The growth of new blood vessels (angiogenesis, also known as neovascularization) is the cause of blindness in many eye patients. Angiogenesis is involved in tumor growth, retinopathies (including ischemic retinopathy,) psoriasis, osteoarthritis, atherosclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. New blood vessels cause loss of vision in premature births and diabetic retinopathy. The new blood vessels overgrow, thereby occluding the vision.
Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a protein which stimulates a number of chemicals which regulate blood vessel growth within the retina in eye disease. Methods of inhibiting VEGF production may serve as treatments of eye disease by reducing angiogenesis.
The authors studied St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) because it inhibits certain pathways which cause angiogenesis in mice. St. John’s Wort contains hypericin, hyperforin, tannins and flavonoids. Newborn mice were given doses of high oxygen to cause neovascularization. Then, some of the mice were treated with hypericin and some were not. St. John’s Wort was shown to inhibit the formation of new blood vessels in the oxygen damaged eyes.
CONCLUSION: Treatment with hypericin and St. John’s Wort reduce retinal neovascularization (angiogenesis) and could be useful clinically for treating ischemic retinopathies.
NOTE: Hypericin is one of the principal ingredients of the herb, St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum.) Pseudohypericin is another. St. John’s Wort is used for depression, primarily.
St. John’s Wort can to reduce the production of ACTH and corticosterone in chronic stress. This reduces the sodium retention and the high blood pressure (hypertension) seen in chronic stress.
St. John’s Wort can reduce blood levels of LDL-cholesterol. It has the potential side effects of reducing blood levels of certain pharmaceutical drugs and reducing sperm motility and fertility in men using it.
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