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St. John’s wort is an effective antidepressant that can help alleviate anxiety and symptoms associated with mild depression. It is also a strong antiviral herb that can shorten the duration of cold sores when applied topically. Other topical uses include treatment of arthritis, fibromyalgia, muscle aches, and sciatica.
Parts Used: Flowers, upper leaves
Precautions: Do not take St. John’s wort if you take monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) medications.
Identifying/Growing: The easiest way to take St. John’s wort as a dietary supplement is to choose a high-quality standardized product in capsule form and follow recommended dosage instructions. If you’d like to grow your own St. John’s wort for use in topical remedies, you’ll be rewarded with beautiful, compact plants that yield lots of bright yellow blossoms. It prefers sandy or rocky soil, where it reaches a maximum height of about 2 feet. Once established, St. John’s wort requires little care; simply harvest the blooms and upper leaves as they appear.