The Prostatitis Foundation

St John's Wort Abstracts



Immune system effects | As antidepressant |  Seratonin Turnover | Dopamine Release

Topical application of St John's wort (Hypericum perforatum L.) and of its metabolite hyperforin inhibits the allostimulatory capacity of epidermal cells.

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Schempp CM - British Journal of Dermatology - 2000 May; 142(5): 979-84
Author Affiliation: Department of Dermatology, Photodermatology Unit, University Medical Center, Haupstr 7, D-79104 Freiburg, Germany.
Authors: Schempp CM; Winghofer B; Ludtke R; Simon-Haarhaus B; Schopf E; Simon JC
St John's wort (Hypericum perforatum) is a traditional herbal medicine that is used for the topical treatment of superficial wounds, burns and dermatitis. The characteristic metabolites of St John's wort are the photodynamic active plant pigment hypericin and the phloroglucin- derivative hyperforin. To date, no studies on immunomodulatory properties of topical preparations of St John's wort have been performed. Here, we investigated the alloantigen presenting function of human epidermal cells (EC) exposed to Hypericum ointment in vivo in a mixed EC lymphocyte reaction (MECLR). The effect of Hypericum ointment was compared with the immunosuppressive effect of solar-simulated radiation (SSR). Subsequently, we tested purified hyperforin in vivo and in vitro in a MECLR to evaluate its possible contribution to the effect of the Hypericum ointment. Furthermore, we assessed the effect of hyperforin on the proliferation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) in vitro. Compared with untreated skin, treatment with Hypericum ointment resulted in a significant suppression of the MECLR (P </= 0.001) that was similar to the effect of SSR. The combination of Hypericum ointment plus SSR was not significantly different from either treatment alone. EC isolated from skin treated with the hyperforin containing ointment also showed a reduced capacity to stimulate the proliferation of allogeneic T cells (P </= 0.001). Similarly, in vitro incubation of EC with hyperforin suppressed the proliferation of alloreactive T cells (P </= 0.001). Furthermore, hyperforin inhibited the proliferation of PBMC in a dose-dependent manner, without displaying pronounced toxic effects as determined by Trypan blue staining. The results demonstrate an inhibitory effect of Hypericum extract and of its metabolite hyperforin on the MECLR and on the proliferation of T lymphocytes that may provide a rationale for the traditional treatment of inflammatory skin disorders with Hypericum extracts.

Equivalence of St John's wort extract (Ze 117) and fluoxetine: a randomized, controlled study in mild-moderate depression.

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Schrader E - International Clinical Psychopharmacology - 2000 Mar; 15(2): 61-8
Author Affiliation: Praxis Klinische Arzneimittelforschung, Pohlheim, Germany.
Treatment with St John's wort extract tablets (hypericum Ze 117) and the commonly used slow serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) fluoxetine was compared in patients with mild-moderate depression with entry Hamilton Depression Scale (HAM-D) (21-item) in the range 16-24, in a randomized, double-blind, parallel group comparison in 240 subjects; fluoxetine: 114 (48%), hypericum: 126 (52%). After 6 weeks' treatment, mean HAM-D at endpoint decreased to 11.54 on hypericum and to 12.20 on fluoxetine (P < 0.09), while mean Clinical Global Impression (CGI) item I (severity) was significantly (P < 0.03) superior on hypericum, as was the responder rate (P = 0.005). Hypericum safety was substantially superior to fluoxetine, with the incidence of adverse events being 23% on fluoxetine and 8% on hypericum. The commonest events on fluoxetine were agitation (8%), GI disturbances (6%), retching (4%), dizziness (4%), tiredness, anxiety/nervousness and erectile dysfunction (3% each), while on hypericum only GI disturbances (5%) had an incidence greater than 2%. We concluded that hypericum and fluoxetine are equipotent with respect to all main parameters used to investigate antidepressants in this population. Although hypericum may be superior in improving the responder rate, the main difference between the two treatments is safety. Hypericum was superior to fluoxetine in overall incidence of side-effects, number of patients with side-effects and the type of side-effect reported.

Effect of the Hypericum perforatum extract on serotonin turnover in the mouse brain.

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Yu PH - Pharmacopsychiatry - 2000 Mar; 33(2): 60-5
Author Affiliation: Department of Psychiatry, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada.
St. John's Wort, a traditional herbal medicine obtained from the extract of Hypericum perforatum, has been used in the treatment of mild depression. Its mechanism of action remains to be established. The present study confirmed that Hypericum extract exhibited very weak inhibitory activities towards MAO. Mouse brain MAO activities was unchanged following either acute or chronic treatment with Hypericum extract. 5-HIAA levels were found to be significantly increased in the cerebral cortex, hypothalamus, hippocampus and caudate 3 h after treatment with the Hypericum extract at a dose as low as 10 mg/Kg. An increase of 5-HT levels was also observed in hypothalamus and hippocampus. The increase of brain 5-HIAA was not further enhanced following chronic administration of the herb. The Hypericum extract significantly reduced the plasma tryptophan levels, the precursor of 5- HT. The action of Hypericum extract is consistent with the notion that serotonergic system is involved. The effect of Hypericum extract on the brain 5-HIAA and 5-FIT levels appeared to be quite different from the effect of classical 5-HT re-uptake blockers.

Effect of acute administration of hypericum perforatum-CO2 extract on dopamine and serotonin release in the rat central nervous system.

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Di Matteo V - Pharmacopsychiatry - 2000 Jan; 33(1): 14-8
Author Affiliation: Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri, Consorzio Mario Negri Sud, Santa Maria Imbaro Chieti, Italy.
Authors: Di Matteo V; Di Giovanni G; Di Mascio M; Esposito E
The hydromethanolic extract of Hypericum perforatum has been shown to be an effective antidepressant, although its mechanism of action is still unclear. In this study, in vivo microdialysis was used to investigate the effects of Hypericum perforatum-CO2 extract on dopamine (DA), 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC), serotonin (5-HT), and 5- hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) release in various areas of brain. Administration of Hypericum perforatum extract (1 mg/kg, p.o.) caused a slight, but significant increase of DA outflow both in the nucleus accumbens and the striatum. The maximal increase of DA efflux (+19.22+/- 1.93%, relative to the control group) in the nucleus accumbens occurred 100 min after administration of Hypericum perforatum. In the striatum, the extract maximally enhanced DA outflow (+24.83+/-7.49 %, relative to the control group) 80 min after administration. Extraneuronal DOPAC levels were not significantly affected by Hypericum perforatum treatment. Moreover, Hypericum perforatum (1 mg/kg, p.o.) did not produce any significant effect on either 5-HT or 5-HIAA efflux in the ventral hippocampus. This study shows for the first time that Hypericum perforatum extract is capable of increasing in vivo DA release.


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