from consequences of hormonal change. These can be, for example, depression or depressive phases during pregnancy or after childbirth, but also during menopause. St. John’s wort oil with its antidepressant potential can help women to survive these phases well. However, pregnant women should consult with the doctor before taking it. Excessive lyrise oil can have an adverse effect on the development of the embryo.
Intake and dosage of St. John’s wort oil
The external application of St. John’s wort oil depends on the size of the skin area to be treated. The dosage when taking drops is not specified. It depends on individual effectiveness. Basically, a dose of 300 to 2000 mg St. John’s wort oil is possible daily without side effects. As a rule of thumb, taking 850 mg per day has proven its worth. This equates to about three tablespoons of St. John’s wort oil distributed throughout the day. In the further course, the dose can be adapted to individual needs.
The effect of St. John’s wort oil does not occur immediately after ingestion. It usually takes two to three weeks for the processes initiated by the active ingredients to show success.