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 March 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 March 27, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, March 27, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Jockey Motion Tracking Reveals Racing Prowess

Jockey Motion Tracking Reveals Racing Prowess

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 26, 2015) Using motion tracking technology, researchers from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) are trying to establish an optimum horse riding style to train junior jockeys, as well as enhance safety, health and well-being of both racehorses and jockeys. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Botswana Talks to End Illegal Wildlife Trade

Botswana Talks to End Illegal Wildlife Trade

AFP (Mar. 25, 2015) Experts are gathering in Botswana to try to end the illegal wildlife trade that is decimating populations of elephants, rhinos and other threatened species. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Elephants Help Keep 18-Wheeler From Toppling Over

Elephants Help Keep 18-Wheeler From Toppling Over

Newsy (Mar. 25, 2015) The Natchitoches Parish Sheriff&apos;s Office discovered two elephants keeping a tractor-trailer that had gotten stuck in some mud upright on a highway. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Baby 'pet' Orangutan Rescued from Chicken Cage Takes First Steps

Baby 'pet' Orangutan Rescued from Chicken Cage Takes First Steps

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Mar. 25, 2015) Buti, a baby orangutan who was left malnourished in a chicken cage before his rescue, takes his first steps after months of painful physical therapy. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
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