The Nervous System
Lesson 9, Page 14 of 19

All of the above are true.

Chinese Club Moss (Huperzine A)

A traditional Chinese herb, Chinese club moss (Huperzia serrata), contains a naturally-occurring chemical called Huperzine A, which acts as an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor (inhibits the enzyme that breaks down the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.) Current research shows that the effects of huperzine are similar to but potentially more potent than the drugs commonly prescribed for Alzheimer. Huperzine is without the negative side-effects of these drugs and is therefore much safer. Evidence also indicates that huperzine has neuroprotective effects, which means that it may help prevent further nerve damage. Huperzine A, or Chinese club moss, can be used along with Ginkgo biloba, which as we saw on the previous page, also hold promise for Alzheimer's disease. Huperzine A and Ginkgo are contained in Brain-Protex. (Note: Alzheimer's patients should also supplement with one tablespoon of coconut oil daily.)

St. John's Wort

According to a study published in the prestigious British Medical Journal, a popular folk medicine for depression and anxiety, St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum), worked better than placebos and commonly used anti-depressant drugs, and seems to be a better choice than drugs in many cases since side effects are significantly fewer. The compounds in the herb that are thought to have a therapeutic effect include anthracene derivatives, such hypericin, as well as flavonoids, xanthones, and bioflavonoids. (BMJ, August 3, 1996)

"Wort" comes from an Old English word meaning "plant" or "root." In this case the plant was named for St. John, also known as the Baptist, because it was observed that the herb bloomed around the time of St. John's Day. Information about the herb, however, predates Christianity. Native Americans used it dried as meal, as they did acorns. They also used the fresh leaves for their soothing effect. St. John's Wort has long been popular for replenishing the nervous system, especially when the brain seems depleted or when the nervous system is out of balance.

The principal ingredients in St. John's wort are hypericin and hyperforin, two natural compounds that help support the nervous system by minimizing the effects of minor depression. Hypericin and hyperforin when used alone, however, are not as likely to produce the same effects as when using the entire herb, which contains many other bioflavonoids and nutritional factors which work synergistically to produce the herb's overall effects.

St. John's wort appears to be most beneficial for anxiety, depression and nervous unrest. Research has demonstrated that its anti-depression effects are due to the its monoamine oxidase inhibiting function and to its ability to inhibit the reuptake of serotonin. Because of its high flavonoid content, it also has an anti-inflammatory action and has been successfully used externally to treat inflammation of the skin, wounds and burns.

St. John's wort is more effective when taken in concentrated form. When taken internally the usual recommended dosage is 300 mg of herb concentrated to 0.3% hypericin for a total of 1 mg of hypericin per capsule. This is taken three times a day, one with each meal. It should be taken for at least 6 weeks before deciding whether or not it is working, although some individuals report feeling better after just a few days. According to the medical literature 60 to 80% of depressed individuals respond well to this treatment.

Negative Reactions:

Laboratory experiments with animals have shown that large dosages of St. John's wort may increase sensitivity to sun light (may cause an increased tendency to sunburn.) Although this has never been seen in humans, to be on the safe side most herbalist advise users of St. John's wort to avoid excessive exposure to sun light or tanning booths when taking the herb. Due to its high tannin content, St. John's wort can also cause stomach upset in a some individuals. This potential problem can usually be avoided by taking it with meals. Overall, negative side-effects are rare and the herb is considered to be very safe.

While the effects of St. John's wort are a result of the synergistic actions of its many constituents, the natural chemical constituents that are considered to be the most important are ___________.

flavonoids and bioflavonoids
xanthones and pseudoxanthones
caffeine and ephedrine
hypericin and hyperforin
none of the above

(Select the best answer and click on the "Continue" button.)