Historical note St John's wort (SJW) has been used medicinally since ancient Greektimes when, it is believed, Dioscorides and Hippocrates used it to rid the body of evil spirits. Since the time of the Swiss physician Paracelsus (c. 1493-1 541), it has been used to treat neuralgia, anxiety, neurosis and depression. Externally, it has also been used to treat wounds, bruises and shingles. The name 'St John's wort' is related to its yellow flowers, traditionally gathered for the feast of St John the Baptist and the term 'wort' is the old English word for plant. St John's wort has enjoyed its greatest popularity in Europe and comprises 25% of all antidepressant prescriptions in Germany (Schrader 2000). In the past few decades its popularity has also grown in countries such as Australia and the United States.
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