The Medicalisation of Happiness: A History of St. John’s Wort

This thesis, submitted by Leah Songhurst to the University of Exeter in 2010, delves into the history of mild to moderate depression and the use of over-the-counter (OTC) St. John’s wort during the 1990s. The research not only explores the diagnosis and definition of mental illnesses, but also raises questions about the intersection between conventional and alternative medicine.

By analyzing various printed sources, including popular media articles, scientific and medical journal publications, and self-help books on St. John’s wort, the thesis uncovers several historical themes. It challenges existing medical historical studies of depression by arguing that they have presented a linear progression of depression histories and retrospectively diagnosed depression based on similar symptoms. Instead, the thesis asserts that illness should be understood within its own historical context.

During the 1990s, standardized St. John’s wort was marketed as a natural and safe remedy with a long medical history. This thesis reveals that while the plant has traditionally been used to treat physical illnesses, a growing skepticism towards conventional antidepressants, coupled with an interest in alternative medicine, led some individuals to turn to St. John’s wort for mild mood disorders. It also suggests that lay people have a history of self-treating minor mental illnesses using preparatory and OTC remedies.

The thesis further argues that the concept of responsible self-care and self-treatment gained traction in the 1990s, encouraging the reclassification of passive, mildly to moderately depressed patients as active consumers. The popular media coverage of depression and its treatments during this time was often confusing, with depression and the use of conventional medicines and St. John’s wort sometimes presented as part of a lifestyle choice.

Lastly, the thesis contends that by the 1990s, standardized St. John’s wort underwent the same scientific and medical scrutiny as conventional medicines, blurring the boundaries between conventional and alternative treatments. It highlights how the remedy represents a situation where the distinction between the two approaches has become increasingly indistinguishable.

St John’s Wort is a widely recognised medicinal plant that has been used for centuries to treat various medical conditions. With a rich history dating back to ancient Greece, this herb has been recommended by physicians for nervous and mood disorders, kidney infections, wound healing, and even to alleviate symptoms of gout and menstrual cramps. However, its most famous use is as a natural remedy for mild to moderate depression.

St John’s Wort has gained scientific recognition in modern times, with numerous studies and clinical trials conducted to assess its effectiveness as an antidepressant. It has been found to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol and enhance the production of a natural tranquiliser in the brain. This herb has also shown promise in treating Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS).

At our company, we take pride in crafting high-quality St John’s Wort tinctures. We ensure that our ingredients are either organically grown or wildcrafted from pesticide-free areas. Our meticulous extraction process guarantees that every drop of healing essence is captured in our tinctures. Packaged in blue glass bottles with pipette dropper tops, our 50ml tinctures are convenient to use. Simply add 20-30 drops, 2-3 times a day, to tea or water.

To maintain the potency of your tinctures, it is advisable to store them in a cool, dark cupboard. Our St John’s Wort tincture contains only two ingredients: St John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) and Vodka. We believe in the power of time and nature to create a truly effective herbal remedy.

Experience the benefits of St John’s Wort and discover the natural healing properties of this remarkable herb.