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Clinical data
Routes of
ATC code
  • none
Legal status
Legal status
  • US: OTC
  • In general: unscheduled
Pharmacokinetic data
Metabolism Hepatic and CYP3A & CYP2B
Elimination half-life 9-19.64 hours
CAS Number
PubChem CID
ECHA InfoCard 100.112.565 Edit this at Wikidata
Chemical and physical data
Formula C35H52O4
Molar mass 536.784973
3D model (JSmol)
Melting point 79–80 °C (174–176 °F)
Solubility in water 0.66 mg/mL (20 °C)
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Hyperforin is a phytochemical produced by some of the members of the plant genus Hypericum, notably Hypericum perforatum (St John's wort).[1] Hyperforin is attributed to provide the main antidepressant effect of St. John's wort,[1] although there is little clinical evidence that hyperforin and St. John's wort have any effect on depression.


Hyperforin has only been found in significant amounts in Hypericum perforatum with other related species such as Hypericum calycinum containing lower levels of the phytochemical.[1] It accumulates in oil glands, pistils, and fruits, probably as a plant defensive compound.[2] Other Hypericum species contain low amounts of hyperforin.[3]


Hyperforin is a prenylated phloroglucinol derivative. The structure of hyperforin was elucidated by a research group from the Shemyakin Institute of Bio-organic Chemistry (USSR Academy of Sciences in Moscow) and published in 1975.[4][5] A total synthesis of the non-natural enantiomer of hyperforin was reported in 2010[6] and a total synthesis of the natural enantiomer was disclosed in 2012.[7]

Hyperforin is unstable in the presence of light and oxygen.[8]


Some pharmacokinetic data on hyperforin is available for an extract containing 5% hyperforin. Maximal plasma levels (Cmax) in human volunteers were reached 3.5 hours after administration of an extract containing 14.8 mg hyperforin. Biological half-life (t1/2) and mean residence time were 9 hours and 12 hours, respectively, with an estimated steady state plasma concentration of 100 ng/mL (approx. 180 nM) for 3 doses per day. Linear plasma concentrations were observed within a normal dosage range and no accumulation occurred.[9]

In healthy male volunteers, 612 mg dry extract of St. John's wort produced hyperforin pharmacokinetics characterised by a half life of 19.64 hours.[10]


Hyperforin may be a constituent responsible for the antidepressant and anxiolytic properties of the extracts of St. John's wort.[1][11] In vitro, it acted as a reuptake inhibitor of monoamines, including serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, and of GABA and glutamate, with IC50 values of 0.05-0.10 μg/mL for all compounds, with the exception of glutamate, which is in the 0.5 μg/mL range.[12] In other laboratory studies, hyperforin induced cytochrome P450 enzymes CYP3A4 and CYP2C9 by binding to and activating the pregnane X receptor.[13]

Reuptake Inhibition
Neurotransmitter IC50 (nanomoles)[12]
Norepinephrine 80 ± 24
Dopamine 102 ± 19
GABA 184 ± 41
5-HT 205 ± 45
Glutamate 829 ± 687
Choline 8500
Binding affinity (human receptors)
Receptor Ki (nanomoles)
DRD1 595.8[14]
Natural and semi-synthetic analogues of Hyperforin
Hyperforin trimethoxybenzoate
Hyperforin nicotinate


Two meta-analyses of clinical trials evaluating the efficacy of St. John's wort for treating mild-to-moderate depression indicated a response similar to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and with better tolerance, although the quality of the studies reviewed was limited by low numbers of subjects and short durations of treatment.[15][16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Hyperforin". PubChem, US National Library of Medicine. 8 September 2018. Retrieved 13 September 2018. 
  2. ^ Beerhues L (2006). "Hyperforin". Phytochemistry. 67 (20): 2201–7. doi:10.1016/j.phytochem.2006.08.017. PMID 16973193. 
  3. ^ Smelcerovic A, Spiteller M (March 2006). "Phytochemical analysis of nine Hypericum L. species from Serbia and the F.Y.R. Macedonia". Die Pharmazie. 61 (3): 251–2. PMID 16599273. 
  4. ^ Bystrov NS; Gupta ShR; Dobrynin VN; Kolosov MN; Chernov BK (January 1976). "[Structure of the antibiotic hyperforin]". Doklady Akademii Nauk SSSR (in Russian). 226 (1): 88–90. PMID 1248360. 
  5. ^ Bystrov NS, Chernov BK, Dobrynin VN, Kolosov MN (1975). "[The structure of hyperforin]". Tetrahedron Letters. 16 (32): 2791–2794. doi:10.1016/S0040-4039(00)75241-5. 
  6. ^ Shimizu Y, Shi SL, Usuda H, Kanai M, Shibasaki M (February 2010). "Catalytic Asymmetric Total Synthesis of ent-Hyperforin". Angew Chem Int ed. 49 (6): 1103–6. doi:10.1002/anie.200906678. PMID 20063336. 
  7. ^ Sparling B, Moebius D, Shair M (December 2012). "Enantioselective Total Synthesis of Hyperforin" (Submitted manuscript). J Am Chem Soc. 135 (2): 644–7. doi:10.1021/ja312150d. PMID 23270309. 
  8. ^ Liu, F; Pan, C; Drumm, P; Ang, CY (February 2005). "Liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry studies of St. John's wort methanol extraction: active constituents and their transformation". Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis. 37 (2): 303–12. doi:10.1016/j.jpba.2004.10.034. PMID 15708671. 
  9. ^ Biber, A; Fischer, H; Römer, A; Chatterjee, SS (June 1998). "Oral bioavailability of hyperforin from hypericum extracts in rats and human volunteers". Pharmacopsychiatry. 31 (Suppl 1): 36–43. doi:10.1055/s-2007-979344. PMID 9684946. 
  10. ^ Schulz, HU; Schürer, M; Bässler, D; Weiser, D (2005). "Investigation of the Bioavailability of Hypericin, Pseudohypericin, Hyperforin and the Flavonoids Quercetin and Isorhamnetin Following Single and Multiple Oral Dosing of a Hypericum Extract Containing Tablet". Arzneimittelforschung. 55 (1): 15–22. doi:10.1055/s-0031-1296820. PMID 15727160. 
  11. ^ Newall, Carol A.; Joanne Barnes; Anderson, Linda R. (2002). Herbal medicines: a guide for healthcare professionals. London: Pharmaceutical Press. ISBN 978-0-85369-474-8. 
  12. ^ a b Chatterjee SS, Bhattacharya SK, Wonnemann M, Singer A, Müller WE (1998). "Hyperforin as a possible antidepressant component of hypericum extracts". Life Sci. 63 (6): 499–510. doi:10.1016/S0024-3205(98)00299-9. PMID 9718074. 
  13. ^ Moore LB, Goodwin B, Jones SA, et al. (June 2000). "St. John's wort induces hepatic drug metabolism through activation of the pregnane X receptor". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 97 (13): 7500–2. doi:10.1073/pnas.130155097. PMC 16574Freely accessible. PMID 10852961. 
  14. ^ "Hyperforin". BindingDB. Retrieved 5 March 2015. 
  15. ^ Ng QX, Venkatanarayanan N, Ho CY (March 2017). "Clinical use of Hypericum perforatum (St John's wort) in depression: A meta-analysis". Journal of Affective Disorders. 210: 211–221. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2016.12.048. PMID 28064110. 
  16. ^ Cui YH, Zheng Y (2016). "A meta-analysis on the efficacy and safety of St John's wort extract in depression therapy in comparison with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors in adults". Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment. 12: 1715–23. doi:10.2147/NDT.S106752. PMC 4946846Freely accessible. PMID 27468236.