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Hypericin is a red-coloured anthraquinone-derivative, which is one of the principal active constituents of Hypericum (Saint John's wort). Hypericin is believed to act as an antibiotic and non-specific kinase inhibitor. Hypericin may inhibit the action of the enzyme dopamine beta-hydroxylase, leading to increased dopamine levels, although thus possibly decreasing norepinephrine and epinephrine.
The large chromophore system in the molecule means that it can cause photosensitivity when ingested beyond threshold amounts. Because hypericin accumulates preferentially on cancerous tissues, it is also used as an indicator of cancerous cells. In addition, hypericin is under research as an agent in photodynamic therapy, whereby a biochemical is absorbed by an organism to be later activated with spectrum-specific light from specialized lamps or laser sources, for therapeutic purposesp
protective effect on Irinotecan-induced blood and gastrointestinal toxicity
Irinotecan is an important anticancer drug in management of advanced colon cancer. A marked protective effect on Irinotecan-induced blood and gastrointestinal toxicity is obtained by combination of St. John’s wort (SJW) in recent clinical and rat studies. These results indicated that the aqueous and ethanolic extracts of SJW leads to a selective accumulation of CPT 11 in Cancer Cells, which can in part explain the protective action of St. John’s wort