Hypericin is a highly concentrated extract from flowering tops of the plant Hypericum perforatum — a stocky, yellow-flowering plant also known as ‘St. John’s Wort’. ‘Wort’ is the Old English word for ‘plant’.
Hypericum has been used since ancient times to treat wounds and almost any other condition one can think of — many of them probably without any real efficacy.
Medical research has, however, shown that Hypericin does have several worthwhile applications:
- for improving mood via its anti-depressant and anti-anxiety properties;
- as an antiviral active against cytomegalovirus, human papillomavirus, hepatitis B, herpes, and skin warts;
- for reducing depression-related anorexia, hypersomnia, or insomnia.
Hypericin has shown promise for treating cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, since it preferentially kills malignant cells. Limited experimental support also exists for hypericin as a treatment for seasonal affective disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
The most common side effects associated with hypericin are skin rash and extreme sensitivity to light.
Caution: Do not use hypericin with other antidepressants, and avoid taking it with tyramine-containing foods (e.g., cheese, red wine, yeast, and pickled herring). Hypericin can cause bleeding during pregnancy, and it can reduce the bioavailability of antiviral drugs.
Pronunciation: hypericin (hi-PEHR-ih-sin)