St. John's Wort
Hypericum perforatum (Perforated variety)
COMMON NAMES: Amber, goatweed, Johnswort, Klamath weed, Tipton Weed, Rosin Rose.
DESCRIPTION OF PLANT(S) & CULTURE:
hairless, branched herbaceous perennial plant with a woody
branched root produces many round stems which put out runners
from the base. The Plant has a pale brown stem, top branches and
oblong stalkless leaves that grow in pairs. On the perforated
leaves are transparent spots (oil glands), that look like holes,
but on the unperforated varieties are rust-colored spots and were
believed by pious country folk to be the mark of the blood of St.
John the Baptist. Also, the sap of the plant is reddish colored
and represents the blood of St. John the Baptist. Flat topped
cymes of yellow flowers, whose petals are dotted with black along
the margins, appear from June to September. Each flower has five
yellow petals with black dots on the margins and many yellow
stamens. The fruit is a three celled capsule containing small,
dark brown seeds. The whole plant has a turpentine-like odor. The
flowers appear in late summer and are bright yellow. Plant grows
1-3 feet tall with delicate .6 to 1.2 inch bluish-green
elliptical leaves, requires full sun to partial shade. This
perennial is very tough and will tolerate any soil type, extreme
heat and drought. Even with extreme wilting, usually it will
LOCATION GROWN OR WHERE FOUND: Commonly found in dry, gravely soils, fields, and sunny places in many parts of the world, including eastern North America and the pacific coast. Found on roadsides, waste places and a weed in some places. Found throughout Canada and much of United States. Was introduced from Europe.
PARTS USUALLY USED: The entire plant is dried for use. Usually the fresh flowers are used, but dried flowers are also used.
MEDICINAL PROPERTIES: This bitter tasting herb works on the central nervous system and has been a popular cure for neuritis. It was once given to patients recovering from surgery because of its painkilling properties. It is said to prevent hemorrhages. Antispasmodic, astringent, expectorant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, blood purifier, tranquilizer, sedative, nervine, vulnerary, aromatic, diuretic, stimulates digestion. Folk remedy for bladder ailments, stab wounds, shingles, gout, furunculosis, skin ulcers, swellings, depression, or worms. The calming properties have been used quite successfully in treating bedwetting, insomnia, stress reactions, hysteria and other nervous conditions. An oil extract can be taken for stomachache, colic, intestinal problems, and as an expectorant for colds and/or congestion in the lungs. A tea made from the flowers is good for anemia, headache, insomnia, jaundice, chest congestion, and catarrh, neuralgia, and rheumatic aches and pains. Excellent for pus in the urine. Tea made from the herb has been used for uterine cramping and menstrual difficulties including irregular menstruation, pains following childbirth, suppressed urine, diarrhea, and dysentery. The oil extract makes a good external application for slow-healing cuts and burns, wounds, sores, bruises, tumors, vericose veins, boils, and other skin problems. It is applied as a liniment or poultice for sciatica, neuralgia and rheumatic pains.
BIOCHEMICAL: Contains active compounds choline, pectin, rutin, sitosterol, hypericin (a glycoside that is a red pigment), a polyphenolic favonoid derivative (hyperaside), and pseudohypericin. Recent studies have found that hypericin and pseudohypericin have potent anti-retroviral activity, without serious side effects. Being researched for treatment of AIDS.
DOSAGES: Prepare a standard infusion from the leaves and chopped stem. Used externally, this lotion heals blisters, scalds, and all minor wounds, but an oil of this herb is used as a soothing rub and as a dressing for wounds slow to heal. Dried aerial portions of the herb plant: one to two teaspoons per cup of boiling water, taken two to three times daily. Standard decoction or 3-9 gms.
USES: Bedwetting, insomnia, hysteria, menstrual irregularity, stress reactions, neuralgia, rheumatic aches and pains, menstrual cramps, anemia, headaches, chest congestion, catarrh, nervous conditions, blood purifier, expectorant, slow healing wounds, blisters, scalds, diuretic, digestion stimulant, bladder ailments, swellings, stab wounds, shingles, gout, furuncles and carbuncles, skin ulcers, depression, worms, colic, intestinal problems, jaundice, thrombosis, phlebitis, embolism or pains following childbirth, mastitis, skin care for babies, mumps, ear infections, diarrhea, dysentery, vericose veins, sciatica, minor wounds.
LEGENDS, MYTHS OR STORIES: This herb has long been linked with magic. Its ancient name Fuga Daemonum testifies to its alleged ability to repel demons. (Fuga Daemonum or Scare Devil) The generic name, Hypericum, clearly shows that the herb was highly regarded as having power over evil spirits. It is taken from two Greek words, hyper and eikon (over and apparition). From earliest times people have accepted as perfectly natural the idea that man has a body and a soul. At death the body was easily disposed of, but what to do with the soul or spirit was a different matter. Special rituals were developed and performed to honor the departed as fear of what the disembodied spirit could or would do to the living. The ritual was really a way for people to protect themselves from the wrath of the dead. The problem of demons and uncanny beings who had never lived among mortals was also handled by special rituals. One way to protect ones self was to use powerful plant magic, thus the use of St. Johns Wort. To the early Christians the yellow stamens and bright golden flowers suggested the light of the sun. This was "proof" of the herbs effectiveness since spirits of darkness hated the light; neither would they come to it. Satan had no power over anyone who carried a talisman of St. Johns Wort. The Plant was gathered on St. Johns Day, June 24th, and hung over the door or window. In some lands it was burned in the midsummer fires for various magical purposes, or worn as an amulet or charm. Although used widely today as an herbal remedy for certain illnesses, wounds, etc., it was originally used for treating insanity, especially when demonic possession was suspected. Among some races it is still customary to burn the herb; the smoke and flame being considered potent for dispelling all types of evil influences.
FORMULAS FOR SPECIFICS: Steep 1 tsp. dried herb in 1/2 cup water for 5 minutes, covered. Take warm, 1/2 cup before breakfast and 1/2 cup when going to bed for the night. Oil extract: Take 10 to 15 drops in water. To make, put fresh flowers and leaves in a jar and fill with olive oil. Close the jar and leave it in a sunny or warm place for 6 to 7 weeks, shaking it often. The oil will turn red. Strain the oil through a cloth. If a watery layer appears when the oil has stood a while, decant or siphon it off. If stored in a dark container, the oil will keep for up to two years.
COMMERCIALLY SUPPLIED: Capsules or oil extracts. (The red dye of St. Johns Wort is oil soluble and is much more effective as an oil form than as a tincture.
WARNING: Caution should be noted here, St. Johns Wort has sometimes poisoned livestock. Its use may also make the skin sensitive to light. Taken internally or externally, hypericin may cause photodermatitis (skin burns) on sensitive persons exposed to light. May be toxic. Should be used with competent medical supervision.