The St. John’s wort has been recently one of the most popular therapeutic means that may be easily found in health food stores in various forms, such as capsules, liquid extracts, oils,ointments and others. The St. John’s wort is not, however, a new pharmaceutical aid. The herb has a long and particular background as an antidepressant, anti-septic, anti-inflammatory,expectorant and tonic for the immune system, used for its alleviating properties. In fact, some of the previous reports on the herb’s use originate from the Greek herbalist of the 1st AD century,Pedanios Dioskourides, as well as from his contemporary physicians, respectively Greek and Roman, Galinos and Plenius. In the treatise, Paracelsus (1493–1541 AD), the famous Swiss alchemist and physician,has been also mentioned to be using the St. John’s wort. The historians consider that the name of the St. John’s wort was given to it by the first Christians, who noticed that the plant blossomson about the 24th of June, the Saint John’s-the Baptist’s birthday, who was decapitated. In our times, and mainly in the USA, the UK and Germany, the St. John’s wort has been extensively usedfor the treatment of mild and moderate depression. According to researchers, the St. John’s wort has an action equivalent to amitryptilline, fluoxetine and maprotiline, and is clearly more activethan placebo. Experimental protocols have been also in progress on the St. John’s wort therapeutic action against diseases of our times, such as cancer, AIDS and hepatitis. According to what iswidely supported, the St. John’s wort is considered as bridge between the conventional and the alternative medicine. The St. John’s wort pharmacodynamics as well as pharmacokinetics have beenalso extensively studied. The probable mechanism of the St. John’s wort action is the suspension of monoaminoxidase (MAO) and the suspended reuptake of serotonine. Using the St. John’s wort weopen the wide sphere of natural therapies. Such an extended approach may lead us to an increasing evaluation of our natural sources. Preserving what we have and renewing what we have destroyedis our only hope for the future of humanity, our planet and all the living organisms.
Key words: St. John's wort, depression, antiquity, Dioscurides, serotonine
C.I. Istikoglou, V. Mavreas, G. Geroulanos (page 332) - Full article