ST JOHN’S WORT IN EVERYDAY LIFE: ST JOHN’S WORT AND SOCIAL PHOBIA

Posted on December 9, 2009, under Anti Depressants-Sleeping Aid.

Social phobia, one of the most common hidden causes of distress and anxiety in everyday life, is estimated to affect approximately one in eight adults. People with this problem have a persistent and powerful fear of being scrutinized, evaluated or being judged by others. As you can imagine, this condition results in considerable impairment of functioning as it prevents people from asserting themselves in work or social situations. Although people with this difficulty may simply appear shy to outsiders, actually they spend a great deal of time worrying about being embarrassed, and engaging in painful fantasies of being ridiculed or humiliated.

According to Dr Michael Liebowitz of Columbia University in New York, a pioneering researcher in the field of social phobia, there are several lines of evidence suggesting that brain pathways involving the neurotransmitter dopamine are disturbed in social phobia. To a somewhat lesser extent, pathways involving serotonin also seem to be involved in this condition. Studies indicate that anti-depressants may be of some value in the treatment of social phobia. As St John’s Wort has been shown to influence both dopamine and serotonin pathways, there is reason to consider that the herbal remedy might be of some benefit in social phobia. As several of the stories in this book have indicated, after starting the herbal remedy a number of people report becoming more outgoing and less shy, and more willing to take the initiative in a social or work situation.

Currently social phobia is a greatly undertreated problem, in part because it is not recognized by clinicians but perhaps also because the very symptoms of the condition – fear of being judged and humiliated – may prevent people from bringing their problem to the attention of a professional. For these people, an herbal remedy that can be purchased over the counter may be enormously appealing. Although formal studies of this use of the herb are needed, early evidence suggests that if you are painfully shy or afraid of making a social overture or asserting yourself, St John’s Wort may really be worth a try.

As we can see, there are many possible roles for St John’s Wort in everyday life – for stress, low energy, down feelings, insomnia, premenstrual symptoms and painful shyness. Small wonder that the ancients thought this herb capable of miracles, and attributed magical powers to it.

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