A native to Britain and France, this perennial can grow up to a metre high, bearing attractive yellow flowers from summer to autumn. The petals have small black dots running along their edges which contain the red pigment hypericin. The common name of St. John’s Wort is believed to come from the fact that the buds and petals appear to ‘bleed’ when crushed (St. John was beheaded), and that the plant is in full flower on June 24th, St. John’s Day. It is believed that the knights of St. John also used the plant’s oil to treat their wounds during the Crusades.
As the plants Latin names suggests, the plant was traditionally hung in doors and windows to keep evil spirits at bay (hyper translates as ‘over’, eikon as ‘icon’ and perforatum is from the Latin for ‘perforated’, which applies to the perforated appearance of the leaves).
The carrier oil is extracted from the buds and flowers which are macerated and the stepped in a good quality vegetable oil (virgin olive oil is the preferred medium). After many days, a deep red oil is produced.
Main therapeutic properties said to be:
St. John’s Wort is said to be excellent for use on the skin as it is soothing, and has antiseptic and analgesic properties. Applied topically, St. John’s Wort is said to be particularly beneficial in the treatment of wounds, particularly when there has been damage to nerve tissues. Similarly, it may help conditions such as neuralgia, sciatica, and fibrositis. As the oil is believed to lower skin temperature, it may soothe superficial burns (including sunburn). St. John’s Wort has also been used traditionally as a herbal remedy (taken internally) for anxiety and depression. However, this use of the herb is currently under suspicion for possible interference with a number of prescription medications including: anticoagulants; oral contraceptives; anti-depressants; anti-seizure medications; and drugs to treat HIV or to prevent transplant rejection. Those who are pregnant, lactating, taking medication or hypersensitive to sunlight (or taking photosensitizing drugs) should consult a doctor before taking St. John’s Wort.
Naphthodianthrones (including hypericin, pseudohypericin, and others); flavonoids.
- Other Comments
The fresh flowers of St. John’s Wort can be used in tea, tincture, or olive oil, and applied externally for the treatment of ulcers, wounds, sores, cuts and bruises.
- Infusions may be used for rheumatism.