Ambros Prechtl, ND PhD
201-26 Alton Drive
Halifax / B3N 1L9
ST. JOHN's WORT
Though many people have at least heard of St. John’’s Wort, few know what it is good for and fewer still are aware that the herb may grow in their own neighbourhood, if not in their
It is found throughout Europe, in the cooler parts of Africa and Asia, and in the temperate parts of North America. Along the Eastern Seaboard you can expect to find it from St.
John's in Newfoundland to Norfolk in Virginia. It blooms from the second half of June till the beginning of September
Maria Treben, a herbalist of international renown and author of GESUNDHEIT AUS DER APOTHEKE GOTTES (health
from God's pharmacy) regards St. John's wort as one of the most valuable medicinal herbs.
In Germany, the herb is generally known as JOHANNISKRAUT (herb of St. John). But it boasts a number of other vernacular names, the most
common ones of them being CHRISTI WUNDERKAUT (Christ's miracle herb), GOTTESGNADENKRAUT (herb of divine grace), HERRGOTTSBLUT (the Lord's blood) and JOHANNISBLUT (blood of St. John). If nothing
else, these names prove that St. John's wort
has been held in high esteem by the Germans, than whom few, if any, know more about herbal remedies.
An old German tradition links the herb's blood-red juice to the wounds and the blood of the Savior. The oil -- tell you below how to make it -- which takes on the color of the juice, is a popular
medicine used to treat a variety of ills. In Upper Austria, farmers used to put the
herb between two slices of bread and feed the "sandwich" to their farm animals, sure that this would protect their beasts against disease. .
JOHANNISKRAUT grows along roadways and along field paths, in drier pastures and at the edge of the woods. The mature plant is 25 to 60 cm (15 to 25 in) tall. The stem fans out into several branches, at the end of
which you find the yellow-golden stars of its blossoms. Their ovaries have three dark red styles. To make sure that you have the right herb, take a mature blossom between index finger and thumb and rub-squeeze it. If a purplish red juice
discolors your fingers, you do have the right herb. There is a second sure sign. Take a mature leaf and hold it against a source of light. If it looks as if it had been perforated in many places, you know it is St. John's wort.
Hence its Latin name -- hypericum perforatum (perforated).
A verbal picture of the herb won't be of much use to those who don't know it. Having someone show the real thing to you is no doubt the surest way to learn
to identify it. Obviously I can't do that for all the readers but I can do something almost as effective -- include a scan or two of several sprigs of the real thing. The scans turned out surprisingly good.
Here is a list of some of the ills St. John's wort has been used to treat, above all in teutonic Europe -- in Germany, in Austria and in the German-speaking parts of Switzerland. The tea made of the whole herb is used to treat nervous disorders (depression,
insomnia, fits of hysteria) irregularities in the menstrual cycle, muscle strains resulting from overexertion, bed-wetting and somnambulance. Owing to its anti-inflammatory properties, it has proven itself useful in the treatment of chronic inflammation
of the stomach, the liver, the gallbladder and the kidneys.
Don't ask me for double-blind studies. I don't know of any However the collective experience of millions of people over many centuries
counts for something too; in fact, I'd be inclined to have more faith in it than in double-blind studies of drugs paid for and carried out by the very people who make the drugs and who, having spent millions to develop them, are hell-bent
to get them on the market.
No domestic medicine cabinet should be without St. John's wort oil, a highly esteemed natural remedy. You can easily make it
yourself (see below). It is pure magic for wounds that refuse to heal. You may use it on old wounds and fresh wounds alike. It reduces pain. Use it to treat coarse skin but also use it as a day-to-day skin nourishment for healthy skin.
If you believe, as I do, that you should not put anything on your skin that you would not put in your mouth, oil of St. John's wort fills the bill. Use it further to treat bruises and to rub on swollen lymph glands. Use it as a massage oil to treat
lower back pain, sciatica and rheumatism. Use it to treat sunburn, general burns and hemorrhoids. Rubbing some of the oil on the lower middle of an infant suffering from colic can be trusted to bring relief. Farmers of old used St. John's
wort oil to treat injuries of their animals. Maria Treben offers many testimonials to that effect.
Tea: Pour 1/4 liter of boiling water on a level tablespoon of
the dried herb. Let steep for a few minutes.
Oil: Blossoms are best gathered while the sun is shining.
Fill a wide-mouthed bottle (a glass pickle jar is ideal)
loosely with the blossoms and pour extra-virgin olive
oil over them till they are completely submerged.
Screw the lid on tight and keep the bottle in a warm
place -- on a sunny window sill or near the stove -- for
about four weeks. When the oil has turned a rich ruby-
red, filter it through a cloth. Squeeze out what's left in
the blossoms but don't mix it with the rest of the oil.
Use it first.
Keep the oil in dark or opaque bottles, in
the fridge or in a cool, dark place. I squeeze a few caps
of Vitamin E into it to prevent oxidation (prevent it from
Sitzbad: Soak a gallon of the dried herb in cold water overnight.
to a boil before the bath and add to the bath
water. Spend about twenty minutes in the bath and
expect to be marvelously refreshed and calm when you
Keep the oil
in dark or opaque bottles, in the fridge or in a cool, dark place. I squeeze a few capsules of Vitamin E into it to prevent oxidation; i.e. to prevent the oil from getting rancid.