top of page

Plant Family:  

Hypericum perforatum was formerly classified in the Guttiferae/Clusiaceae family but is now classified in the Hypericaceae family.  


Habitat & Cultivation: 

How to positively identify Hypericum perforatum:

  1. When the leaves are viewed up close (held up towards light) they have many tiny little spots on them like pinholes (“perforated” like the name perforatum).  These spots are actually translucent glands, not holes.

  2. When the flower heads are pinched and squeezed in the fingers, a red pigment can be seen left on the fingers.  This has a very distinct SJW fragrance. When making SJW tincture, the tincture almost immediately turns red once alcohol is poured over the plant.  This is in part due to the compound hypericin.

(Hypericin can be associated with the first part of the name - Hypericum when identifying this plant while the perforated leaves can be associated with the other part of the name - perforatum).


Parts Used/Collection: 

Aerial parts



  • liquid extract 6 to 12 mL/day of a 1:1

  • 2 to 6 mL/day of a 1:2 liquid extract or equivalent in tablet or capsule form

  • 900mg/day of a concentrated extract (6:1) standardised to 0% to 3% of total hypericin

  • (Mills & Bone, 2005, p. 585)

Again, please read your questions carefully.  The forms are: Tincture, infusion, liquid extract, infused oil.  The information listed in your answer is both forms and dosage information.


Herbal Actions: 

  • Antidepressant

  • Nervine Tonic

  • Antiviral

  • Vulnerary

  • Antimicrobial (topically)

  • Antiinflammatory

  • Astringent




Plant Constituents:

Most appropriate for Pitta least appropriate for Vata and Kapha. The stimulating, drying, clearing, and mobile qualities are excellent for Kapha as well.  If there is concern about the cooling quality, it can be combined with other herbs that are more warming.

Constitutional tonic for Pitta types (imbalance = fiery, critical, frustration, anger); most useful for people who constantly need to take charge, make plans/back up plans and feel insulted when things don’t go as they hoped. May have insomnia due to overthinking the day. Tendency to worry about their performance and are very good at criticizing themselves. Client may be experiencing acute or chronic pain, and/or have an emotional attachment to this pain/injury. (Upton, 2000)

An example of this might be a client that has had a birth that did not go as planned (interventions, cesarean), is working on healing physically and emotionally processing the way things went, possibly blames herself, and is having difficulty sleeping. She may also have stress-related headaches, hypertension, and/or spasms.

This plant also has a unique heavy/grounding/soft quality that is especially helpful for people experiencing too much light/mobile. Light/mobile in the postpartum may present as someone having difficulty slowing down to rest or bond with baby, the client who is up and moving around the house trying to get chores done at 2 or 3 days pp.  It may also present as moving pain, someone who has tailbone pain, then a headache, then stomach pain. You’ll also meet people who no matter what they do, they can’t seem to keep weight on their body - this is too much light quality and skullcap is an excellent nervine for them.


System Affinities: 

Nervous system (depression, anxiety, nervousness), immune system (antiviral, antibacterial), integumentary system (wound healing).


Herbal synergies: 

Passiflora incarnata






Stimulating (mobile)




SJW should not be taken with antidepressants.  Some studies have shown inhibition of neurotransmitters.

It may interact with oral contraceptives, anticoagulants, Theophylline, Indinavir, cyclosporine, digoxin. In animal studies it was found that SJW prolonged narcotic-induced sleep (American Herbal Pharmacopoeia: St. John's Wort Monograph, 1997, p. 27). SJW has been shown to have effects on certain drugs by increasing the activity of the metabolizing Cytochrome P450 enzymes, the liver’s leading metabolic processing plant for thousands of exogenous and endogenous chemicals.  SJW stimulates this system, leading to lower plasma levels of drugs metabolized by the P450 enzymes OR increasing the speed of the P450 enzymes in releasing a bioactive metabolite of a pharmaceutical.  In other words, this influence on the P450 system can result in either decreased or increased effects of medications. The compound hyperforin is believed to be primarily responsible for SJW effect, having effects for approximately 7 days after SJW use.

The following drugs may be affected by SJW:




Calcium-channel blockers


Hormonal contraceptives





Anticancer drugs (chemotherapy and other)

Beta-adrenergic blockers


Antiulcer agents



Skeletal muscle relaxants



Personal Experience:

I take this tincture on a regular basis, it gives me a boost energy while still grounding my thoughts and allows me to get centered.  My local herb shop sells the cherry flavored tincture and it is delicious. 



Romm, A. (2010). Botanical medicine for women's health (p. 694). St. Louis, Mo: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier.


American Botanical Council. (2000). St. John’s wort.



St. John's Wart (Hypericum performatum)

bottom of page