Thursday, June 19, 2008

June is St. John's Wort Time

St. John's Wort, Hypericum perforatum is in bloom now. The ideal time to harvest it is Summer Solstice or St. John's Day (June 24) The birth date of Saint John the Baptist. Although it is considered a "noxious weed" and therefore cannot be legally grown in California, it grows wild all over the place and so you can find it along the road.

You can make either an infused oil or a tincture with St. John's Wort.

Infused oil: Fresh flowering and budding tops only. Combine 1 part by weight of the fresh herb: 3 parts by volume of olive oil. The dried herb does not extract in oil. The fresh herb should be thoroughly bruised or mashed prior to combining with the oil.

Solar maceration of oil extract improves extraction of certain constituents, although maceration in the dark is also effective. The maceration must continue for 2 full weeks.

The oil is a useful external application for bruises, sprains, swellings, varicose ulcers, hemorrhoids, and old burns. The oil may be further processed into salves or creams which retain the same effect. The oil can also be used internally as a treatment for indigestion and /or gastric ulcer. The dosage is 1 tsp. taken 2 to 3 times daily.

Not to be taken concurrently with pharmaceutical drugs. Do not exceed recommended dosage. Overdose of the herb can cause photosensitivity, generally characterized by an increased optical sensitivity to sunlight and an increased tendency for the sunburn. People with light skin should keep treated areas covered due to increased risk of burning or blistering.

Use care when harvesting or processing. Best to wear gloves since hypericins are readily absorbed to the skin. Avoid rubbing the eyes or wiping the brow.

Tincture: You can make a tinture of fresh or dried flowering tops. With fresh the ratio of plant to alcohol is 1:2 (100% Alcohol), with dried 1:5 (75% Alcohol to 25% Water). You can leave it in the sun, but be careful since alcohol is flammable.

St. John's Wort has a nervine effect and can help in restoring damaged nerve tissues, deadening nerve pain and strengthening the urinary organs. It can be useful in treating athletic injuries with nerve damage and/or pulled muscles or ligaments.

"Hypericum" translates as "over an apparition" and has been used as an anti-depressant.

Taken from: Making Plant Medicine, by Richo Cech

David Hoffmann in Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine, writes that an oil made from St.John's Wort can be used for rheumatic pain, neuralgic or sciatic pains, or applied to minor burns. It is a valuable healing and anti-inflammatory remedy. In a lotion or salve it assists in the healing of wound and bruises, and varicose veins.

Taken internally, it has sedative and pain-relieving effects and has been used to treat neuralgia, anxiety, and tension. It can be useful during menopause when one is especially irritable or suffers from anxiety. (Note from Hamida - If you are suffering from on-going depression or emotional disturbance, seek help from someone you trust - don't keep self-medicating, even if it is with herbs).

Hamida says: I have used St. John's Wort tincture personally to relieve lower back pain caused by over-exertion. I also use it when I need to relax a little and calm down. The effects are subtle, but I feel more grounded. I use it in my Solar Salve. See my website

A friend has had success in treating sciatica by taking St. John's Wort tincture.

And now it's time for me to go gather some and make some infused oil and tincture.
Happy Medicine Making!

The following is from Michael Moore's website:
Southwest School of Botanical Medicine

More pictures:

St. John's Wort

SJW up close

SJW thick growth

No comments: