Naturally increases serotonin similarly to SSRI drugs. Serotonin is considered the “mood” hormone, but is also tied to pain pathways. Low serotonin is associated with chronic pain. Increasing serotonin with St. John’s wort or drug therapy can benefit both mood and pain perception. Hypericum essential oil applied topically is very beneficial for painful joints. St. John’s wort is also known to have antiviral and antibacterial properties.
Side effects: Generally very well tolerated. Side effects are rare and include mild stomach upset, itching, rash, fatigue, and hair loss. Caution is advised if used with drugs that affect dopamine, but no other drug interactions are known. Vitex can be used to enhance fertility, but should be discontinued after becoming pregnant. It can be used with breastfeeding.