Is St. John's Wort for Warts? - Aspire Natural Health

Is St. John’s Wort for Warts?

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I recently had someone ask me if St. John’s Wort was for warts? “After all,” they said, “it has wart right in the name.” An innocent mistake.

What is St. John’s Wort? (Latin name Hypericum perfoliatum)

St. John’s Wort is a bushy plant with yellow flowers. The sap of St. John’s Wort is blood red, and was therefore used in medieval times for healing cuts, scrapes and wounds (it was also called Woundwort ).

Why is it called St. John’s Wort?

St John’s because the plant flowers around the feast of St. John which is June 24th. Wort which is the Old English word for plant, especially one that was used for food or medicine.

What does it do?

  1. Wound healing – as mentioned above St. John’s Wort was traditionally used for healing wounds. Infused in oil (like olive oil) it turns the oil bright red. Applied to the skin it speeds the healing of wounds. At high doses, and in some sensitive people, it can make skin more sun sensitive. I’ve only seen this on people taking very high doses or using the essential oil. Still if you’ve never taken St. John’s Wort before you should be cautious when you first go out in the sun as you may burn more easily.
  2. Anti-viral – St. John’s Wort started to come to popular attention in the early days of HIV when people were searching for any effective anti-viral treatment. My experience with St. John’s Wort is that it has mild anti-viral properties. I tend to use other herbs and nutrients for dealing with viral infections and if I use St. John’s Wort it is only in a combination formula.
  3. Anti-depressant – while St. John’s Wort did not prove very effective in combating HIV, an interesting side effect was noticed, depressed HIV patients started feeling much better. An entirely new use was found for this ancient herb, as an anti-depressant. A Cochrane review of the available studies for St. John’s Wort found, “The available evidence suggests that the Hypericum [St. John’s Wort] extracts tested in the included trials a) are superior to placebo in patients with major depression; b) are similarly effective as standard antidepressants; and c) have fewer side-effects than standard antidepressants.” In bottom line terms  it works as well as anti-depressants and has many fewer side effects.

Herb-Drug Interactions

There is a lot of concern in the conventional community about how herbs and drugs may interact, but most concerns are based on either poor science or pure speculation. St. John’s Wort is one of the few herbs that has actually been shown to interfere with a drug. The way it does this is by improving the body’s detoxification ability – it increases the levels of an enzyme (Cytochrome P450 CYP3A4 and CYP2C9) that breaks down drugs. This means the body gets rid of the drug faster, leaving less in the body and therefore the drug does not work properly.

Drugs that have been shown to be affected include

  1. Anti- virals
  2. Benzodiazepenes
  4. Immunosuppressants
  5. And a variety of others such as: digoxin, methadone, omeprazole, phenobarbitol, theophylline, warfarin, levodopa, suboxone, Irinotecan.

Grapefruit juice does the opposite, it slows down the drugs ability to detoxify and can increase the amount of drug in the body, leading to potentially dangerous side effects.

Bottom line:

  1. St. John’s Wort is a wonderfully effective herb for healing cuts, scrapes, and wounds and for treating depression. It is safe and effective but may not be right for everyone, especially if they are on a variety of prescription drugs.
  2. St. John’s Wort is not for the treatment of warts, though it’s mild anti-viral properties may be helpful.
  3. It’s important to have an expert in natural medicine on your health care team, one who knows what herbs like St. John’s Wort are good for and who they are good for.

HERE is a good St. John’s Wort oil, and HERE is a good capsule of St. John’s Wort.


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