This post is about amazing St John’s Wort. I love this herb because it has been very supportive to myself and my friends.
My first forage for St John’s Wort this year was on the 21st June because summer solstice is said to be the best time to do this. Summer solstice occurs on the longest day of the year and is also known as midsummer. Some even wear the flower on this day because its said to attract God’s favour.
Three days later its St John’s Day on the 24th June. This is where St John’s Wort gets its name from because it usually flowers around this date. Also the “Wort” part of the name is an old Anglo Saxon name for medicinal herb.
Being a perennial this herb lives for many years and grows wild throughout Europe. I forage for mine beside hedgerows but they also grow on rough grassland, meadows and open woodland. Another place they grow is on road verges but these are best left alone because of vehicle emissions.
Identifying St John’s Wort
St John’s Wort flowers from June to September and its leaves appears from April through to October. It can grow up to three feet high and its yellow blooms are stunning and peppered with tiny black dots. In fact you cannot fail to see these star-shaped eye catching beauties on a forage.
Further help to identify this herb comes from looking at its leaves because they are covered with translucent dots. When held to the light these dots look like holes but are actually colourless oil glands.
If your new to foraging check out my “Foraging Tips for Beginners” post;
Other Names for St John’s Wort
This herb is known by many names which include;
- Fuga daemonum (scare devil) because of a thirteenth century drugs list which shows it as a herb that chases away the devil and evil spirits.
- Goat weed because it may cause poisoning to livestock, and sheep readily graze this when food is scarce.
- Hardhay because of its hard and tough stems.
- Klamath weed because Klamath County is a county in the U.S. state of Oregon and the herb is considered a pest in some places in the U.S. Therefore this name makes sense because St Johns Wort is particularly widespread in Northern California and Southern Oregon.
St John’s Wort Tincture
I love my St John’s Wort tincture because it works remarkably well for me. When I have a particularly trying day where I get easily upset over the tiniest things I reach for this beauty. Personally half a teaspoonful (2.5ml) in a lovely cold glass of bottled water brings practically instant relief. In fact I start to feel much better and calmer after only a few sips.
This is the brilliant thing about tinctures a small dose can be very effective.
Making St John’s Wort Tincture
I make this supportive tincture with fresh herb as follows;
- Wash the fresh flowers, buds and top leaves in a colander and leave them on the kitchen drainer until the water evaporates. This will remove any insects still lurking around.
- Weigh the flowers, buds and leaves on a electronic scale for accuracy.
- Place them into a clean glass jar or bottle.
- Cover them with vodka – 1oz of fresh herb would require 300ml of vodka whereas 1/2oz of dry herb also requires 300ml.
- Screw on the jar or bottle’s lid and label with preparation name, date of preparation, alcohol content, and date when ready to strain ( in one month’s time).
- Shake the mixture every few days and watch how the vodka turns into a beautiful red colour.
- After a month strain the liquid into a fresh jar or bottle using a conical funnel and cheesecloth.
- Discard the herb.
- Label with tincture name, alcohol content, uses and dosages. Tinctures may last years but I like to put an expiry date of two years time on mine.
Uses for St Johns Wort Tincture
Main Use of St John’s Wort:
Some say that St John’s Wort is a better anti-depressant than some pharmaceutical drugs. This is shown by repeated double-blind studies of St John’s Wort, where information is held from the participants until the studies are complete. St Johns Wort also has the added benefits of being gentle and non-addictive.
The reason for its success as an anti-depressant is because it contains hypericin which is an anti-depressant as well as being antiviral.
Even the Greeks called it the “sunshine herb” because it brought light back into the lives of depressed people.
Other ways that St Johns Wort tincture may support the body include;
- Promoting a healthy immune system because its an immune stimulant.
- Assisting digestion because it strengthens the stomach’s functions and may also restore appetite.
- Helping to balance stomach acid levels and assist in the absorption of nutrients.
- Acting as a diuretic to drive out worms and reduce fever.
- Easing Jet lag.
- Being cardiotonic because it promotes coronary flow and strengthens the heart.
- Supporting the liver by breaking down and getting rid of toxins.
- Easing menopausal moods.
- Acting as a tonic for the nervous system (nervous exhaustion) and addressing its longer term needs rather than providing a short-term lift in mood.
- Easing the winter blues – Also known as SAD and this is the abbreviation for Seasonal Affective Disorder.
- Acting as a sedative and as a result of this also ease insomnia.
- Using for shingles because its antiviral.
Take 2-4ml a maximum of 3 times per day. I mix my tincture into a cold glass of water.
With tinctures it is important to start off with the lowest dose possible and increase slowly if required. Take a look at my “Herbal Preparation Dosages” post for more information about why its so important to get this right;
St John’s Wort Tea
Tea is made from the dry flowers, buds and top leaves of St John’s Wort. To prepare my dry herbs I firstly wash them to remove any lurking insects. When the water has evaporated I lay them onto kitchen roll for a week or two to dry.
When dry the tea is made as follows;
- Boil a cup of bottled water.
- Add one heaped teaspoonful of dry herb.
- Cover the cup with a plate and leave to infuse for 15 minutes.
- Strain into a fresh cup and throw away the herb.
1/2 a cup up to 3 times per day.
Uses for St John’s Wort Tea
Taken as a tea St John’s Wort may assist the body with regards to;
- Clearing the liver and stomach
Furthermore because its powerfully anti-viral St John’s Worts uses also include being a treatment for HIV, aids and herpes simplex. Discussing such treatments and options with your doctors first is extremely important.
Also St John’s Wort soothing and relaxing essential oil may support the healing of burns.
Moreover being an alternative means that St John’s Wort is a herb that may gradually restore the proper function of the body and increase health and vitality.
- Taking St John’s Wort can cause sensitivity to the sun. Therefore if you burn easily or spend time out in the sun be especially careful.
- Do not take alongside antidepressant medication unless you have spoken to a medical professional first.
- It may reduce the effectiveness of other medical drugs therefore speak to your doctor before taking it with any other medications.
Magical St John’s Wort
St John’s Wort magical uses include;
- Protecting a house by passing the herb through the smoke of a Midsummer Eve’s fire and then hanging it up in the house.
- Inclusion in purification incense.
- Exorcising and banishing spirits by burning the herb.
Be aware that you never know if you’re intolerant to something new until you try it for the first time. Therefore only try a tiny amount first and wait a day or two to check that there is no adverse reaction.
If you have any pre-existing medical conditions or are taking any medications, always check with your doctor to ensure that using any of these suggestions don’t contradict them.
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