A member of the genus Hypericum, and the family Hypericaceae. It is native to Europe, West Asia, North Africa, Madeira and the Azores, and has been naturalized in many parts of the world, including North America and Australia. The plant spreads rapidly by a means of sending out runners or from its prodigious seed production and can invade pastures, disturbed sites, dirt roads, and highways, and sparse woods.
In the western United States, St. John’s wort is especially prevalent in northern California and southern Oregon, hence one of its common names, “Klamath Weed”.
St. John’s wort, was also known by ancient herbalists as Solstice wort as it came to its full bloom on the Midsummer solstice. The five petaled flower is a vibrant yellow color, that has been used for centuries for healing. In fact it was one of the ancient worlds most important herbs used for treating wounds and illness.
A symbol of the sun, and often used for divination, St. John’s wort was brought inside in bouquets to promote good fortune and luck and protect the home from evil. Along with protecting the home, It’s been used in spells for prophetic dreams, and banishing magic. It’s an ancient herb that still deserves our attention and praise today for both it’s magical and medicinal properties. This little flower, is truly a gift of the Goddess.
“The young maid stole through the cottage door,
And blushed as she sought the plant of power.
‘Thou silver glow-worm, oh! lend me thy light,
I must gather the mystic St. John’s Wort to-night;
The wonderful herb whose leaf will decide
If the coming year shall see me a bride.”
-Old German Poem
St. John’s wort was used in early pre-Christian religious practices in England, and it has many legends written about it. Because of its bright yellow color, it was often associated with the sun and was often used for purposes of divination. To predict their chances for marital bliss, young girls were in the habit of plucking a sprig of flowers–if the flowers were fresh in the morning, their chances were good, if wilted, a dismal outcome was predicted.
Culpeper (ca. 1650), says of Hypericum that it; “is under the celestial sign Leo, and the dominion of the Sun.” He goes on to say that “it is a singular wound herb, healing inward hurts or bruises,” and that as an ointment “it opens obstructions, dissolves swelling and closes up the lips of wounds.” Also, he claims it is good for those who “are bitten or stung by any venomous creature, and for those that cannot make water”–which use modern science confirms–and adds that the plant helps with “sciatica, the falling sickness and the palsy.” The oil of Hypericum was “esteemed as one of the most popular and curative applications in Europe for excoriations, wounds, and bruises.” Th preparation was used by the surgeons to clean foul wounds, and was officially listed in the first London Pharmacopeia as Oleum Hyperici.
Several noted English herbalists, reflecting the general beliefs of their time, wrote very favorably of the virtues of St. John’s wort. For instance, Gerard (ca. 1600) tells of the ointment he made of the plant as being a “most precious remedy for deepe wounds”, and adds that “there is not a better natural balsam….to cure any such wound”. What makes this herb special is that is contains both hypericin and hyperforin which have antimocroial and anti-inflammatory properties that when applied to the skin could soothe wounds and burns, and promote healing.
John's wort is anti-inflammatory and is very good for reducing pain, particularly nerve pain. It also has some antibacterial properties making it beneficial to use on minor cuts, scrapes, and wounds. The best and most common ways to use St. John's wort medicinally is to make an infused oil, salve, tincture, or tea. Keep scrolling for the recipe, and keep some in your herbal medicine cabinet.
Pint size mason jar
Fine mesh sieve
Small double boiler.
Small Pyrex measuring cup
Small brown or blue glass jars or small tins for filling with products.
1 cup olive oil,
1 cup fresh St. John’s wort tops. Flowers, stems & leaves.
1 cup St. John’s wort infused oil
1/2 ounce beeswax
1/2 ounce cocoa butter
1 Cup fresh St. John’s wort tops, flowers, buds & leaves
Put the wilted St. John’s wort tops in a pint sized mason jar, then cover with the olive oil, making sure that all of the plant material is submerged ( add more oil as needed.)
Cover the jar with a lid and put in a cool dark place for 1-2 weeks to allow the materials to infuse, then strain with a fine mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth. Squeeze out as much of the oil from the plant matter as possible. Oil will be dark red in color.
Use within one month to prevent spoilage. For longer lasting oil, make with dried herbs.
Place the St. John’s wort oil, cocoa butter and beeswax into the double boiler and heat gently until completely dissolved, stirring occasionally.
Carefully pour the hot mixture into the small jars or tins, and let sit until salve completely cools and sets.
Use for sore and aching joints, and muscles and nerve pain.
Apply to minor wounds, scrapes, scratches, and dry itchy skin as needed.