History of Hypericum (St. John’s Wort)


Hypericum or St. John’s Wort is used widely because of the perception that is a safer, ‘natural’ antidepressant. The Latin name Hypericum derives 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 depart the premises quickly.

The name ‘St. John’s Wort’ has its origin in Christian folk traditions. One belief held that red spots appeared on the leaves during the anniversary of St. John’s beheading and symbolized his blood.

St. John’s Wort was first mentioned in Roman times by Pliny the Elder in the 1st century AD. Around the same times, Diascorides, a Roman army doctor born in Greece recommended the imbibition of St. John’s Wort with special liquids ‘to expel many choleric excrements’.

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Diascorides recommended the herb for a host of ailments, including sciatica and for the treatment of poisonous reptile bites.

Over 1,000 years later, the famous German physician Paracelsus was one of the first to mention St. John Wort as are remedy to treat mental disturbances and also other disease.

The modern history of St. John’s Wort extract probably began in 1984, when Commission E of the former German Federal Health Agency, which was determining recommendations for the use of herbal drugs, published a positive monograph about St, John’s Wort, recommending it use for psychoautonomic disturbances, depressed mood, nervousness and anxiety.
History of Hypericum (St. John’s Wort)

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