Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Stress Makes St. John's Wort More Effective

Date:
September 6, 2000
Source:
Cornell University
Summary:
Here's a botanical twist: The more stress that is placed on wild populations of St. John's wort, the more effective the plant might be in warding off human depression.

NEW ORLEANS -- Here's a botanical twist: The more stress that is placed on wild populations of St. John's wort, the more effective the plant might be in warding off human depression.

Related Articles


Plant pathologists from Cornell University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have found that hypericin (pronounced hi-PARIS-in), an active ingredient in St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum) -- a popular herbal remedy for depression-- might be increased when the plant is attacked by predators such as insects.

"It appears to increase its own chemical arsenal to ward off attack from predators," says Donna M. Gibson, a USDA plant physiologist and Cornell adjunct professor of plant pathology. Gibson and Tara M. Sirvent, a Cornell plant pathology graduate student from Casper, Wyo., have developed a way to analyze the active chemical and other related compounds in the plant.

Sirvent and Gibson will present a poster, "Are hypericins involved in plant defense strategies of St. John's wort?" on Aug. 15 at the annual meeting of the American Phytopathological Society at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in New Orleans. The research was funded by the USDA's Agricultural Research Service and the agency's Foreign Agricultural Service.

The researchers dissolved the chemical components of the plant in a solution and separated them using a technique called high-performance liquid chromatography. This enabled the detection of individual compounds in the plant. Sirvent and Gibson examined wild populations and found plants that had been exposed to stress -- particularly attacks from insects -- had increased amounts of hypericin.

The level of hypericin determines the potency of St. John's wort sold over-the-counter, and as the plant's hypericin content increases so does its worth. While much of St. John's wort sold in stores is "wild-crafted" -- or picked from the wild -- commercially produced H. perforatum can fetch as much as $2,000 to $3,000 an acre.

In the marketplace, however, not all St. John's wort products are the same. Previous studies have shown that the amount of hypericin in the plant -- although usually labeled -- can vary from plant to plant, manufacturer to manufacturer, bottle to bottle and pill to pill. Thus Sirvent and Gibson are trying to determine how much of a role pre-harvest factors play in chemical differences. They are examining factors such as light, moisture, altitude and latitude; the plant parts; the plant's development stage; and the harvesting and handling practices that might affect the quality of the final product.

Additionally, variations in St. John's wort products sometimes occur because manufacturers mix species of H. perforatum.

The plant typically is gathered as a weedy species in the western United States, but some is being grown commercially in the Pacific Northwest. It also is found along roadways and in fields in the eastern United States. Hypericin is concentrated in little black nodules -- nearly imperceptible to the untrained eye -- that adorn the floral edges and the plant's leaves. Curiously, St. John's wort is considered a noxious weed that can cause hypericism, or blistering and dyeing of an animal's skin when it is eaten. Its scraggly, almost frail-looking stem produces a brilliant yellow flower cluster and it grows readily in rock quarries and in marginal areas such as roadsides, where little else grows.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cornell University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Cornell University. "Stress Makes St. John's Wort More Effective." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 September 2000. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/09/000904125730.htm>.
Cornell University. (2000, September 6). Stress Makes St. John's Wort More Effective. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/09/000904125730.htm
Cornell University. "Stress Makes St. John's Wort More Effective." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/09/000904125730.htm (accessed January 27, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Aquaponics Turn Suburban Industrial Park Into Farmland: Hume

Aquaponics Turn Suburban Industrial Park Into Farmland: Hume

The Toronto Star (Jan. 27, 2015) Ancient techniques of growing greens with fish and water are well ahead of Toronto bylaws. Video provided by The Toronto Star
Powered by NewsLook.com
How To: Mixed Green Salad Topped With Camembert Cheese

How To: Mixed Green Salad Topped With Camembert Cheese

Rumble (Jan. 26, 2015) Learn how to make a mixed green salad topped with a pan-seared camembert cheese in only a minute! Music: Courtesy of Audio Network. Video provided by Rumble
Powered by NewsLook.com
Water Fleas Prepare for Space Voyage

Water Fleas Prepare for Space Voyage

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Jan. 26, 2015) Scientists are preparing a group of water fleas for a unique voyage into space. The aquatic crustaceans, known as Daphnia, can be used as a miniature model for biomedical research, and their reproductive and swimming behaviour will be tested for signs of stress while on board the International Space Station. Jim Drury went to meet the team. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Husky Puppy Plays With Ferret

Husky Puppy Plays With Ferret

Rumble (Jan. 26, 2015) It looks like this 2-month-old Husky puppy and the family ferret are going to be the best of friends. Look at how much fun they&apos;re having together! Credit to &apos;Vira&apos;. Video provided by Rumble
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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