Herbs for Health
Many people prefer natural herbs to traditional pills for different reasons. Firstly, such choice of medicine can be easily explained by the fact that when a patient takes a herbal remedy, he or she knows that it is natural. In fact, sometimes, the alternative medicine achieves better treatment outcomes than medical drugs. Secondly, the production of medical drugs is nearly always associated with business; therefore, pharmaceutical companies may not be interested in making patients fully healthy with their products. One of the most widely used drugs in traditional and alternative medicine is St. John’s wort, that is why its background, positive and negative aspects should be considered more closely.
St. John’s wort (the botanical name is Hypericum Perforatum) is an herb, which is licensed and widely used in medicine. The evidence of the usage of the herb in treating different illnesses and nervous disorders dates back to ancient Greece (“St. John’s wort,” n.d.). St. John’s wort grows mostly in the territory of the United States, Canada, Europe, and Australia. The herb is accepted for treatment in many countries; however, its usage is officially banned in France (“St. John’s wort,” 2015).
St. John’s wort is usually effective in treating depression, as well as conditions associated with it. These conditions include trouble sleeping, tiredness, anxiety etc. Such mood disorders as obsessive-compulsive disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and seasonal affective disorder are also partially treated with the herb. In addition, St. John’s wort helps women to cope with menopause and premenstrual syndrome by reducing the severity of emotional and physical symptoms. Moreover, skin irritation such as minor burns, eczema etc. can be relieved if a person applies the herb to the skin (“St. John’s wort,” n.d.).
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St. John’s wort is used to treat many diseases. Despite the fact that it has been proven to be ineffective against serious forms of depression, it is successfully used to improve mood during a mild depression. There is also a possibility that the herb may assist in the treatment of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, polyneuropathy, and irritable bowel syndrome; however, early research has not proven its positive effect. Nevertheless, its effectiveness is visible in the treatment of cold sore, brain tumor, cancer, migraine headache, fibromyalgia, sciatica, chronic fatigue syndrome, skin conditions, bruises, muscle pain etc. (“St. John’s wort,” 2015).
St. John’s wort includes such useful chemicals as hyperforin, hypericin, flavonoids etc. These active elements contained in the herb work highly similar to prescription antidepressants as they increase the availability of dopamine, serotonin, and other brain chemicals (“St. John’s wort,” n.d.).
The most positive result of using St. John’s wort is the absence of side effects if the herb is taken in prescribed doses and no longer than twelve weeks. However, in case of idiosyncrasy or improper use there can be serious negative side effects. The side effects of St. John’s wort include irritability, trouble sleeping, anxiety, fatigue, dizziness, stomach upset, skin rash, headache, diarrhea etc. Moreover, St. John’s wort interacts with different prescription drugs, which implies the possible insecurity of its use; therefore, if a person is pregnant, breast-feeds, or has been diagnosed with major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and ADHD he or she should not use the herb. Furthermore, it can negatively affect the results of surgery and anesthesia; in such cases, St. John’s wort should not be taken for at least two weeks before the procedure (“St. John’s wort,” 2015).
In conclusion, it is necessary to mention that despite St. John’s wort is a generally harmless herb, a person should consult a doctor before using it. Even if medical research has not proven negative side effects of the herb, there is always a threat of intolerance to this natural medication.