Hypericum

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Hypericum
Hypericum calycinum
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Plantae
(unranked):Angiosperms
(unranked):Eudicots
(unranked):Rosids
Order:Malpighiales
Family:Hypericaceae
Subfamily:Hypericoideae
Tribe:Hypericeae
Genus:Hypericum
L.
Species

Around 400, see text

Synonyms

Adenotrias Jaub. & Spach
Androsaemum Duhamel
Androsemum Link
Ascyrum L.
Lianthus N.Robson
Olympia Spach
Sanidophyllum Small
Sarothra L.
Takasagoya Y.Kimura
Triadenia Spach

 
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Hypericum
Hypericum calycinum
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Plantae
(unranked):Angiosperms
(unranked):Eudicots
(unranked):Rosids
Order:Malpighiales
Family:Hypericaceae
Subfamily:Hypericoideae
Tribe:Hypericeae
Genus:Hypericum
L.
Species

Around 400, see text

Synonyms

Adenotrias Jaub. & Spach
Androsaemum Duhamel
Androsemum Link
Ascyrum L.
Lianthus N.Robson
Olympia Spach
Sanidophyllum Small
Sarothra L.
Takasagoya Y.Kimura
Triadenia Spach

Hypericum (pron.: /ˌhˈpɪərɨkəm/)[1] is a genus of about 400 species of flowering plants in the family Hypericaceae (formerly often considered a subfamily of Clusiaceae).

The genus has a nearly worldwide distribution, missing only from tropical lowlands, deserts and polar regions. All members of the genus may be referred to as St. John's wort, though they are also commonly just called hypericum, and some are known as tutsan. The marsh St. John's-worts are nowadays separated into the genus Triadenum.

Hypericums vary from herbaceous annual or perennials 5–10 cm tall to shrubs and small trees up to 12 m tall. The leaves are opposite, simple oval, 1–8 cm long, either deciduous or evergreen. The flowers vary from pale to dark yellow, and from 0.5–6 cm in diameter, with five (rarely four) petals, most having prominent stamens. The fruit is usually a dry capsule which splits to release the numerous small seeds; in some species it is fleshy and berry-like.

Contents

Uses of Hypericum

Hypericum calycinum cv. 'Hidcote'

Some species are used as ornamental plants and have large, showy flowers. Numerous hybrids and cultivars have been developed for use in horticulture, such as H. × moserianum[2] (H. calycinum × H. patulum), H. 'Hidcote'[3] and H. 'Rowallane'[4]. All of the above cultivars have gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.

St. John's-worts can occur as nuisance weeds in farmland and gardens. On pastures, some can be more than a nuisance, causing debilitating photosensitivity and sometimes abortion in livestock. The beetles Chrysolina quadrigemina, Chrysolina hyperici and the St. John's-wort Root Borer (Agrilus hyperici) like to feed on Common St. John's-wort (H. perforatum) and have been used for biocontrol where the plant has become an invasive weed.

Hypericum species are the only known food plants of the caterpillar of the Treble-bar, a species of moth. Other Lepidoptera species whose larvae sometimes feed on Hypericum include Common Emerald, The Engrailed (recorded on Imperforate St. John's-wort, H. maculatum), Grey Pug and Setaceous Hebrew Character.

Medical properties

Hypericum olympicum in Botanic garden Liberec

Common St. John's-wort (H. perforatum) has long been used in herbalism. It was known to have medical properties in Classical Antiquity and was a standard component of theriacs, from the Mithridate of Aulus Cornelius Celsus' De Medicina (ca. 30 CE) to the Venice treacle of d'Amsterdammer Apotheek in 1686. Folk usages included oily extract ("St. John's oil") and Hypericum snaps.

H. perforatum is the most potent species and it is today grown commercially for use in herbalism and medicine; other St. John's-worts possess interesting properties and chemical compounds but are not well researched. As these secondary compounds appear to be related to deterring herbivores, they are present in varying and unpredictable quantities: still, a number of high-yield cultivars have been developed.

Two main compounds of interest have been studied in more detail: hyperforin and hypericin. However, the pharmacology of H. perforatum is not resolved, and at least its antidepressant properties are caused by a wide range of factors interacting. As psychiatric medication, it is usually taken as pills, or as tea. Few standardised preparations are available, and research has mainly studied alcoholic extracts and isolated compounds. What research data exists supports a noticeable effect in many cases of light and medium depression,[5] but no significant improvement of severe depression and OCD.

Another common use of H. perforatum is as an oily extract: the ruby-red oil appears to be strongly antibiotic[citation needed], assisting healing of wounds,[6][7] first-degree burns[citation needed] and concussions[citation needed]. Both hypericin and hyperforin are reported to have antibiotic properties.[8] Justifying this view with the then-current doctrine of signatures, herbalist William Coles (1626–1662)[9] wrote in the 17th century that

"The little holes where of the leaves of Saint Johns wort are full, doe resemble all the pores of the skin and therefore it is profitable for all hurts and wounds that can happen thereunto."

There is evidence that St. John's-worts can act as abortifacients since interference with the Combined oral contraceptive pill has occurred.[citation needed] Complications have also been observed in other human patients: high-dosage H. perforatum interacts with a wide range of medications due to activation of the Pregnane X receptor detoxification pathway, as well as causing photosensitivity. It is strongly recommended not to take St. John's-wort during pregnancy or when tanning, and it has caused a few deaths in patients undergoing anti-HIV/AIDS and cancer therapy.[citation needed] Extremely high doses (rarely reached with OTC preparations) are hepatotoxic.[citation needed] Hypericum extract, by inducing both the CYP3A4 and the P-glycoprotein (P-gp), can reduce the plasma concentrations of different antineoplastic agents such as imatinib, irinotecan and docetaxel, thus reducing the clinical efficacy of these drugs.[10]

Hypericum perforatum may be capable of reducing the physical signs of opiate withdrawal.[11]

Hypericum is a common treatment in homeopathy, used for the healing of deep wounds or as a relief from depression.

Selected species

Hypericum coris
Hypericum ericoides, fruiting
Hypericum inodorum cv. 'Magical Passion'
Hypericum lanceolatum
Hypericum tomentosum

See also

References

  1. ^ Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607
  2. ^ http://apps.rhs.org.uk/plantselector/plant?plantid=1007
  3. ^ http://apps.rhs.org.uk/plantselector/plant?plantid=1001
  4. ^ http://apps.rhs.org.uk/plantselector/plant?plantid=1005
  5. ^ A Szegedi, R Kohnen, A Dienel, M Kieser (2005). "Acute treatment of moderate to severe depression with hypericum extract WS 5570 (St John's wort): randomised controlled double blind non-inferiority trial versus paroxetine". BMJ (Clinical research ed.) 330 (7490): 503. doi:10.1136/bmj.38356.655266.82. PMC 552808. PMID 15708844. http://www.bmj.com/content/330/7490/503.full.
  6. ^ Samadi S, Khadivzadeh T, Emami A, Moosavi NS, Tafaghodi M, Behnam HR"The effect of Hypericum perforatum on the wound healing and scar of cesarean." J Altern Complement Med. 2010 Jan;16(1):113-7
  7. ^ Süntar IP, Akkol EK, Yılmazer D, Baykal T, Kırmızıbekmez H, Alper M, Yeşilada E"Investigations on the in vivo wound healing potential of Hypericum perforatum L. J Ethnopharmacol. 2009 Oct 12;
  8. ^ Schempp CM, Pelz K, Wittmer A, Schöpf E, Simon JC (June 1999). "Antibacterial activity of hyperforin from St John's wort, against multiresistant Staphylococcus aureus and gram-positive bacteria". Lancet 353 (9170): 2129. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(99)00214-7. PMID 10382704.
  9. ^ William Coles. "Adam in Eden, or: earth's Paradise". http://copac.ac.uk/wzgw?id=09040327d555a7d0a9d3e2c741c82c07ca3d38&rsn=2&esn=F&f=u&rn=1. Retrieved 2009-04-04.
  10. ^ Caraci F, Crupi R, Drago F, Spina E.,"Metabolic drug interactions between antidepressants and anticancer drugs: focus on selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and hypericum extract." Curr Drug Metab. 2011 Jul 1;12(6):570-7
  11. ^ Subhan F, Khan N, Sewell RD"Adulterant profile of illicit street heroin and reduction of its precipitated physical dependence withdrawal syndrome by extracts of St John's wort (Hypericum perforatum)". Phytother Res. 2009 Apr;23(4):564-71

External links

University of Illinois Extension. "Selecting Shrubs for Your Home - Kalm St. Johnswort (Hypericum kalmianum)". http://www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/shrubselector/detail_plant.cfm?PlantID=359.