St John's wort - Hypericum perforatum

This information explains what St John's wort is used for, how it works, possible side effects and interactions with other medicines.

Your stories

Talking made me feel less alone

Jess blogs about her experience of opening up about her mental health and the support she received as a result

Posted on 06/02/2014

Managing anxiety with creativity

Damien blogs for us about using creativity to manage his anxiety.

Posted on 04/03/2014

Is St John's wort a licensed medication?

St John’s wort products are licensed by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). This organisation is responsible for licensing herbal medicines in the UK under the Traditional Herbal Medicines Registration scheme. Under this scheme, registration is based on the long-standing use of a plant as a traditional herbal medicine, and is not based on clinical trials.

Licensed St John’s wort products should be marked with the registration mark shown here.

THR_logo _mini _st Johns Wort

This indicates that the herbal medicine is safe to an acceptable standard, provided it is used according to the instructions on the packaging. The product should also have a registration number, starting with the letters ‘THR’.

Can I get St John’s wort on prescription?

St John’s wort is available on prescription in many European countries. However, the use of St John’s wort is not currently recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) so doctors in England and Wales do not normally write prescriptions for it.

This is because of uncertainty about appropriate doses, variations in preparations and the potentially dangerous interactions that it has with other commonly used medications. See our information on interactions with medication.

Although doctors are advised not to prescribe St John's wort, you can buy it over the counter. It is readily available in pharmacies and in many health food shops.

This information was published in January 2017. We will revise it in 2020.

Mental Health A-Z

Information and advice on a huge range of mental health topics

> Read our A-Z


Helping you to better understand and support people with mental health problems

> Find out more

Special offers

Check out our promotional offers on print and digital booklets, for a limited time only

> Visit our shop today