Pharmacopsychiatry 1998; 31: 7-15
DOI: 10.1055/s-2007-979340
Original Paper

© Georg Thieme Verlag Stuttgart · New York

Antidepressant Activity of Hypericum Perforatum and Hyperforin: the Neglected Possibility

S. S. Chatterjee, M. Nöldner, E. Koch, C. Erdelmeier
  • Research Department, Dr. Willmar Schwabe GmbH & Co., Karlsruhe, Germany
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20. April 2007 (online)


Efforts leading to the identification of hyperforin as an antidepressive component of therapeutically used alcoholic hypericum extracts are described and discussed. Initially, the effects of this unique and major constituent of the herb were detected in peripheral organs using in vitro models and an extract was obtained by supercritical extraction of the herb by carbon dioxide. These extracts are highly enriched in hyperforin (38.8 %) and are devoid of hypericines and numerous other components of alcoholic extracts. Studies with such an extract and with isolated hyperforin indicated that this acylphloroglucinol derivative can inhibit serotonin-induced responses and uptake of this neurotransmitter in peritoneal cells. Assuming that the effects of hyperforin were due to its actions on serotoninergic 5-HT3/5-HT4 receptors, further studies were conducted to investigate its effects on the CNS. These efforts revealed its antidepressant activity in the behavioral despair test and led to the working hypothesis that hyperforin and serotoninergic mechanisms are involved in the antidepressant activities of alcoholic hypericum extracts. The observations made during this study also indicate that hyperforin is the major, but not the only antidepressive component of alcoholic extracts.