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What's this

Hypericum is a perennial herbaceous plant native to the British archipelago and now widespread throughout the world. Its full botanical name is Hypericum perforatum, born from the fact that the leaves against the light appear as if they had holes, that is, as if they were perforated. These are actually small oily blisters. This plant belongs to the Hypericaceae family. It has a flattened stem, long and opposite leaves, crossed by small oily blisters and at the edges by black points and 5-petalled golden yellow flowers, crossed by black points, or glands containing hypericin, a red substance that tradition attributes to the blood shed by St. John the Baptist. The popular name of St. John's wort is, in fact, St. John's wort, but also devil's herb because it was always believed in the past that sleeping next to St. John's wort plants kept evil spirits away and protected against death for at least a year. The definition of St. John's wort probably derives from the flowering period of St. John's wort which occurs at the end of June (St. John is celebrated on June 24). This plant grows in dense, sun-exposed woods. It resists the cold and can also develop in abandoned fields and ruins, in dry and sunny soils. In some areas of the planet it is considered a weed, while in Europe it is used for its antiviral and antidepressant effects. The parts of the plant used for medicinal purposes are the leaves and the flowering tops.


Hypericum is considered a plant with significant antiviral and antidepressant effects. The active ingredient of hypericum is hypericin which seems to improve mood and is useful for mild or moderate depressions. Other active substances are vitamins C and A, tannins, isoflavones, quercetin, essential oils, pectin, biapigenin and amentoflavin. These two substances in particular would act on the central nervous system by binding to the receptors that send relaxation signals to the brain The effects of hypericum on depression are manifested by regulating the mood, increasing the feeling of well-being, reducing states of anxiety or distress and promoting sleep. Hypericum also has antiviral properties, reduces herpex simples attacks and studies are underway to verify its effects on AIDS therapies. Hypericum raises the immune defenses, relieves autonomic disorders, but also has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties in case of ulcers, wounds and sores.


Hypericum is used for both internal and external use. The internal use concerns above all the treatment of depression, the increase of the immune defenses and the antiviral action, the external use, on the other hand, the treatment of wounds, ulcers, sores and skin problems such as acne, boils and psoriasis even if studies are still underway for the latter disease. For internal use there are capsules or tablets containing dry extract of titrated hypericum (i.e. pure) sometimes enriched with valerian and passionflower. These medicinal remedies are used to improve mood. The recommended dose is one capsule in the morning, upon awakening and one in the late afternoon, on an empty stomach. The daily dose of hypericin to treat depressive problems is 900 mg of hypericum extract, i.e. one 300 mg capsule three times a day. But in the latter case, these are capsules that contain only St. John's wort extract, without the addition of extracts from other plants. St. John's Wort capsules should not be taken concomitantly with antidepressant drugs because they could enhance their effects. Another reported side effect is photosensitization to UV rays, so it is advisable to avoid exposure to the sun or tanning treatments while following a hypericum-based therapy (photosensitization is also typical of traditional antidepressants). To combat depression, hypericum-based therapy must be followed for at least two or three months, the first positive effects should appear within 15 days. In any case, the depressive pathology must always be followed by a doctor who will evaluate the dosage and the most suitable therapy to follow. For external use, St. John's wort oil is used, which is the red substance extracted from the glands of the plant's petals. The oil is used to treat minor skin problems, such as sunburn, redness, scratches. The oily extract is obtained by macerating the fresh flowered tops in sunflower oil. To treat the parts affected by redness or small wounds just apply a small amount of St. John's wort oil and massage gently until completely absorbed.

Hypericum: Cost of products

The remedies based on hypericum extracts have a cost that remains in the average of the other herbal products. A pack of 50 capsules based on St. John's wort costs about 13 euros; a 100 ml bottle of St. John's wort oil costs 10 euros.

Hypericum - Hypericum cultivation

L'Hypericum or St. John's wort it is an ornamental plant that is easy to grow in pots and in the ground, especially appreciated for property in fact, the flowered tops of its flowers are rich in flavonoids and have an antidepressant and sedative action.

  • General characteristics Hypericum
  • Flowering
  • Hypericum cultivation
  • Exposure
  • Ground
  • Watering
  • Fertilization
  • Multiplication of hypericum
  • Multiplication by cuttings
  • Hypericum plant or St. John's wort
  • Rotation
  • Pruning of hypericum
  • Hypericum collection
  • Drying and conservation
  • Parasites and diseases of the Hypericum
  • Cures and treatments
  • Things to know about St. John's wort
  • Language and meaning of flowers
  • Beneficial properties and uses of hypericum
  • Curiosity
  • Photo gallery Hypericum - St. John's wort

How to grow Hypericum

Hypericum (Hypericum perforatum L.), also known as St. John's wort), is a semi-evergreen medicinal perennial plant of the Clusiaceae family. This plant has phytotherapeutic properties, in particular antidepressant and antiviral ones. The origins of its use are very ancient. In this sheet we will see how to cultivate Hypericum and the useful tricks. From this plant we prepare theHypericum oil.
Hypericum, a plant of Asian origin, is made up of over 400 different species, herbaceous and with a woody stem at the base. This plant is usually used as a ground cover, due to its ability to spread very quickly thanks to its thin and creeping stems. The height is about 30-40 centimeters and the flower, red or yellow, has five petals, sometimes curved. But how to cultivate the Hypericum?
It can be grown in pots, and then planted in the garden, St. John's wort has numerous foliage and a very large flowering. The great adaptability allows cultivation in almost all types of soil, even the most sandy and poor, as well as being useful for the consolidation of the slopes thanks to the stolons that are able to retain the soil.

Being a very adaptable plant, you can choose to plant St. John's Wort indifferently in full sun or in dim light: both solutions do not cause particular problems for the development of St. John's wort.
Resistance to temperatures can go from 25 ° C to -10 ° C, with a deterioration of leaves and branches in the latter case, but with the plant that, from the base, sprouts without problems.
It is not necessary to wet the plant, which performs well even in very dry climates. Instead, it is useful to prune the plants at the base every two years, but only if the branches and leaves have darkened.
When purchasing, check that the foliage is developed and there is no rust; moreover, know that you can plant it throughout the year. Propagation It occurs by division of the tufts, by semi-woody cutting, or by removing from the mother plant the new plants that develop at the end of the vigorous stolons.
New seedlings can be obtained either by seed or by cuttings.
By seed, it is necessary to proceed in the greenhouse, at the beginning of spring. Germination is quite fast, but, especially for evergreen species, flowering will not occur for at least three years.
The cutting is carried out from summer to autumn. Portions of semi-ripe branch are taken and placed in a very light compost and always kept slightly humid, in the shade. Everything is covered with a plastic film.
Layering or offshoots are also very practical, to be operated in autumn. In particular, the second is easy to realize for species with long stems and for ground cover. It is sufficient to make small cuts on the stem and bury right in correspondence with them. In spring, generally, the emission of new roots has already taken place and the new plant can be separated. The division should preferably be carried out in the autumn.
Hypericum has no particular needs in terms of soil. It adapts to all soils, as long as they are well drained.
To have excellent results both of growth and flowering it is necessary to place it in full sun. In any case, almost all of them tolerate even partial shade well. Some species (in particular the calycinum, the androsaemus and the hidcote cultivar) manage to thrive quite well even in the shade.
They can develop without problems in any soil, even in the common garden soil, as long as it is sufficiently drained they also grow in sandy places and poor in organic matter.


  • 1 Etymology
  • 2 Morphology
  • 3 Habitat
  • 4 Uses and pharmacology
    • 4.1 Depression
    • 4.2 Antibiotic and antiviral properties
    • 4.3 Other uses
    • 4.4 Contraindications
  • 5 Notes
  • 6 Bibliography
  • 7 Related items
  • 8 Other projects
  • 9 External links

The specific epithet perforatum it derives from the fact that the leaflets, against the light, appear pitted, an effect due to translucent glands also present in the sepals and petals.
Instead, the common and vulgar names are many. The most common is St. John's wort. This epithet is linked to the fact that the maximum flowering occurs around June 24, the feast of St. John [2]. The name of grass from the red oil it is due to the color of the exudate released by the flowers rich in the active ingredient hypericin the name "scacciadiavoli", widely used in past centuries, would derive from the fact that this herb consecrated to St. John and with its multiple therapeutic properties, was believed to be effective against all kinds of evil, another explanation would be linked to one of the etymological theories of the scientific name, that is that of the use of hanging it over icons to drive away evil spirits. Finally, the term pillar it seems to derive from the Greek pyle - "meatus", referring to the holes in the leaves. [without source]

It is a semi-evergreen perennial, glabrous, with an erect stem crossed by two longitudinal strips in relief. It is well recognizable even when it is not in bloom because its leaves against the light appear "pitted": they are actually small oily vesicles from which the name derives perforatum at the margins, on the other hand, black points are visible, glandular structures containing Hypericin (a red-colored oil), these glandular structures are present mainly in the petals. The leaves are oblong opposite. The golden yellow flowers have 5 delicate petals and are gathered in corymbs.

It prefers sparse and luminous woods, however outdoors all year round, as it does not fear the cold. Originally from the British archipelago, it is now widespread in all regions of Italy and in the rest of the world. It prefers sunny or semi-shady and dry locations, such as abandoned fields and ruderal environments.

Depression Edit

Although already known to ancient medicine (Dioscorides, Galen, Pliny the Elder and Mattioli [3] talk about it) the most interesting use of hypericum is relatively recent: by now numerous studies have shown its antidepressant efficacy, especially in the case of mild and moderate depression, with an effect comparable to some antidepressant psychotropic drugs.

A 2008 study review conducted by Crochane Collaboration, one of the most authoritative scientific institutions in the world, concludes that "current evidence suggests that hypericum extracts are superior to placebo in the treatment of major depression, with similar efficacy to classic antidepressant drugs but with significantly fewer side effects." [4] A review of the studies published in 2016 reaches the same conclusion, in which it is emphasized, however, that the collection and reporting of side effects is subjected to less stringent surveillance than that to which common drugs are subjected for which, despite being in used for centuries, safety, especially in the long term, has not yet been thoroughly studied. [5]

Its use is particularly widespread in Germany, where it is recommended as a treatment for depression in adolescents, before attempting the pharmacological route. [6] It is sometimes used, combined with other products, also for the phytotherapeutic treatment of some forms of anxiety. The studies generally use standardized Hypericum extracts (often produced by Swiss and German companies under the name of LI 160, WS 5570/2 and ZE 117) with a high concentration of active ingredients (which generally are around 0.3% in hypericin and 3-6% in hyperforin) that the European Scientific Cooperative on Phytotherapy (ESCOP, the European scientific body on phytotherapy) recommends taking at a dosage of 300-1800 mg / day. [1]

The antidepressant mechanism of action of its active ingredients is only now beginning to be elucidated and appears to be only partially correlated to that of the classic drugs most used today. The principle initially considered active was hypericin but recent developments have made it clear that the other compounds present in the extracts also contribute synergistically to the efficacy. These include: [7]

  • naphthodianthrons: of which mainly hypericin, pseudohyperericin, isopericin and protopericin are part. They are photoreactive and are probably the cause of the photosensitizing action of the extracts. They contain an average concentration of 0.2-0.3%.
  • phloroglucinols: hyperforin, another major active component, and its analogues along with other lipophilic compounds. Hyperforin is unstable to both oxygen and light.
  • flavonoids: amentoflavone, quercetin, lutein, hyperin and others that are present in the extracts at an average concentration of 7-12%.
  • other compounds with probable effects of both pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic synergy (tannins, xanthanes, phenolic compounds, polysaccharides).

Hyperforin is capable of inhibiting the reuptake (reuptake) of serotonin in a different way than SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor): while these block the activity of the serotonin transporter (SerT, which works thanks to a Na + / Cl - gradient) for competitive inhibition, hyperforin (and possibly the other active compounds) appear to increase the sodium and calcium gradient intracellular, consequently affecting the aforementioned Na + / Cl - pump (which works by collecting Na + from the synaptic space) and thus reducing the activity of the SerT. Furthermore, it has been shown to be able to act in a similar way on a large number of transporters, inhibiting the reuptake of dopamine, glutamate, noradrenaline and GABA with IC50 (concentration of active ingredient that causes a 50% inhibition) of 0.05-0.1 µg / mL. This activity is believed to be due to the ability of hypericin to activate the transient receptor potential channel protein 6 (TRPC6), an ion channel belonging to the broader class of non-selective cation channels (NSCCs, proteins capable of regulating cellular movement of cations such as Na + and Ca2 +) which leads to an increase in sodium uptake in the neuron, thus causing a decrease in its concentration in the synaptic wall and unavailability for proteins conveyors for monoamines. [7] However, this does not fully explain its pharmacological activity: a 2014 study showed how hyperforin applied acts as a protonophore agent by inducing a current of H + which induces an acidification of the cytosol and a further increase in intracellular sodium concentrations . [8] Contrary to what caused by serotonergic antidepressants, hyperforin has been shown to increase the number of serotonin receptors following chronic administration, suggesting a potential beneficial effect. [9]

Hypericin has been shown to have strong affinity for sigma receptors, which in turn regulate dopamine levels. It also acts as an antagonist on the receptors for adenosine, GABA-A, GABA-B and inositol triphosphates, which regulate the action potentials caused by neurotransmitters. Other studies have shown that hypericin is an inhibitor of Mono Amino Oxidase enzymes (the pharmacological target of so-called antidepressants MAOI) even if this action does not seem to be significant at the concentrations normally reached with the use of the extracts. [7]

The extracts also have remarkable antioxidant and neuroprotective properties, as well as improving vascular properties, which have suggested their use in some neurological pathologies. [7] For these properties, scholars say that hypericum extracts should be a first-choice treatment for depression in the elderly with high oxidative stress. [10]

However, these qualities can only be exploited by pharmaceutical preparations because in Italy a provision of the Ministry of Health limits the quantity of hypericin present in herbal products to 21 micrograms per day, therefore much lower than the dosages proved useful for the treatment of depression and therefore free of practical utility, having also been shown in several trials that the concentration of hyperforin is directly proportional to the therapeutic effects. [1]

Antibiotic and antiviral properties Modification

In traditional medicine, hypericum is used as an antiseptic. These uses are partly due to the antibacterial and antiviral properties of hyperforin which is able to block the growth of Gram + (but not Gram-) bacteria, in particular strains resistant to other antibiotics such as Methicillin-resistant (MRSA) and penicillin- resistant (PRSA) Staphylococcus aureus, and interfere in various stages of the life cycle of encapsulated viruses including that of influenza, especially when activated by light. [7]

Other Uses Edit

In traditional herbal medicine, on the other hand, the astringent, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial qualities of hypericum have been mainly enhanced, also for internal use but above all for external use in the treatment of burns, hemorrhoids, wounds, sores. [11]. To this end, it is prepared in the form of hypericum oil, an oleolite with a characteristic red color, prepared by macerating the plant in olive oil in the sun for 6-7 days.

In the treatment of wounds, its ability seems to be due to the stimulation of collagen production. Hypericum extracts appear to possess anti-inflammatory activities by inhibiting proinflammatory genes such as COX-2, interleukin-6 and iNOS. [7]

Contraindications Edit

All the most recent clinical trials and review of studies conclude that hypericum extracts are more tolerable than the most common psychotropic drugs, causing fewer side effects and with improvement rates often similar to the drug. However, dangerous interactions with different drugs are possible. [1] [7]

  • Interactions with other drugs have been highlighted as the plant is a strong inducer of CYP3A4, an enzyme that metabolizes 80% of drugs on the market. It is therefore not recommended to take St. John's wort together with contraceptives, antiepileptics, warfarin. It also has interactions with immunosuppressants (cyclosporine), cardiac glycosides (digoxin) in case of hypericum doses higher than 1 gram / day (dry weight), non-nucleoside inhibitors of HIV reverse transcriptase (nevirapine), other inhibitors of the HIV reverse protease ( indinavir), chemotherapy (irinotecan) [12]
  • At high doses it causes photosensitization, therefore it is not recommended to undergo solarium or UV treatment (after taking extremely high dosages of dry extract titrated in hypericin or isolated hypericin). There are no risks of photosensitization in case of taking normal dosages of hydroalcoholic extracts of hypericum but people belonging to sensitive phototypes (light skin, blond hair, blue eyes) should be careful to undergo UV treatments in case of regular intake.
  • Simultaneous use with SSRIs is not recommended, due to the possible effects of adding and exceeding the toxic dose.

The maceration in oil used for the preparation of St. John's wort oil, on the other hand, degrades the hypericin thus eliminating most of the contraindications but also the antidepressant activity.

Multiplication of hypericum

L'hypericum it reproduces by sowing, by semi-woody cutting, by division of the tufts, by means of the stolons that grow at the base of the mother plant.

The sowing carried out in seedbeds between September and November. The germination of the seeds is very low and decreases with their age and therefore it is advisable to use 1 year old seeds and to stratify them on the surface, without burying them.

Multiplication by cuttings

  1. In summer, from July to September, Hypericum can be propagated by agamic via cuttings of non-flowering lateral twigs.
  2. Using well-sharpened and disinfected scissors, 10-12 cm long cuttings are taken from the lateral non-flowering shoots, with a portion of bearing branch
  3. they are planted in a mixture of peat and sand in equal parts the container is placed in a place sheltered from the cold
  4. the substrate is always kept moist until the roots take root and the appearance of new shoots. The new plants must be strengthened until the moment of final planting.

Hypericum plant or St. John's wort

The new St. John's wort seedlings can be planted all year round, even if the best time is late spring, between April and May, to prevent them from being damaged by late frosts. In general, the planting density is 3 plants per square meter.


St. John's wort is rotated with the cultivation of potatoes and cereals. The alternation with the same can be done after 4 years.

Pruning of hypericum

It is pruned every two years, in March, both to eliminate damaged and dry stems and to contain their growth. Shortening the branches of the previous year, leaving a portion of the old wood with a few buds and pruning dry branches and those that have darkened leaves at ground level.

Hypericum collection

The collection of twigs and flowering tops is carried out in the period of maximum flowering of the plant and varies from June - July to early August or from September to October in relation to the sowing period.

Harvesting is done by cutting the plants at ground level if the branches are herbaceous, at a greater height if the stems are semi-woody.

Drying and conservation

The drying of small quantities of St. John's wort is done in the open air, for 10 days, in a ventilated place but away from humidity: the twigs of St. John's wort are tied in bunches and then put to dry hanging and upside down having the care to remove the mass to prevent the innermost parts from becoming moldy. Large quantities of hypericum, on the other hand, are usually dried in a drying room (40-60 ° C) for a period of about 24 hours and up to 8% humidity.

To preserve the dried leaves and flowers of St. John's wort, it is recommended to use airtight jars or glass jars, preferably dark in color, to be placed away from light, heat and humidity.

Hypericum, St. John's wort

The family includes 1350 species in 47 genera, common mainly in tropical regions but also in those of temperate regions. They are mostly trees, suffrutics, lianas and herbaceous plants, with yellow or strongly colored resinous juice or latex. It includes the genera once classified in the Hypericaceae family.

The genus Hypericum includes 400 species, the height of which varies from 30 to 70 cm depending on the species.

Evergreen shrub, rustic, small in size, woody at the base, herbaceous at the top and with a short rhizome.

It is easy to grow and has beautiful bright yellow blooms in summer.

The single flower has 5 petals and many showy stamens.

The leaves are opposite, very dense and oblong elliptical in shape.

In the Garden of the Angels there is theHypericum patulum "Hidcote"

It forms a compact, fast-growing bush. It can reach a height of 1.50-1.70 meters. and a width of 1.20-1.50 meters.

Semi-evergreen, it has dark green ovate-lanceolate leaves, glaucous on the underside and very decorative golden yellow flowers with evident orange stamens.

Flowering period from July to October.

It is very useful for consolidating embankments. It does not require particular care, being a very rustic species, it resists up to -30 / -20 ° C, and is adaptable.

There reproductionit is performed by cuttings.

From July to September, 10-12 cm long cuttings are taken from the non-flowering lateral shoots, preferably with a portion of bearing branch, planted in a mixture of peat and sand and wintered in a place sheltered from frost. In April or May they are transplanted into the nursery.

It has no particular soil requirements, it also adapts to poor and sandy substrates.

It can be exposed to both partial shade and full sun where it thrives much better.

They are planted in October or April, with a density of 3 plants per square meter.

It is very resistant to drought.

In March and June give a complete fertilizer.

There pruning takes place in March, shortening the branches of the previous year, leaving a portion of the old wood with a few buds.

Prune at ground level in case of browning of branches and leaves in winter or spring.

Rust is the only disease that can affect the plant, simply treatable with specific medicines.

If affected, the plant has leaves with small yellow or orange spots and slows its growth.

It is not used in the culinary field but, due to its aromatic and digestive properties, it is used to produce liqueurs.

The leaves and flowering tops are harvested in summer and dried in the shade. The resulting drug has antidepressant, sedative, antibacterial and soothing properties.

Hypericum oil it is used for the treatment of rheumatism and in cosmetics to give tone to withered skin.

It is known generically as St. John's wort.

In reality, St. John's wort refers to Hypericum perforatum.

On June 24, the harvesting of its flowering tops is carried out. In some areas it is also known as "scacciadiavoli grass", it was burned in the house to ward off evil spirits.

It has been considered a magical herb for centuries, generally protective against ghosts, lightning and witchcraft.

The Latins considered it one of the sunniest plants existing in nature. In fact, his name means "cum-hyperione" that is the father of the dawn and the sun.

Resistance of the Hypericum garden plant:

Fully resistant masses of cupped, deep yellow, cup-shaped flowers appear on red stems from July to October amid strikingly variegated green, cream and pink leaves. This low-spreading, semi-evergreen shrub makes a valuable ground cover plant where space is limited. Less invasive than the ubiquitous "Rose of Sharon", it grows equally well in the sun and shade, but needs protection from cold and dry winds.

Garden care:

after the flowering of the Hypericum garden plant, slightly cut the rear shoots that spoil the symmetry of the plant. After pruning, apply a generous 5-7 cm mulch of fertilizer or well-decomposed garden manure around the bottom of the plant.

Hypericum cultivation


It prefers sunny locations in places with mild summers and semi-shaded in very hot ones. Hypericum can stand the cold and therefore can easily be grown even in areas with a harsh climate.


It grows well in any type of soil even if it prefers dry, loose and well drained soil.


It is a plant that is generally satisfied with rainwater but in periods of prolonged drought it is advisable to water it regularly.


At the vegetative restart, at the beginning of spring, fertilize the plant with a slow release fertilizer or with mature manure.

Persistent foliage
Fall foliage
Semi persistent foliage
Sunny exposure
Partial shade exposure
Shaded exposure
Suitable for mild climates
Sensitive to cold
Not widespread plant
Patented variety


Hypericum calycinum is a woody and sucking perennial plant.

It has erect and little branched stems and persistent oval, glaucous green leaves.

From June to August, it has large yellow flowers, up to 8 cm wide. in diameter, which completely cover the foliage. Numerous golden stamens form a large central bouquet.

Use: borders of shrub beds, slopes, covering at the base of a hedge.

It needs soft, deep, even pebbly soil, while it has a less good behavior in heavy, very compact soil.

Hypericum calycinum must be shortened in spring to renew the vegetation.

Video: Gem Club - Hypericum


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