Wiener Medizinische Wochenschrift

, Volume 165, Issue 11–12, pp 229–235 | Cite as

The mechanisms of action of St. John’s wort: an update

main topic


Pharmacological research confirms and supports the clinically observed antidepressant efficacy of St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum L., SJW). This contribution is an update of a former review by the authors in 2007. Positive evidence of antidepressant effects has been found with SJW preparations, extract fractions, and single constituents. The efficacy of SJW is obviously defined by a range of parallel mechanisms of action, triggered by different constituents. In vitro research showed, among other tests, positive effects in neurotransmitter regulation (in beta adrenergic systems and glutamate receptors) and ion channel conductance. Antidepressant effects were confirmed in typical in vivo models such as the forced swimming test, the open field test, the tail suspension test, or a model of stress-impaired memory. The overall effect cannot be attributed to a single constituent or fraction. SJW is therefore an outstanding example of the total extract being defined as the active constituent of herbal medicines.


Hypericum perforatum Active constituents Pharmacology 

Die Wirkmechanismen von Johanniskraut – Ein Update


Die pharmakologische Forschung bestätigt und unterstützt die klinisch beobachtete antidepressive Wirksamkeit von Johanniskraut (Hypericum perforatum L.). Dieser Beitrag ist ein Update eines früheren Reviews der Autoren aus dem Jahr 2007. Positive Evidenz für antidepressive Effekte wurde für Johanniskrautzubereitungen, Extraktfraktionen und isolierte Inhaltstoffe gefunden. Die Wirksamkeit von Johanniskraut beruht offenbar auf einer Reihe paralleler Wirkmechanismen, die ihrerseits von verschiedenen Inhaltstoffen ausgelöst werden. Die in vitro-Forschung ergab unter Anderem positive Effekte in der Regulation von Neurotransmitters (betraadrenerge Systeme und Glutamat-Rezeptor) sowie von Ionenkanälen. Eine Bestätigung antidepressiver Effekte fand sich auch in vivo in typischen Modellen wie Forced Swimming Test, Open Field Test, Tail Suspension Test oder einem Modell Stress-bedingt eingeschränkter Gedächtnisleistung. Der Gesamteffekt kann nicht einem einzelnen Inhaltstoff oder einer einzelnen Fraktion zugeordnet werden. Johanniskraut ist damit ein besonders anschauliches Beispiel dafür, dass bei Phytopharmaka der Gesamtextrakt als Wirkstoff zu betrachten ist.


Hypericum perforatum Wirkstoffe Pharmakologie 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Herbresearch GermanyTussenhausenGermany
  2. 2.Institut für Pharmazeutische Technologie, Hochschule für BiowissenschaftenFachhochschule NordwestschweizMuttenzSwitzerland

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