In this age of antidepressant overprescribing, popular herbal preparations of St. John's Wort have become an excellent first line of defense in mild depression for those concerned about pharmaceutical side effects. But did you know that a diluted homeopathic form of St. John's Wort is highly useful for a wide variety of additional health-related problems? Homeopathic Hypericum perforatum, named for the Latin genus and species of the plant, is effective for many conditions that involve nerve injuries and puncture wounds.
I remember my first experience with Hypericum in medical school. A woman with chronic arm pain resulting from a severe injury to her "funny bone" (a large nerve exposed at the elbow called the ulnar nerve) consulted the physician with whom I was doing a preceptorship. Previously an accomplished guitar player, she had endured years of pain and, in spite of surgery to the nerve, was no longer able to perform. The doctor prescribed several doses of homeopathic Hypericum and, within a few weeks, she experienced a 50 percent reduction in pain. This simple case example illustrates the most common indication for Hypericum -- injuries to nerves.
There are a number of areas of the body that are rich in nerves, most notably the fingertips, tailbone, and eyes. Because of the high density of nerve endings in these areas, they can become very painful when injured. We all know how painful an injury as minor as a paper cut can be. The good news is that cuts, bruises, and crush injuries to the fingertips will respond quite nicely to homeopathic Hypericum. Just a few doses can help reduce pain and speed the healing process.
A common feature of nerve injuries is that pain often radiates along the nerve starting from the site of the injury. An example of this type of nerve injury occurs when a person falls and lands on his or her tailbone. The tip of the spine, or coccyx, is essentially where the spinal cord ends, and injuries to this area can be very painful. I was once consulted by a young man who had severely injured his tailbone. He reported years of suffering, primarily in the form of nerve pains that radiated from his coccyx down both legs. His condition had turned something as basic as walking into a painful experience. Periodic doses of Hypericum over the course of several months rendered him virtually pain free.
Likewise, a direct injury to the eyeball that results in sharp, sticking, nerve-like pains may respond well to Hypericum. In such cases, it is very reasonable to take a few doses of Hypericum in quick succession followed by a prompt medical evaluation in order to rule out potential complications and ensure a safe recovery.
The other main indication for Hypericum is for the effects of puncture wounds. Whether the injury is from a needle, a nail, a splinter, a shard of glass, or an insect stinger, the administration of a few doses of Hypericum in the initial phase of such injuries is a good precaution to take in order to prevent pain, inflammation, and further complications. Again, depending on the type and extent of injury, a physician should be consulted if infection is suspected or if problems persist.
I once saw a woman who complained of chronic nerve pain radiating down her leg. She was certain that the pain had begun after she was given an epidural injection to manage pain during labor and delivery. Here, we see an interesting conjunction of Hypericum indications, a puncture wound via injection administered to a nerve center of the body, the spinal cord. Thankfully, periodic doses of Hypericum resulted in the complete disappearance of her pain within a couple of months.
The very same conjunction of circumstances occurs during routine dentistry. Lidocaine injections are used to block nerves innervating the roots of teeth. This modern anesthetic miracle can prevent dentistry from being a harrowing experience, but the aftermath can be painful. It is not that uncommon that this type of dental anesthesia can lead to chronic symptoms like facial numbness, tingling, and pain associated with the location of the injection. This is why I recommend a couple of routine doses of Hypericum to my patients to be taken immediately after completion of dental visits in order to prevent such complications. For the same reasons, I also recommend it after tooth extractions and root canals.
It should be noted that homeopathic Hypericum perforatum is not the same as herbal St. John's Wort and neither is it a nutritional supplement. Herbal and homeopathic forms of St. John's Wort have different indications and different guidelines for their usage. Another difference is that homeopathic Hypericum comes in very diluted form and is FDA approved and regulated. This article offers only a brief introduction to some of the uses of this wonderful medicine. It's reputation for safety and effectiveness is well known. Hypericum is sold over the counter at most natural health stores and is easy to use with a little self-education regarding homeopathic medicines and how to use them for first-aid purposes.
More on Hypericum perforatum:
Herbal use: St. John's Wort & Depression
Homeopathic use: Hypericum perforatum - Homeopathic First Aid Remedy, by Deborah Olenev C.C.H., RSHom (NA)
Frans Vermeulen, Concordant Materia Medica, Emryss Publishers, Haarlem, The Netherlands, 2000, pp. 794-98
Larry Malerba, D.O., DHt is the author of Green Medicine: Challenging the Assumptions of Conventional Health Care, published by North Atlantic Books. He has been a practitioner, educator and leader in the field of holistic medicine for more than 20 years.
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