Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Study Finds St. John's Wort Can Cut Alcohol Consumption

Date:
June 29, 1998
Source:
University Of North Carolina At Chapel Hill
Summary:
Flowers from a plant called St. John's wort, which is used to treat mild to moderate depression in Europe, also reduce alcohol intake in laboratory animals, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researchers have discovered.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C.--Flowers from a plant called St. John's wort, which is used to treat mild to moderate depression in Europe, also reduce alcohol intake in laboratory animals, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researchers have discovered. The plant's active ingredient, hypericin, might prove effective in the fight against alcoholism, the scientists say.

"This is exciting - and simple -- because St. John's wort already is the most often prescribed antidepressant in Germany," said Dr. Amir H. Rezvani, research associate professor of psychiatry at the UNC-CH School of Medicine. "It is reported to be as effective as Prozac and produce fewer side effects."

Rezvani presented his findings Tuesday (June 23) in Hilton Head, S.C., at the annual meeting of the Research Society on Alcoholism. He also will present them in Copenhagen next week at a meeting of the International Society of Biomedical Research on Alcoholism.

St. John's wort, or Hypericum perforatrum, grows wild in Europe, western Asia, North Africa and in North America, particularly the Pacific Northwest, he said. It is a common wildflower with vivid yellow flowers edged with tiny black beads. When rubbed, the plant releases a red pigment containing hypericin.

The UNC-CH experiments involved rats that were selectively bred to prefer alcohol. When given a choice, such rats will consume little water, but much alcohol, said Rezvani, also adjunct associate professor of social medicine.

"In one set of experiments, we gave the compound to the rats by mouth and then gave them free access to water and alcohol for 24 hours," the scientist said. "We then measured their alcohol intake every two hours, and found that those receiving the compound drank less, about 50 percent less than the untreated animals."

Rezvani and his colleagues at the SkipperBowles Center for Alcohol Studies got the same results with two different strains of rodents -- P rats and fawn-hooded rats -- and also when they continued the experiments up to 15 days.

"We don't know yet whether the compound will work in human alcoholics, but we are optimistic," he said. "Since it is an herb, it should have no side effects or fewer side effects than synthetic drugs. One of the major problems with alcoholics is that they don't like to take medications that have side effects. St. John's wort might be different in that it would just reduce their desire for alcohol."

The scientist said he became curious about the herb after reading and hearing reports last year on its anti-depressive properties.

"I thought that since depression and alcoholism have a strong biological link, if it worked for depression, then it might just have a beneficial effect on alcoholism as well," he said. "Many people think the link may be a deficiency in serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain."

Since alcoholism is a complex disease, it is unlikely that any single "magic bullet" will be found that will prevent or cure it, Rezvani said. Still, combining several effective compounds that alter brain chemistry safely probably could lessen its severity in people motivated to change.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved St. John's wort for medical purposes.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of North Carolina At Chapel Hill. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of North Carolina At Chapel Hill. "Study Finds St. John's Wort Can Cut Alcohol Consumption." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 June 1998. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/06/980629073333.htm>.
University Of North Carolina At Chapel Hill. (1998, June 29). Study Finds St. John's Wort Can Cut Alcohol Consumption. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/06/980629073333.htm
University Of North Carolina At Chapel Hill. "Study Finds St. John's Wort Can Cut Alcohol Consumption." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/06/980629073333.htm (accessed August 22, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Friday, August 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors

Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) According to a new study, elderly people might have trouble sleeping because of the loss of a certain group of neurons in the brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) A new study found couples who had at least 150 guests at their weddings were more likely to report being happy in their marriages. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

AP (Aug. 20, 2014) Nine years after Hurricane Katrina, charter schools are the new reality of public education in New Orleans. The state of Louisiana took over most of the city's public schools after the killer storm in 2005. (Aug. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

AP (Aug. 19, 2014) Four Texas high school football programs are trying out an experimental system designed to diagnose concussions on the field. The technology is in response to growing concern over head trauma in America's most watched sport. (Aug. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins