St. John's Wort
St. John's wort is known for its effectiveness as an herbal medication to treat depression. In addition, presently scientists are studying St. John's wort to find out whether it may also be used to treat specific types of somatoform disorders (a condition distinguished by symptoms that imply a physical problem but for which there are no definite organic findings or identified physiological systems), Parkinson's disease and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Since long, St. John's wort has been recognized by people for the health benefits possessed by the herb. For instance, it possesses wonderful anti-viral as well as antiseptic characteristics and is also effective when used as an analgesic. Long back, health benefits of this herb was discovered by homeopaths and over the years it has developed into a very useful homeopathic medicine. Precisely speaking, an extract obtained from the St. John's wort is administered to patients suffering from depression. Nevertheless, it needs to be mentioned that unlike in herbal medication, in homeopathy this medication prepared from this herb works somewhat in a different way. Like in the instance of any other homeopathic medicines, preparation of the homeopathic medication hypericum is very crucial.
Grandma's St. John's Wort
The unique therapeutic benefits of St. John's wort may not appear for several weeks, and the remedy must be used for at least a few months to produce lasting effects. This medicinal herb is prescribed for mild to moderate depression and anxiety and is also applied externally to heal wounds and reduce inflammation.
In natural medicine, the herb St. John's wort is considered to be the psychological counterpart of arnica, which alleviates physical pain. Thebenefits can temper emotional discomfort, lift depression and calm the nerves.
St. John's wort is also very similar to some types of antidepressantmedications. It's believed to raise the concentration of serotonin in the brain and enhance its activity. This neurotransmitter (or chemical nerve messenger) helps to regulate mood. You can also make a tea from this medicinal herb and is known to relax and soothe the psyche without causing sleepiness or addiction.
Caution: Avoid overexposure to sunlight and ultraviolet light when taking St. John's wort. Because the hypericin in the herb increases the skin's photosensitivity, a bad sunburn, rash or even blistering could result!
More Therapeutic Benefits of
St. John's wort
The Benefits of St. John's wort improves:
- capillary circulation
- relieves mild to moderate depression
- relieves anxiety
- supports healthy sleep
- eases gastrointestinal distress
- increases cardiac circulation
- promotes wound healing
- reduces inflammation
Studies have shown evidence that it may also be effective against viruses.
Hypericin - Main Active Ingredient
Hypercin, the red pigment contained in the petals of the St. John's wortflower, is possibly the substance responsible for the healing properties of the medicinal herb. It alleviates depression, assists the brain's pineal gland in balancing sleep-wake cycles and supplies oxygen to the cells. Drinking St. John's wort tea is an effective way to get these benefits.
Flavonoids & Essential Oils
These plant components help fight inflammation and soothe pain. For this reason, the St. John's wort tea can also be used for nerve pain, inflammation, first-degree burns and wound healing.
Medicinal Herbal Uses
When applied externally, a St. John's wort tincture disinfects wounds and first-degree burns. The tincture also relieves frostbite and general hypothermia by improving capillary circulation, thus bringing blood and oxygen to the affected tissues.
To Make a Tincture Crush 1 2/3 ounces of St. John's wort flowers in a mortar. Steep the herb, covered in 1/2 cup of 100-proof alcohol for 10 days. Strain the liquid and pour it into a dark bottle for storage. Use the herb tincture as needed. Needless to say, it's good to make this tincture and keep it on hand for emergency.
St. John's wort oil is used for external inflammation. Mash 2 handfuls of St. John's wort flowers and put them into an airtight container. Pour 1 quart of olive oil over the flowers, cover and let the mixture sit in the sun for 3-4 weeks, shaking it daily. The oil will assume a reddish hue. You can also add a few drops of lavender essential oil or chamomile essential oil. It can be used externally as a massage oil to ease joint pain, inflammation and sprains. It can also be applied to bruises, wounds, skin inflammations andhemorrhoids.
The calming and diuretic effects of St. John's wort tea helps relieve thesymptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), including headaches, nervousness, water retention, moodiness and cramping.
St. John's Wort Tea Recipes
Preparation of the Tea
In a teapot, pour 1 cup of boiling water over 2 teaspoons of dried St. John's wort. Steep for 10 minutes then filter the tea through a strainer as you pour it into a cup. If desired, add honey to sweeten the beverage to our taste. Drink 1 or 2 cups of the freshly prepared tea every morning and evening, unless instructed to do otherwise by your health practitioner.
Medicinal Tea Blends
- 1 1/2 ounce St. John's wort
- 1 ounce lemon-balm leaves
- 1 ounce valerian
Use 1 teaspoon of the herb mixture per cup of boiling water. Drink a cup of this tea before going to bed each night for several weeks to calm overwrought nerves, lift depression and help you fall asleep more easily. Make sure you steep the tea for 10 minutes, strain before drinking.
Relieve Coughing Fits
- 1 1/2 ounce of St. John's wort
- 2/3 ounce thyme
- 2/3 ounce linden flowers
Use 1 teaspoon of this herb mixture per cup of boiling water to soothe irritations of the upper respiratory tract that cause coughing. This tea has proved helpful with bronchitis and whooping cough. Steep for t to 10 minutes, strain before drinking.
- 1 2/3 ounce St. John's wort
- 1 ounce valerian
- 1 ounce linden flowers
- 1/4 ounce juniper berries
Use 1 teaspoon of the mixture per cup of boiling water. Steep for 10 minutes, strain. This tea helps dilate blood vessels and improves circulation. If our headaches are triggered by weather, drink the tea whenever you notice the weather is changing.
Making an Infused Oil with St. John’s Wort
Many people have heard of St. John’s wort, often as an herbal aid for depression. But St. John’s wort is also a marvelous herb for your skin.
Surprised? Well, many herbs have both internal and external uses, and St John’s wort is no exception.
This wonderful herb has been used for hundreds of years for nerves. We have nerve cells both inside our bodies (the central nervous system, where neurotransmitters regulate our moods) and in our skin, where nerves let us know if we’re hot or cold, or if our skin (our body’s outer defense layer) has been hurt in any way, such as scratches or insect bites or sunburn.
Over the years, many cultures observed that a plant’s shape and/or growth seemed to roughly correlate to parts of the human body. People realized that the herb, or the relevant part of it, benefits the corresponding area of the body (in Christianity, this was known as the “Doctrine of Signatures”).
It is easy to make a beautiful, dark-red oil from St. John’s wort to be used directly on your skin, or add to salves and lotions.
All you need is a clean, dry jar with a lid, good-quality olive, sweet almond oil, or other vegetable oil (preferably organic), and a nice stand of the plant in bloom.
St. John’s wort is easily identified with the help of a good field guide. The cultivar you want is known botanically as Hypericum perforatum, the “perforatum” of the species name referring to little translucent glands scattered throughout its leaves, somewhat mimicking the nerves and glands of our skin.
Other species of Hypericum don’t have the constituents that are needed, so even if you have a beautiful ornamental St. John’s wort shrub in your yard, resist the temptation to use it –you’ll get disappointing results.
St. John’s wort grows in sunny fields and roadsides, as well as partial shade. I was surprised one year to find it taking over the woodsy hill in my backyard!
It blooms from the middle of June until August or September, though less profusely after July. The herb got its name because it blooms around St. John’s Eve, June 24.
So, on a beautiful, sunny day, when dew or rain have dried off the plants (usually late morning), take a pair of scissors and a basket or paper bag and go harvest St. John’s wort tops.
Take only the top quarter of the plant (flowers, buds, possible seed heads, leaves, and stems). All these parts contain active ingredients.
Two cups loosely packed is enough.
This allows the perennial plant to keep growing and blooming so it can come back next year.
Be aware of where you are picking. Do not take plants closer than a few yards next to a highway or busy street, or from an area you know or suspect is contaminated with lead or other chemicals/heavy metals. Remember that whatever goes onto your skin gets absorbed into your body to some extent.
When you get home, spread the St. John’s wort out to wilt for a few hours or overnight, or place in a very low-temp oven for a short time. This gets out some of the moisture, so your oil is less likely to mold. It is called fresh-wilting.
Next, cut up the plant material to some extent.
Lightly pack the St. John’s wort into your clean jar. You don’t want to cram as much plant material as possible into the jar, but you also want more than a few sprigs of herb. The herb matter should be slightly springy.
Pour the oil in and fill the jar to a little above the top of the plant matter, then take a skewer or chopstick and stir to get air bubbles out.
Screw on the lid.
Label your jar with the date, the herb, and the kind of oil you used.
Check the jar the next day and add more oil if necessary, because the plants may have absorbed some and the level may have dropped. Make sure plant material is completely covered, because any plant matter that is above the oil, in air, can easily cause molding. You can shake the jar to get the herb and oil to combine more completely.
Depending on your preference you can leave your oil on a sunny windowsill or place it in a dark cupboard. Either way, put it on a plate or something oil-resistant! Some of the oil will inevitably ooze out of the jar. Let this mixture brew for six weeks (if you’re in a hurry, 4 weeks will do), checking it occasionally and stirring out air bubbles.
After six weeksyour oil may go bad if you wait too long. Using cheese cloth or clean muslin (don’t use a coffee filter or paper towels, the pores are too fine and will clog up), strain out the plant matter, then squeeze out any leftover oil from the plant matter.
Put your infused oil into another clean, dry jar. Label this jar also.
The oil will last for several years, especially if you keep it refrigerated or in a cool place.
You can use the oil directly on your skin, or as the base for salves and lotions. St. John’s wort oil is a great soother for sunburn, sun-poisoning rash, and some eczemas. It is also a fine moisturizer. Traditionally St. John’s wort has been used externally to help with nerve pain.
Remember not to use it on open wounds, and always consult a health-care practitioner about any skin problems.