Hypericum perforatum L. (Hypericaceae) (previously classified under the Clusiaceae) (common St. John’s Wort, HYPE) has a century’s old reputation for its medicinal uses and is best known as a treatment for mild to moderate depression. Topical applications for the treatment of wounds, burns, sunburns, and bruises also have a long tradition.
This review will only discuss the dermatological use of this popular herb because we are not consuming SeneGence products! Remember – we do not ingest LipSense, so any mood enhancing benefits should be attributed to knowing our lips are on point, not the HYPE!
HYPE is an upright, perennial herb, with a woody base, typically 1-3 feet tall. The flowers have 5 yellow petals. The leaves are typically 1-2 inches long, arranged opposite on the stem, round-tipped, and have scattered translucent dots that can be easily seen when held up to the light. This trait is responsible for the name perforatum. It is native to western Europe, North Africa, and Western Asia and has been subdivided into four subspecies. At this time, only one subspecies has been introduced to North America, which is the subspecies perforatum (eFloras, 2017).
Herbologists and traditional healers around the world have used HYPE for tumors, sciatic pain, sores, lesions, broken skin, bruises, and wounds of all types since antiquity (Hutchens 1991). Recent pharmacological research supports the topical application of oils or tinctures made from HYPE. These oils, macerates, and tinctures contain hypericin and hyperforin. These compounds have been shown to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticancer and antimicrobial activities. The clinical rationale for using HYPE to treat wounds is attributed to the stimulation of cell migration, collagen production, and keratinocyte differentiation (keratinocyte cells compose 90% of the epidermis), in addition to antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory activities (Wolfle, 2014). Active ingredients of St. John’s Wort are also being researched for anti-cancer and anti-HIV treatments!
Antimicrobial activity found in HYPE oils has been attributed to the presence of hypericin and hyperforin.
Antioxidant effects of HYPE can be attributed to containing up to 10% of the well-known antioxidant – flavonoids.
Traditionally, HYPE is prepared for topical use by creating an olive oil macerate. The active ingredients are extracted by soaking the dried or fresh bruised above-ground parts of HYPE in olive oil (Hutchens, 1991) (Suntar, 2010). A typical treatment includes placing the jar of olive oil and dried plant parts in 12 hours of direct light/day for about 4 weeks. Tinctures of HYPE extracted with ethanol are mentioned in the literature. However, experimental data in a clinical setting comparing tinctures vs oil macerates is not available at this time.
Concerns and Cautions!
In spite of the extensive medicinal uses, HYPE should be approached with caution. Taking HYPE orally has been linked to many severe interactions with a variety of medications! The University of Maryland Medical Center has a long list! Check it out!
HYPE is considered to be an agricultural weed in the US. It aggressively establishes through stolons (lateral above ground stems), increases the following disturbance and can cause severe photosensitization (blisters and lesions) when grazed by livestock (Sheahan, 2012). In Russia, it is known as Zveroboi, which means “killing the beast” or “beast killer” (Hutchens, 1991). Don’t worry – I have GOOD NEWS! It has been determined topical application (or oral doses) of HYPE does not cause photosensitization in humans (Wolfle, 2014).
HYPE in SeneGence products (not, hype. HYPE!)
SeneGence specifically states they use an extract from flower, leaf, and stem but are not specific in how actives are extracted for preparation in LipSense or how much of the active ingredient is included. This is proprietary information- probably so other companies can’t get their hands on SeneGence formulas. It is reasonable to assume the amount of HYPE you are exposed to while using LipSense is negligible and not of concern, especially since it is the 11th ingredient listed (and we are not ingesting it).
The long held beliefs in the healing powers of this plant are now backed up by actual clinical trials. HYPE is used to heal wounds because it helps with the stimulation of cell migration, collagen production, and differentiation of basal epidermis cells. Increased cell migration, more collagen and faster production of basal skin cells are things sought after with all skin care! LipSense is skin care!
Active ingredients in HYPE are also known for their antibacterial and antimicrobial effects. Of course, these findings are related to wounds on the human skin, not a tube of alcohol based lipstick. However, tinctures of HYPE extracted with alcohol were found to contain hypericin (Wolfle, 2014), so it is possible.
The Bottom Line: Centuries of use does not lie, topical application of oils or tinctures made from Hypericum perforatum is good for your skin.
Products that contain HYPE: LipSense, LinerSense, and LipSense Diamonds
- eFloras. (2017, April 12). Flora of China. Retrieved from eFloras: http://www.efloras.org
- Hutchens, A. R. (1991). Indian herbology of North America. Boston, Mass: Shambhala.
- Orhan, I. M. (2013). Assessment of Antimicrobial and antiprotozoal activity of the olive oil macerate sample of Hypericum perforatum and their LC-DAD-MS analyses. Food Chem, 870-875.
- Sheahan, C. (2012). Fact Sheet for common St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum). Cape may, NJ: USDA-NRCS. Retrieved from http://www.plants.usda.gov.
- Suntar, I. E. (2010). Investigations on the in vivo wound healing potential of Hypericum perforatum L. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 468-477.
- Wolfle, U. G. (2014). Topical Application of St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum). Planta Med, 109-120.
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