St John's wort (Hypericum perforatum) diminishes cognitive impairment caused by the chronic restraint stress in rats

Pharmacol Res. 2005 Mar;51(3):239-46. doi: 10.1016/j.phrs.2004.08.007.


In this study we tested the hypothesis that St John's wort (Hypericum perforatum) may counteract stress-induced memory impairment. Object recognition test and Morris water maze were used to determine whether administration of H. perforatum (350 mg kg(-1) for 21 days), standardized to 0.3% hypericin content, protects against non-spatial and/or spatial memory impairments due to chronic restraint stress (2h daily for 21 days). A group of rats administered the exogenous corticosterone at the dose of 5 mg kg(-1) daily for 21 days, yielding its similar plasma levels as these observed in stress was run in parallel. In the first experiment all rats were tested for recognition memory in the object recognition test. On the following day, the animals were tested in open field and elevated "plus" maze to control for the contribution of respectively, motor and emotional effects of our treatments to the memory tests. In the second experiment, new group of stressed animals was tested for spatial memory in the water maze. We observed that H. perforatum prevented the deleterious effects of both chronic restraint stress and long-term corticosterone on learning and memory as measured in both, the object recognition and the water maze tests. The herb not only prevented stress- and corticosterone-induced memory impairments, but it significantly improved recognition memory (p<0.01) in comparison to control. These results suggest that H. perforatum has a potential to prevent stress memory disorders.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cognition Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology
  • Hypericum*
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / drug effects
  • Maze Learning / physiology
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Restraint, Physical
  • Stress, Physiological / drug therapy*
  • Stress, Physiological / psychology


  • Plant Extracts