A Good Wort for Skin

While St. John's wort oil has traditionally been applied to the skin for wounds, burns, dermatitis and inflammation, topical use is just beginning to be studied. Because hypericum is photo-active, large amounts taken orally cause photosensitivity. German researchers recently determined that topical use of St. John's wort oil is unlikely to cause a severe skin reaction. However, applying St. John's wort oil topically may cause a rash in people with extremely sensitive or diseased skin or those who have had excessive sun exposure.1

German researchers recently explored why St. John's wort oil effectively treats inflammatory skin disorders. They discovered that it inhibits the immune cells called T lymphocytes, which in turn produce inflammatory cytokines.2

Marilyn Sterling


1. Schempp CM.
Effect of topical application of Hypericum perforatum extract (St. John's wort) on skin sensitivity to solar simulated radiation.
Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed 2000 Jun;16(3):125-8.

2. Schempp CM.
Topical application of St John's wort (Hypericum perforatum L.) and of its metabolite hyperforin inhibits the allostimulatory capacity of epidermal cells.
Br J Dermatol 2000 May;142(5):979-84.

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