St John's Wort (Hypericum Perforatum)- Induced Psychosis

A Case Report

Maria Ferrara; Francesco Mungai; Fabrizio Starace


J Med Case Reports. 2017;11(137) 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Background: St John's wort (Hypericum perforatum) has been known for centuries for its therapeutic properties and its efficacy as an antidepressant has been confirmed by a growing body of evidence. During the last two decades it has also come to prominence with a wider public, due to advertising efforts across Europe and United States of America. However, its availability without prescription, as an over-the-counter medication, raises some concern regarding its clinical management and unsupervised administration to individuals with psychopathological risks. To date, the evidence available regarding the administration of Hypericum in people with severe mental health problems is still meager and refers mainly to affective disorder spectrum or psychotic relapse in people with established diagnoses. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report regarding the onset of psychotic features in a patient presenting with psychotic diathesis.

Case presentation: The case discussed in this report is a 25-year-old white man, not known to the psychiatric services, with a history of brief and self-remitting drug-induced psychosis and a positive family history of psychotic depression. He was admitted to hospital due to the onset of florid psychotic symptoms concomitant with self-administration of Hypericum perforatum.

Conclusions: The aim of this report is to promote further systematic research, draw the attention of clinicians to the potential risks of Hypericum precipitating psychosis, and raise awareness among health professionals to investigate and caution their patients on the haphazard use of phytotherapeutics such as Hypericum.