Welcome to the second homeopathic newsletter.
Today I will talk a little about Hypericum Perfoliatum. Or St. John’s Wort.
Homeopathic Hypericum has a reputation from historical and contemporary anecdotal experience as a remedy for injured nerves and painful wounds.
Excessive painfulness is described as an indication. Examples of this might include kids getting fingers caught in a closed door or car door; hitting a thumb with a hammer, torn nails, grazed knees and lacerations in general. Pain after dental work, torn or stretched tissues, poor healing of wounds, and pain after surgery are all potential applications of Hypericum. Used in these ways people have an opportunity to test for themselves the effectiveness or otherwise of Hypericum in an acute first aid setting.
Certainly in my own experience pain relief can be remarkable.
Historical reports suggest its usefulness in falls on the coccyx, which can be very painful, pain of shingles or post herpetic neuralgia.
As a herb Hypericum has a history of use since the time of Hippocrates, when it was used to ward off evil spirits.
Paracelsus in the 13th and 14th centuries described indications for neurosis, neuralgia, anxiety and depression.
Externally it has been used to heal burns, wounds and for shingles.
In Germany Hypericum comprises 25% of all antidepressant prescriptions.
There is now strong evidence from several meta analyses that St. John’s Wort Extract (SJW) is an effective treatment for the treatment of all grades of depressive disorder.
SJW is well tolerated and induces less adverse events than pharmaceutical antidepressants with 10 fold fewer side effects reported.
A 2008 Review (Linde 2008) found (SJW) was superior to placebo, equivalent to pharmaceutical drugs and has fewer side effects.
Importantly therapeutic benefits did not show up after six weeks but took three months to become apparent.
St. Johns wort does interact with many drugs so usage should be checked with your health practitioner.
Further it has recently come to light that therapeutic claims for pharmaceutical antidepressants may be overstated.
Much research that did not show a therapeutic benefit has not been published.
Drug companies have a tendency to only publish research that shows a positive outcome. If these unpublished trials are included then the therapeutic claims of drug companies are diluted.
With agitation and suicidal ideation as part of the side effect profile for pharmaceutical antidepressants, if safer, gentler, equally efficacious, evidence based options exist then they warrant consideration.
In this country the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) regulates all therapeutic products. All herbal medicine manufacture must comply with codes of good manufacturing practice.
Herbal medicines are tested for authenticity and stability over time using atomic absorption spectro photometry (AA), high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and thin layer chromatography (TLC).
They do have tender loving care!! (TLC).
In herbal lore the ancients sought therapeutic knowledge through a mechanism known as the doctrine of signatures. For Hypericum, when you crush the flowers they produce a blood red juice. The leaves contain tiny pellucid or translucent dots, they look like small holes, which when coupled with the blood red juice, suggested to the ancient mind a herb for wounds and punctured wounds. Therapeutic traditions for many plants were partly informed by this process, if you like nature’s intuition.
While no mention is made from this signature for depression it is interesting to surmise whether emotional wounding might be a factor in some cases in the evolution of depression.
Make of it what you will Hypericum has proved valuable in many settings.
I will leave you with a letter from the First World War from a patient to a Scottish lay practitioner. It was published in a homeopathic text by Dr Margaret Tyler, herself a homeopathic doctor who worked at the London Homeopathic Hospital for 40 years.
British Expeditionary Force
April 19th 1915.
Dear Mr Campbell ,- I want to thank you for the splendid box of pellets that you so kindly sent me. I would have written you long ago on this subject, but I wanted to test them thoroughly before I gave my opinion on them and now I can state facts that must be very satisfactory to you. The result of my observation is this: About a week after I got your letter and pellets one of my platoon was wounded by a sniper while he was on lookout in the trenches; the wound was a bad one, through the shoulder, and he was suffering a lot with it. All the color left his face and I thought he was going to faint. I thought of the pellets I had in my haversack, and I decided to give him two of them.
The effect of them I am sure I need not tell you but it surprised me beyond words. To see a man badly wounded and in terrible pain to be transformed to laugh and joke, and lark with the men, by two little pellets is something wonderful.
This is only one case out of many which I could tell you about and although I hope I never require them myself I am pleased to have them to give to others.
I am, Sir, yours faithfully Sergeant W.M.
While I have no way of authenticating this story it is a graphic picture of a painful wound. Over two centuries the prescribing indications remain the same.
You may have your own experiences with Hypericum to share.
Yours in Health
Clinic hours: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.9-6pm
Linde K, Berner MM, Kriston L. St. John’s wort for major depression. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 4 (2008): CD000448
Wheatley D. Hypericum is seasonal affective disorder (SAD) Curr Med Res Opin 15.1 (1999): 33-7.