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J Psychopharmacol. 2001 Mar;15(1):47-54.

Hypericum perforatum (St John's Wort): a non-selective reuptake inhibitor? A review of the recent advances in its pharmacology.

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Brain Sciences Institute, Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn Victoria, Australia.


Hypericum possesses a unique pharmacology in that it displays the pharmacology of many classes of antidepressants and new mechanisms not typical of standard antidepressants. The most potent of all its action is the moderate to high potency for inhibition of the reuptake of monoamines, serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline and the amino-acid neurotransmitters GABA and glutamate. Unlike standard reuptake inhibitors, hypericum exerts this reuptake inhibition non-competitively by enhancing intracellular Na+ ion concentrations. At a receptor level, chronic treatment with hypericum downregulates beta1-adrenoceptor, upregulates post-synaptic 5-HT1A receptors and 5-HT2 receptors. Although the major constituent responsible for the antidepressant effect is thought to be hyperforin, other constituents such as hypericin, pseudohypericin, flavonoids and oligomeric procyanidines may also play a direct or indirect role. While reuptake inhibition may more than likely be responsible for most of the antidepressant effect, other mechanisms may also contribute alone or in combination to exert the overall antidepressant action.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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