St. John’s Wort As A Green Catalyst

November 2, 2021

An interdisciplinary team of scientists from the Dresden Technical University Faculty of Sciences has used for the first time dried flowers of St. John’s wort (genus Hypericum) as an active catalyst in various photochemical reactions. This conceptually new and sustainable process was registered as a German patent and featured in the magazine “Green Chemistry”.

Since ancient times, St. John’s wort has been used as a medicinal herb, encompassing a wide range of applications, such as the treatment of burns, skin lesions, neuralgia, fibrosis, sciatica, and depression. Due to its high medicinal potential, the plant known in technical terminology as  Hypericum perforatum became “Medicinal plant of the year” in 2015. Now, scientists from the Technical University of Dresden have shown that this herb is much more than its healing properties .

For this, two interdisciplinary groups of biology and inorganic chemistry have joined forces and have thus achieved surprising results. Initially, research groups led by botanist Stefan Wanke and chemist Jan. J. Weigand wanted to synthesize graphene-like 2D structures from natural products in the joint project funded by the Sächsische Aufbaubank.

For this, hypericin, a compound in St. John’s wort, served as a template and starting material. In the course of investigations, it was found that hypericin effectively catalyzes photochemical reactions. Professor Weigand then came up with the idea of ​​using the dried flowers of St. John’s wort, from which hypericin can be obtained by extraction, as an ecological and sustainable alternative to common catalysts.

‘The chemistry of natural substances and, above all, the background of botany were completely new to us. The exciting results that were obtained are even more rewarding. The interdisciplinary project demonstrates how important it is in science to think outside the box, ”says Professor Weigand, commenting on the success of the collaboration.

The team thus follows the current trend in modern synthetic chemistry to include sustainable aspects. The search for sustainable, renewable and environmentally friendly photon reducing catalysts is proving very difficult. The results obtained now are even more promising.

The plant compound hypericin, a secondary metabolite of St. John’s wort, is used as an active compound in chemical reactions without the need for prior chemical processing. Dresden scientists have successfully applied for a German patent for this newly developed method (DE 10 2019 215 871).

Professor Wanke is also surprised by the success of the collaboration: ‘Although the research project started with a good idea, bringing it to life was not entirely trivial as the two working groups had to’ get to know each other ‘first. Our fields of research and methods used were very different. But soon the first, unusually interesting results emerged. All the participants learned a lot. We would like to continue the research, but the funding is still lacking. ‘

Dr. Loony Davis5
 | Website

Born and raised in Brussels in an English family, I have always lived in a multicultural environment. After several work experiences in marketing and communication, I came to Smart Water Magazine, which I describe as the most exciting challenge of my career.
I am a person with great restlessness and curiosity to learn, discover what I do not know, as well as reinvent myself daily, someone who is curious about life and wants to know. I enjoy sharing knowledge.
This is my personal project but I also collaborate in other blogs, it is the case, the most important web on water currently exists in the US, if you are interested you can read my articles here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *