Alternative Health Information

Treating West Nile Virus with High Quality St. Johns Wort

West Nile Virus, although new to the U.S., iswell-documented. The Centers for Disease Controlidentifies it as a flavivirus, a member of theTogavirus family. It is closely related to yellowfever and dengue fever. This is important becausethe Togavirus family are encapsulated viruses,i.e., they are covered with a lipid (fatty)coating.

This is exciting, because it means the virus isaccessible to treatment utilizing high quality St.John's Wort (SJW). Several studies have been doneon a variety of encapsulated viruses, includingherpes simplex virus types 1 and 2, parainfluenzavirus, vaccinia virus, cytomegalovirus and severalretroviruses including HIV1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 9, 10.

Non-encapsulated viruses or "naked" viruses werealso studied for comparison purposes10,13.

SJW was a potent anti-viral agent across a variety ofencapsulated virus families, but showed noactivity against naked viruses.

Unlike a vaccine that is specific to eachorganism, SJW is active against encapsulatedviruses by a variety of mechanisms, includinglight activation, interference with DNAtranscription, impairing the assembly of intactviral particles and the lipophilic (fat-loving)nature of the ring structures (the quinone andphenolic groups)4, 6, 7, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15. These ring structures are critical to the biologicactivity of SJW.

From these results, it is reasonable to use highquality, pharmaceutical grade SJW in combatingWest Nile Virus, since there are no effectivepharmaceutical agents.

Quality is critical since the level of hypericin and pseudohypericin arekey. I can only recommend the SJW productproduced by Medi-Herb, which is a pharmaceuticalhouse in Australia, adhering to pharmaceuticalmanufacturing standards. The product isdistributed by Standard Process throughalternative health care practitioners, includingdoctors of chiropractic, acupuncturists andveterinarians. SJW is quite unstable and theactive ingredients degrade on store shelves. Anindependent analysis of 3 products (all of whichwere certified to contain 0.3% hypericin) wereshown to be widely variant, with one product 25%below label claims. It is critically importantthat the phytochemical integrity of the wholeplant be preserved for maximum efficacy.16

References:1Andersen DO, Weber ND, Wood SG et al. AntiviralRes 1991; 16(2): 185-196.2Lopez-Bazzocchi I, Hudson JB, Towers GHN.Photochem.Photopbiol. 1991; 54(1): 95-98.3Moraleda G, Wu TT, Jilbert AR et al. AntiviralRes 1993; 20: 235-247.4Tang J, Colacino JM, Larsen SH et al. AntiviralRes 1990; 13 (6): 313-325.5Hudson JB, Harris L, Towers GHN. Antiviral Res1993; 20 (2):173-178.6Lenard J, Rabson A, Vanderoef R. Proc Natl AcadSci USA 1993; 90 (1): 158-162.7Degar S, Prince AM, Pascual D et al. AIDS Res HumRetroviruses 1992; 8 (11): 1929-1936.8Carpenter S, Kraus GA. Photochem Photobiol 1991;53 (2): 169-174.9Lavie G, Valentine F, Levin B et al. Proc NatlAcad Sci USA 1989; 86 (15): 5963-5967.10Meruelo D, Lavie G, Lavie D et al. Proc NatlAcad Sci USA 1988; 85 (14): 5230-5234.11Kraus GA, Pratt D, Tossberg J et al. BiochemBiophys Res Commun 1990; 172 (1): 149-153.12Takahashi I, Nakanishi S, Kobayashi E et al.Biochem Biophys Res Commun 1989; 165 (3):1207-1212.13De Witte P, Agostinis P, Van Lint J et al.Biochem Pharmacol 1993; 46 (11): 1929-1936.14Panossian AG, Gabrielian E, Manvelian V et al.Phytomed 1996; 3 (1): 19-28.15Lavie G, Mazur Y, Lavie D et al. Transfusion1995; 35 (5): 392-400.16Constantine GH, Karchesy J. Variations inHypericin concentrations in Hypericum perforatum L. and commercial products. PharmaceuticalBiology 1998; 36 (5): 365-367.

Dr. N. Rowan Richards was recently awarded thedistinction of being one of the top fivechiropractors in the state of California.She is a Diplomate of the American Board ofChiropractic Internists, a certified herbalist,and a Fellow of the International Academy ofClinical Acupuncture. Dr. Richards has been inpractice for over seventeen years providing caring, individualizedcomplete alternative health care in the Los Angeles area.Her web site is


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