ST. JOHN'S WORT

Hypericum perforatum 

Part/s Used:  Flowering tops + Leaves 
Energetics:  Cooling, astringent, bitter, sweet aftertaste
Actions: Nervine, trophorestorative, astringent, anti inflammatory, anti bacterial, anti viral, vulnerary, sedative
Constituents:  Hypericin, volatile oil, tannins, resin, pectin, alkaloids

Medicinal Preparations:

Tincture: Fresh: 1:2 or 1:3                  
Drops: 10-90   Times a day: 4x

Glycerite:  Fresh: 1:4    Glycerin: 50%    Alcohol: 50%
Drops: 10-60    Times a day: 4x

Oil: Fresh: 1:2  Drops: 30-90   Times a day: 3x
Capsules: "00"  1:2   Times a day: 1-3x

Tea:  Hot infusion (steeped 10-15 min) Ounces: 8-12        Times a day: 3-4x

Habitat:

Hypericum is an herbaceous perennial plant that grows all over the pacific west.   It can commonly be found in grasslands, pastures and forested areas with natural clearings and places that have been disturbed by fire, logging, road construction.   It reproduces by seeds and rhizomes.   St johns grows well in areas that have had winter rains.  The bright golden yellow, five-petaled flowers grow on green stalks about 1-3 feet tall. 

Medicinal Uses:

St John's wort is a gentle nervine that calms nervous exhaustion.  It is useful for individuals that suffer from chronic insomnia (take during the day to calm and take a higher dose in the evening as a sedative).  It is good for children who have ADD but have not yet been prescribed medication.   Use in combination with other nervine herbs like lemon balm, wild oats, gotu kola as a first step before a child is medicated. 

 St John's wort is known to be an effective anti-depressant.  It is a mood elevator for mild to moderate depression, PMS (take 1-2 weeks prior to menses) and seasonal affective disorder (winter blues, vitamin deficiency).   It is helpful for people who are stuck in a rut, with a growing frustration.  St. John's needs to be taken for a period of time to see an effect.  Be consistent and patient. 

Hypericum is a potent anti-inflammatory.  It reduces inflammation of the mucus membranes, muscles and joints.  It sedates the nerve fibers and nerve firing pain associated with conditions like herpes, tendonitis, carpal tunnel.  It is also good for such things as sciatica, back spasms, stress headaches and neck pain by massaging in the oil several times a day.  Combines well with arnica and poplar bud oils for pain relief. 

Hypericum is an anti-viral and can be used internally and topically for herpes, hepatitis C and HIV.  For herpes it can be taken as a frequent outbreak tonic.  Tingles on the lip can be a sign of an outbreak (take tincture in higher doses).  If an outbreak does occur, you can use as a topical to control pain.  Sometimes stress alone can trigger an outbreak, using St. john's would both calm the nerves and its antiviral  properties cause less frequent outbreaks and shorten the duration.  

External Use: St. Johns is a great herb to have in the home first aid kit.  It improves capillary permeability and reduces the formation of scars.  Nerves are the slowest healing tissues and St. John's works wonderful both internally and topically for the nerves.  Hypericum is great for bruises, abrasions, broken bones, cysts, surgical wounds (use very high-quality oil; fomentation and tea).  You can also dilute the tincture and use a liniment if the wound is not too sensitive (will sting).  Also used for hemorrhoids, varicose veins. 

Harvesting:

Gather the flowering tops, about 6 inches with some leaves.  Strip the leaves and flowers for tincture.  Stuff a quart jar full to the top and then some. Fill with grape or grain alcohol to make a 1:2 fresh flower tincture.  If making oil, let the leaves and flowers wilt a bit.  This induces more hypericin and aromatics.  Use the simplers method by filing a jar to the top with the flowering tops.  Then remove and grind.  Add back into the jar and cover with EVOO.  Cap and solar infuse for 2-4 weeks in a warm sunny window. Be sure that the flower is below the oil by placing a pickling pebble or coffee filter on top.  The warmth of the sun will pull out the red pigment which contains the medicinal properties.  Strain and you will be left with a beautiful, rich, dark red oil.  Let sit overnight to allow the water-soluble juices in the oil to settle and decant off the oil.  Water left in the oil can induce mold.  If done properly, both oil and the tincture are stable for many years. The oil can be used internally and externally.  Using dried St. John's wort is not suitable for medicine or oil. 

Contraindications:

Reports of photosynthesizing effects on individuals who use St. john's wort internally in high doses.  Use the normal therapeutic dose.  Taking St. John's internally may decrease the effects of oral contraceptives.

 

Sources:
Northwest School for Botanical Studies by Christa Sinadinos
The Complete Herbs Sourcebook by David Hoffman
The Monographs by The Herbal Academy 
Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West by Michael Moore