Medicinal Herbs: St Johns Wort

St Johns WortHypericum perforatum

Nervine, wound healer, and anti-depressant, some say St John’s Wort is so named because it flowers in midsummer around the time of St John’s feast day. Loving a good controversy as I do, I thought I’d point out that others say it’s common name derives from the Knights of St John of Jerusalem because they used it to heal wounds during the Crusades. Even the Botanical, i.e. Latin name has it’s question mark. While most authorities note that Hypericum derives from the ancient Greek meaning “over an apparition” supposedly because it’s smell was said to drive away evil spirits, I personally feel there may possibly be a Christianisation of an earlier pagan connection. St John’s wort flowering as it does when the sun is at its most powerful, at summer solstice, longest day of the year etc. etc., it is perhaps not a coincidence that its botanical name is so close to Hypericon, another name for Helios, the Greek sun God. Certainly there are many other herbs named from Greek legends. Who cares, get on with it I hear you say? Well okay, the boring stuff is that you can use St John’s Wort to treat depression but everyone knows that. Not quite so well known is that it is particularly useful in treating the emotional upsets that come with the menopause. It will also restore damaged nervous tissue, is so strongly anti-viral that research is looking at it’s potential for treating HIV, and it actually is a great wound healer. A simple and outrageously useful home remedy can be made from this humble herb; infused oil, which works magic on cuts, burns and scrapes. To make, cut the aerial parts up and stick in a clear jar and cover with any light vegetable oil, sunflower oil is ideal, and stick it in a window where it will get a lot of sunlight. Turning the jar twice a day to thoroughly mix, leave it for 2-6 weeks until it is bright red. Then strain and decant into dropper bottles. This will keep for a couple of years and no first aid kit should be without.

Medicinal herbsSt johns wort