From Hek@hetta.pp.fiSat May 20 14:37:18 1995
Date: Sat, 20 May 95 18:37:43 MET
From: Henriette Kress 
Subject: Re: Herbfaq v.1.10 for alt.folklore.herbs - Hypericum appendix
-----

Medicinal Herb FAQ on Alt.folklore.herbs - Hypericum Appendix.
Strange numbers refer to chapters in the Herbfaq.

==========
2.4 St. John's Wort (Hypericum) and Photosensitivity
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Here's the question (on the herblist (see 8.1 below) in November 1994):
-----
As to Hypericum perforatum (St. John's Wort) causing photosensitivity
in humans, I have been unable to find a single study that verifies
this in vivo.  Lots of research on the effects of hypericin on cattle
and insects, but humans?  This may be an example of assumptive jumping
from mammalian lab results to humans.  Anyone know a study that
indicates photosensitivity in humans do to Hypericum?

Cheers-
Peggy

-----
Here's the answer:

==========
From:   IN%"HERB%TREARN.BITNET@vm.gmd.de"
        "Medicinal and Aromatic Plants discussion list"
To:     IN%"HERB%TREARN.BITNET@vm.gmd.de"
        "Multiple recipients of list HERB"

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From: moon2peg@NATURE.BERKELEY.EDU
Subject: HYPERICUM AND PHOTOSENSITIVITY
Date: 21-NOV-1994 02:34:14.20

As to Hypericum perforatum (St. John's Wort) causing photosensitivity in
humans, I have been unable to find a single study that verifies this in
vivo.  Lots of research on the effects of hypericin on cattle and insects,
but humans?  This may be an example of assumptive jumping from mammalian
lab results to humans.  Anyone know a study that indicates photosensitivity
in humans do to Hypericum?

Cheers-
Peggy

-----
>From Howie Brounstein

Or How John the Wort plays with the Sun

Netters,

Glad to be back.

> As to Hypericum perforatum (St. John's Wort) causing photosensitivity in
> humans, I have been unable to find a single study that verifies this in
> vivo.  Lots of research on the effects of hypericin on cattle and insects,
> but humans?  This may be an example of assumptive jumping from mammalian
> lab results to humans.  Anyone know a study that indicates photosensitivity
> in humans do to Hypericum?
>
> Cheers-
> Peggy

I don't know of any, Peggy. I have not heard of one case of human
photosensitivity...even in the blond, blue-eyed, fair skinned ones...from
standard dosages of tincture. Now I haven't asked any albinos doing
truckloads of Hypericum a day....maybe they'd have a problem. I've known
a few folks who definitely did not like the feeling they got from St. John's
Wort.....but being slightly saner than the average bear.....they stopped
taking it. Perhaps they've shunned the sun if they continued. But albino
cows definitely have a problem with St. John's Wort.

And so the authorities that be in charge (of cows and bugs, anyway) in
Northern California has waged a war against the poor St. John, hapless
victim of human transport from Europe. By releasing bugs from afar, they
strive to rid our pasture of this scourge from the old country. Alas, for I
wonder...when there are only small populations left in the area...will St.
John become a rare and protected plant?????? The laws..the laws...

I do know that some common psychiatric pharmaceuticals DO cause
photosensitivity in humans.......

And when you hold the leaves of the Hypericum perforatum the the light
of the sky you will see little holes...actually compartments
(perforations)....that trap and use the energy of the sun to run a biochemical
factory......making hypericin....the red colored constituent assumed to be one
of the active ones. Squueeezze that unopened flower bud...just a hint of yellow
petals peaking so cautiously from its sepal safety...sqqqueeeezze and you will
delight to find a drop of redness so strong as to dye the fingers.

Now when I teach my students about this Wort...we general use flower buds
and the stems and small leaves attached to them to prepare oils and tinctures.
This appears to work just fine, producing extracts of wond'rous redfulness.
But those who wish for an herbal nectar of delight of greater strength...they sit
for hours collecting just flower petals in some Zen like quest. Well....what
good's an herbalist without patience :) ......Certainly they are rewarded with
extract of unequaled value (not found in Cheapside).

Now I'm not one to believe new herbal scientific data until I see the experiment
reproduced by other researchers (especially if they have different sources of
funding). Recently I saw an article (was it Medical Herbalism?) that stated two
research teams at about the same time released results of this Wort being
antiviral against enveloped virus that include herpes, etc. But of interest to
me was the notion that sunlight increased the Wort's anti-viral effects........
that sun again......somehow..in some mysterious way linked to this plant and
it's effects. Without exposure to sunlight....the herbs anti-viral effect
dropped markedly.

I don't have all that much experience with bipolar and other mental disorders
and Hypericum...although I believe that consistent dosages long term is the
way to go.......and careful with self medication. With many of these kinds of
problems.....you may not be able to tell if it's working...especially since you
started taking it and you feel great...I mean really good...as you swing up into
a manic phase and over one edge or the other. Have someone who can help
you gauge your illness objectively (ha) or at least tell you if you've
fallen off the fence. It can be hard to tell from the inside.

So ideally...the Wort would take away the highs and lows and make the
emotional roller coaster of todays hectic society more even. As opposed
to the muscle relaxing tranquilizing effects of Valerian, Skullcap, Pedicularis,
and such. I don't know about clinical studies...but in my experience the Wort
works for some and not others for simple depression and light roller coaster
rides that do not incapacitate the riders. And it even works as a muscle
relaxant in some people. Not the "sure and steady" herb that works effectively
for everyone (like that bitter Hore Hound that makes everyone gag ..I mean
cough.)

And this even tempered plant grows in disturbed places...roadsides, lots, loves
it when its been bulldozed a year or so ago. A calming herb that grows all over
disturbed areas...hmmmmm. Perhaps one shouldn't focus on the oddities and
quirks of nature and coincidence....but I think it's cool.

The Wort Oil is good for skin irritations and such...I seen it help when the
calendula, comfrey, penstemon...and other herbs won't work. It also helps
cuts and external physical injuries in general. But in my eyes it seems to
have an affinity for the nerves...........and it seems to be specific for
injuries accompanied by nerve trauma.....like I cut my arm and my finger goes numb.
I wouldn't claim it reconnects severed nerves....but it will aid in healing them
if traumatized. But don't be mislead by symptoms...put the oil on the arm
injury......not the numb finger.

And if your out collecting this wort and happen to come across a semi-stagnant
pond.....look closely....at the edge between sunlight and shadow..in an evenly
balanced amoebiotic soup....a sort of thick pond slime floating freely. It's my
mushroom. I set it free!

Howie Brounstein
C&W Herbs
Eugene, Oregon

Up a little too late

-----
Date: Mon, 21 Nov 1994 13:27:46 +0000
From: Jonathan Treasure 
Subject: Re: HYPERICUM AND PHOTOSENSITIVITY

>As to Hypericum perforatum (St. John's Wort) causing photosensitivity in
>humans, I have been unable to find a single study that verifies this in
>vivo.  Lots of research on the effects of hypericin on cattle and insects,
>but humans?  This may be an example of assumptive jumping from mammalian
>lab results to humans.  Anyone know a study that indicates photosensitivity
>in humans do to Hypericum?
>
>Cheers-
>Peggy

Photoxicity of Hypericum in a small proportion of the (blonde) population
has been clinically noted especially with topical application whether
published or not. Here is an extract from a report from this years'
Convention of Naturopathic Physicians in the US which adds some interesting
information about the incidence of Phototoxicity in Puerto Rican AIDS
sufferers

begins
One doctor at the conference who treats a lot of AIDs patients said she
had seen frequent cases of phototoxocity in dark skinned Puerto Ricans,
especially with higher doses and long term administration. AIDS patients
started taking Hypericum when is was found that the hypericin had an anti-HIV
effect in mice. Use has persisted in spite of later discovery that it
doesn't help HIV in humans. Most AIDS patients feel much better when
taking Hypericum, probably because of the antidepressant effect --
depression is probably the least often mentioned symptom of AIDS.

Another doctor showed us her legs at the conference -- she had used a
Hypericum ulstrasound gel to treat a sprained ankle. The ultrasound
drives the contents of the gel directly into the tissues. She later
worked in the direct sunlight, and soon had second degree burns, complete
with blisters, whevever the sunlight fell on the gel-treated skin. Six
weeks later we could still see the shadow on the back of the leg where
the sunlight didn't fall, and the shadow of a sandle strap across the
front of the ankle. There was scarring from the blisters. By the way, she
said the only thing that would help the severe pain was aloe vera gel.
end

Jonathan

(jtreasure@jonno.demon.co.uk)

-----
> Photoxicity of Hypericum in a small proportion of the (blonde)population
> has been clinically noted especially with topical application whether
> published or not.

                                      snip

> frequent cases of phototoxocity in dark skinned Puerto Ricans, especially
> with higher doses and long term administration.

                     snip cut snip

> She later
> worked in the direct sunlight, and soon had second degree burns, >complete
> with blisters, whevever the sunlight fell on the gel-treated skin.

> Jonathan


Yes indeed, somewhere in my the recesses of my mind I remember hearing
these tales, Jon........if forgotten for the moment. I'll remember them now.

Still, I believe that the average user treating depression shouldn't shy away
from trying this Wort. The chemical alternatives have their dangers, too,
including photosensitivity. I'll avoid ultrasound/Hypericum treatments.
Interesting idea though...to increase effectiveness I presume. Would this
be the cutting edge of herbal medicine through self experimentation
(like those strange Northwestern Herbalists smoking Louseworts), or is
ultrasound/herbal treatments a common practice amongst those folks at the
conference?

BTW, I am glad your back here on this forum

Howie

-----
Date: Mon, 21 Nov 1994 22:12:24 -0700 (MST)
From: Michael Moore 
Subject: HYPERICUM and GAIA

I have retailed and wholesaled herbs for 20 years and have taught and
written about green stuff for 16 years (...and breathed and micturated for
almost 54), and I have only run across 1 person to have shown signs of
photosensitization from Hypericum.  He was a student of mine in an 8-month
program a few years ago.  He was what my grandma used to call "Black Irish"
(I guess as opposed to a Dirty-Blond Irish like myself) and had the
semi-transparent skin and jet-black hair of people like Liam or Patrick
Clancy.  Since he suffered from some mild hereditary neuropeptide
imbalances that showed up as a fairly classic long-cycle bipolarity, he was
quite taken with the use of the fresh tincture of both Hypericum perf. and
H. formosum which we gathered during a couple of field trips.

As he related a year later, he took a fly-fishing vacation after the class,
returning to a place in the San Juans of Colorado (8,500 feet) that the
class had visited.  He had been going through a depressive period ("Got
Those OLD Relationship Blues...scooby do-WOP.........scooby-
dooby...do-WOP!"), and was taking up to an ounce of the Hypericum tincture
(1:2, fresh plant) a day...a truly excessive amount (it's an Irish thing,
y'know?).  He broke out in hives that lasted nearly a month.  He casually
announced that he had been taking a pharmaceutical anti-depressant for
nearly a decade...I hadn't even noticed.  I guess I am too likely to take
people as they are without a second thought; an old friend announced one
day that Father Yod (...don't ask) had told him to stop smoking reefer.
He had been bombed every day for a decade and I hadn't noticed.  One of
my teachers mentioned he was on Prozac...and I hadn't noticed...maybe
that explains BOTH Orin Hatch and Dr. Kessler.

I figure the photosensitivity resulted from
A. Racial sensitivity
B. High altitude
C. VERY high dosage
D. (he was a Pisces)
 --and especially--
E. Synergy with antidepressant meds (that he declined to identify)

Several years later another man (a customer) had a lip herpes outbreak,
possibly the result of playing tennis in the sunlight while using Hypericum
to help some back pain.  He had had sun reactions before, so it is hard to
speculate further.
He too was Black Irish.

In both instances the herbs were taken internally and the media was a fresh
tincture...appropriate, since the dry herb is nearly inert.  The student
was using high quantities along with medication and the customer showed
little more than passing and perhaps serendipitous symptoms, and I have had
GALLONS of my Hypericum tincture and oil go through my grubbies over a
couple of decades (usually used by folks going through a stretch of
somato-psychic flakiness and often manifesting a peculiar, if temporary,
lack of judgement regarding emotions, dosages, and self-monitoring).  I
consider Hypericum to be safe...this is based on personally observing
hundreds of people who haved used quality Hypericum preparations (...mine).
 I would need a BIG study to convince me otherwise...or I would need to
start getting negative feedback.

This is not an idle statement.  Like the Wandering Homeopath, traveling the
world seeking provings (you mean you haven't heard THAT legend?  Well, the
way I hear it, old Dr. Kent had retired to practice in Montana and one day
this basque sheepherder came into his office...) I have always tried my
best to keep track of potential side-effects of herbs.  I use herbs
constitutionally, and any synergy or contraindication I encounter helps me
to understand the secondary effects of a remedy so I can try to fit herbs
and people together more reliably.

  Secondary effects are my grist (am I mixing metaphors again??).  I can't
work on Susun Weed's precepts level, that the body takes what it needs from
what you offer it, anymore than I can work with a phytopharmaceutical model
that ignores the multi-systemic effects of a plant while focusing only on a
specific band of pharmacokinetics...better even (they say) to refine
(reduce) DOWN to single constituents so as to better exaggerate the band
and diminish the "unwanted" whispers.  Sort of like taking a lovely image
and running it through Photoshop plugins until you only have some raggedy
and stark black-and-white outlines that bear little resemblance to the
source.  As most herbs, only using Hypericum for its anti-anxiety effects
is to ignore the subtle shades and colors it causes as it moves INTO,
THROUGH and OUT of the body.  This three-dimensional hologram of effects is
what makes herbs superior to drugs... in a wholistic model...and makes
drugs superior to herbs in a medical model.  To view herbs primarily as
safer "little sister" analogs to drug therapies developed FOR the medical
model is to be blind to the greater value they have in vitalist wholism,
and to avoid the greater task and difficulty (and even glory) we face
trying to build (rebuild) models of health and disease derived from balance
and imbalance.

In the decades ahead, as environmental disease increases, and multi-agent
reactions become more widespread, some of the real value of drugs and
classic pathology are going to diminish as disorders are increasingly going
to reflect an INDIVIDUAL'S constitutional response to the world.  It is
doubtful that medicine will be able to do much more than bandaid repairs as
the environment holds more and more complex organics capable of finding THE
constitutional weak link in our metabolism.  I was born the year WWII
began, and spent the first several decades in a world of fewer and less
"ripened" eco-toxins and ate food with fewer chemicals and fewer
"recombinants".  What about folks born the year Kennedy was
assassinated...or the year John Lennon was killed...having spent MOST or
ALL their lives in a subtle organochem soup?  The wholistic models hold
more long-term value.

If you wish to pursue this depressing subject further, start with the
excellent newsletter, RACHEL'S ENVIRONMENTAL & HEALTH WEEKLY, put out on
the net weekly by the Environmental Research Foundation, available from
 , or ,
 and the WWW site:


ALSO:
Peggy sez to Jonathan
>I am much in support of bioregionalist solutions and actually got my B.S.
>from Berkeley in Bioregional Energy and Renewable Resource Policy. From
>that point, I can say that "bioregional" is as much a "new age cliche" as
>anything else.  Berg came up with the term in the seventies, no?

I am shocked and alarmed...I spend many waking hours trying to find any new
age cliches in my psychic body and gouging them out with a rusty Democles'
sword.  As I have tirelessly/tiresomely stated (on this and any other lists
that won't toss me) I would like to see herbs used, gathered, known about
and dispensed locally.  The international trade is wasteful,
energy-expensive and miracle-pandering, and instead of dealing with herbs
as perishable plant substances, the biological activity is often seriously
impaired and many more plants are needed to produce a therapeutic activity.
 Local herbalism means more "medicine" from fewer plants.  I liked the term
bioregionalism...now I need to find another name.  By the way, who is this
Berg guy.  Alban Berg died in the late 30s before finishing "Lulu"...Steve
Berg is a living NFL quarterback.  Is this something HE said?

Michael

hrbmoore@rt66.com

-----
Date: Tue, 22 Nov 1994 22:22:51 -0800
From: moon2peg@NATURE.BERKELEY.EDU
Subject: Re: HYPERICUM AND PHOTOSENSITIVITY

Hi, Jonathan:

Thank you for the reply.  I suspected that incidents of phototox could be
found somewhere, just couldn't come up with them.  I understand that
Hypericin's anti-viral activities (in vitro) are dependent on "light-dose"
(wavelength and duration), drug-dosage, and the presence of oxygen.  It
makes sense, then that phototoxicity was found at the higher, long-term
usages (in addition to other factors).  Thank you, again.

Cheers-
Peggy

-----
Date: Tue, 22 Nov 1994 22:53:21 -0800
From: moon2peg@NATURE.BERKELEY.EDU
Subject: Re: Hypericum and Sunlight

Greetings Howie!
What a great post.  I love this:
>Or How John the Wort plays with the Sun
I've heard of photosynthesis described as ,"plants having fun with
sunlight."  Makes all the sense in the world to me.

>I don't know of any, Peggy. I have not heard of one case of human
>photosensitivity...even in the blond, blue-eyed, fair skinned ones...from
>standard dosages of tinture.
See Jon Treasures post...

>But albino cows definately have a problem with St. John's Wort.
Gee, wonder why it has such a bad rap!

>And so the authorities that be in charge (of cows and bugs, anyway) in
>Northern California has waged a war against the poor St. John, hapless victim
>of human transport from Europe. By releasing bugs from afar, they strive to
>rid our pasture of this scourage from the old country. Alas, for I
>wonder...when there are only small populations left in the area...will St John
>become a rare and protected plant??????
I actually took a botany class at UC Berkeley (CA Native Plantlife) in
which one of the wonderous professors suggested covering large areas of the
Central Valley with black plastic in order to eradicate St. John's Wort.
Sounds like a great contract for Dow Chemical, eh?

>But of interest to me was the notion that sunlight increased the Wort's
>anti-viral
>effects........that sun again......somehow..in some mysterious way linked to
>this plant and it's effects. Without exposure to sunlight....the herbs
>anti-viral effect dropped markedly.
Yes, and another really neat thing is that the hypericin (and its
phototoxicity in predator insects) is activated, in the presence of oxygen,
at the same wavelength that is given off by the Hypericum leaves in the
sun.(540-610 nm).  Some insects that ingest Hypericum have adapted by tying
together leaves and feeding inside the ties, therefore protecting
themselves from the effects of the hypericin.(Sandberg, SL, et al.
"Leaf-tying by tortricid larvae as an adaptation for feeding on phototoxic
Hypericum perforatum." JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL ECOLOGY, 1989 15(3):875-886.)

>I don't have all that much experience with bipolar and other mental disorders
>and Hypericum...although I believe that consistant dosages long term is the
>way to go.
See my reply to Jon..

>And this even tempered plant grows in disturbed places...roadsides, lots,
>loves it when its been bulldozed a year or so ago. A calming herb that grows
>all over disturbed areas...hmmmmm. Perhaps one shouldn't focus on the oddities
>and quirks of nature and coincidence....but I think it's cool.
Much agreed.

> But in my eyes it seems to have an affinity for the nerves
I used a Hypericum perforatum ointment that I made with lanolin and olive
oil on a ganglian cyst (regularly for two weeks).  The inflammation is gone
and I can bend the wrist backwards again.  No negative reactions on my
part.

>Up a little too late

Night-owl to night-owl..Cheers-
Peggy

-----
Date: Thu, 24 Nov 1994 15:31:23 +0000
From: Jonathan Treasure 
Subject: RE Hypericum

Well... I just got 88 pages of bumpf from NAPRALERT on Hypericum and there
isn't a single mention of phototoxicity - so it seems that apart from a
couple of anectdotal cases its not an issue as Michael Peggy Howie et aial
say .... just keep away from the ultra sound gel in the solarium

Further to the Wort being a lover of rosdsides etc Howie, it was widely
distributed through Europe in Roman times by marching legionaries, who also
used it soothe their sore feet. (another anecdote not in NAPRALERT)

jonathan

(jtreasure@jonno.demon.co.uk)

==========
THE END of Hypericum and Photosensitivity
==========