Depression and low density lipoprotein (LDL) elevation in the blood are important risk factors for atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. LDL is subject to easy oxidation, which is commonly seen in arteriosclerosis.
St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) is an herb commonly used for depression, which contains hyperforin and the phenolic chemicals hypericin and pseudohypericin. Hypericin is known to bind to LDL and is assumed to act as a LDL antioxidant. This property should be therapeutic to vascular disease, such as atherosclerosis. Vitamin E, which is commonly found in LDL, helps reduce lipid oxidation.
In this laboratory study, hypericin, pseudohypericin and hyperforin were evaluated for their ability to prevent lipid oxidation. The studies were done on cultured human cells and the LDL oxidation was induced by heavy metal ions.
The results of this study show that the above components of St. John’s Wort, at doses as low as 2.5 mmol/l, resulted in potent inhibition of LDL oxidation. Complete inhibition of oxidation was seen when the St. John’s Wort components were at 10 mmol/l concentration. All of the above components of St. John’s Wort and also vitamin E were shown to bind to LDL in blood plasma.
CONCLUSION: More clinical studies are needed. The chemicals found in St. John’s Wort are beneficial for depression and possibly therapeutic for atherosclerosis. There seems to be an association between depression and increased lipid peroxidation.
NOTE: People with elevated LDL-cholesterol and depression may do well on St. John’s Wort as a treatment for both. Vitamin E helps reduce oxidation when blood levels of LDL are elevated. Oxidation causes damage to parts of the body which contain fats and lipids.
Read about the effect of hypericin and growth of new blood vessels and retinopathy.
ASK YOUR DOCTOR FOR: Blood levels of HDL-cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol before and after trials on St. John’s Wort.
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