Edition 66: April 2014
What Herb is That?
St John's Wort
St John’s Wort herb bleeds red healing oil
ST JOHN’S Wort has been used for various ailments since the times of the ancient Greeks - Hippocrates was one of the first to document its therapeutic use.
It was associated with magic and the Greeks gave it the name hypericon, which meant ‘over or above an apparition.’
The crushed flowers emitted a balsamic odour that was used to drive away evil spirits and to purify the air.
The yellow flowers also exude a red sap when crushed, and in homage to St John the Baptist who was beheaded on the day that the plant is in full northern hemisphere flower (24th June) the plant became known as herba sancti Ioannis or St John’s Wort.
In 1540 the Swiss physician Paracelsus used it to treat mental disorders.
The use of this herb continued through the Renaissance and Victorian eras, when it was used as a treatment for emotional and nervous complaints.
Today it is one of the biggest selling herbal supplements on the market as an over-the-counter remedy for anxiety and stress-related disorders.
This herb was a folk remedy for insanity in the Middle Ages, as well as a protection against ill health and evil influences.
Medicinally it was thought to heal wounds and “down-heartedness”. Oil of St John’s Wort was used by the Crusader knights for healing their battle wounds.
The best nerve herb
St John’s Wort acts as a tonic for the nervous system and can be used for nervous exhaustion, long term anxiety, tension and sleep difficulties as well as depression.
Clinical tests have verified its safety and efficacy for treating mild to moderate depression. Severe depression conditions are best treated professionally.
It is also useful for depression related to PMS and Menopausal problems with the associated irritability and tension.
Its use as a calming nervine is well documented for nervousness, excitability and disturbed sleep patterns. It may be used for insomnia and bed-wetting in children.
One could massage the oil over the entire body to bring comfort, reduce nervousness and, trauma and promote a good night’s sleep.
This nerve tonic herb may also be helpful in treating addictions, such as alcoholism or even an addiction to cigarettes.
Research has revealed it to be helpful for those individuals who suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (or OCD); it works as a solution to camouflage the impulses created from addiction. For these problems, it is recommended that you take the capsules/pills of standardised St John's Wort for the best results.
St John's Wort works as a fine antiseptic for gastritis, a condition that causes the lining of the stomach to swell, or gingivitis - which is caused by severe inflammation of the gums as a result of bacteria and disease.
Taken internally, it is recommended to use the herb in oil form, but using the capsules/pills is confirmed to be successful too.
The red infused oil may be applied topically or taken internally (after consulting a herbalist) for peptic ulceration. It stimulates both gastric and bile secretions and is effective in treating uterine pain and irregular menstruation. In this capacity, an infusion of the dried herb may be taken three times a day.
How to make the oil
St John’s Wort infused oil is made by steeping the fresh flowering tops in a quality vegetable oil. Olive oil is a good choice, as it rarely turns rancid.
This is the slow process of cold infusion, whereby the jar is packed with the herb and oil and left to stand for six weeks in sunlight, which encourages the plant to release its active constituents into the oil.
The oil turns a gorgeous rich red colour due to the red fluorescent pigment hypericin. Interestingly, an alcohol extract of the flower dyes silk and wool a violet-red - but does not colour cotton.
Skin loves this oil
St John's Wort possesses an array of antioxidant properties that not only treats dry skin but also maintains a natural moisture balance. It stimulates the skin cells, increasing circulation and as a result, the skin becomes more hydrated and moisturised.
Using it on your face will not only balance out your skin's texture, but it will refresh your skin naturally while also treating an array of skin diseases such as eczema and dermatitis.
Use St John's Wort as a safe douche to treat thrush, a few drops of myrrh essential oil would be a helpful addition.
A first-aid must have
St John’s Wort oil’s antiseptic action provides a quick remedy for bites, cold sores, skin wounds, eruptions and rashes.
Applying the oil has proved to be incredibly effective in not just pain management, but also for targeting the actual origin of the pain.
Just by applying a little oil into the wound areas, you will soothe these wounded areas immediately.
Blending St John’s Wort oil with calendula oil heightens the effectiveness in treating bruises.
It eases the discomforts of haemorrhoids, especially when combined with witchazel.
One could add cypress or juniper oil to St John’s Wort oil for varicose veins.
In fact studies have indicated that this infused oil when used as a carrier enhances both the analgesic and the anti-inflammatory effects of the other essential oils used with it. St John’s Wort Oil is effective for practitioners to use on trigger points for deep tissue massage or myofascial release therapy.
St John’s Wort key to massage oil blends
Nerve Pain Oil
25 mL St John’s Wort oil
10 drops chamomile essential oil
2 drops marjoram essential oil
3 drops carrot essential oil
10 drops lavender essential oil
WHEN nerve tissue has been damaged or where there is considerable nerve pain such as with neuralgia, shingles and chicken pox, St John’s Wort oil offers a lot of relief, especially if chamomile oil is added to the oil.
Nerve damage can be very painful and nerve regeneration tends to be very slow.
The following blend of oils can accelerate this healing process dramatically. It is an excellent remedy to assuage the extreme discomfort of shingles, a pinched nerve or sciatica.
This blend could bring a lot of relief for serious nerve-related conditions such as multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue or Ross River virus, fibromyalgia and other immune suppressed conditions; it could be used as a complementary therapy to the overall treatment.
Joint Pain Oil
25 mL St John’s Wort oil
15 drops Frankincense essential oil
5 drops Rosemary essential oil
5 drops Black Pepper essential oil
3 drops Clove essential oil
5 drops Ginger essential oil
5 drops Juniper essential oil
ST JOHN’S Wort herb improves blood circulation and combined with its anti-inflammatory action is of excellent help with back pain, tired and aching muscles and aching rheumatic joints; and it will also ease fibrositis and sciatica.
Spinal injuries and persistent back pain responds positively by liberally applying the infused oil and do add relevant essential oils like rosemary, marjoram or frankincense to increase its pain-quelling efficacy.
Massage the following blend into painful arthritic or rheumatic joints. Also helpful if massaged into the wrists for carpal tunnel syndrome
Fire and Ice Analgesic Massage Oil
100 mL almond/sunflower oil (any other quality cold pressed vegetable oil)
25 mL St John’s Wort oil
20 drops of eucalyptus essential oil
20 drops of peppermint essential oil
20 drops cajeput essential oil
10 drops rosemary essential oil
5 drops cinnamon bark essential oil
5 drops clove essential oil
SIMULTANEOUSLY warming and chilling, this blend is very helpful for an inflamed, aching back.
Use also for muscle pain, fatigue, swelling, soreness, stiffness or tension in other body parts.
Have a friend or partner massage this soothing remedy into the area that is aching or giving you pain.
Use it on the skin before entering a hot bath or use with a heating pad to encourage penetration.
Burn Recovery Oil
25 mL St John’s wort oil
10 mL calendula infused oil
10 mL rosehip oil
5 mL lavender essential oil
2 mL chamomile essential oil
A QUICK and handy remedy to treat non-chemical, non-electrical burns such as those resulting from boiling water splatters, hot steam or stove burns.
The first step to treating a minor burn at home is to immediately cool the burned area in cold water; gently run cold tap water over the area.
A wet, cold compress could also be applied, or an icepack wrapped in a dishtowel.
Do not apply balms or oils directly to a fresh burn as the oil can insulate the skin and slow the cooling process, creating further tissue damage.
After the burned area has completely cooled, the next step is to use the Burn Recovery Oil, or as an alternative simply St John’s Wort with lavender.
If you have a fresh aloe vera plant growing, (a highly advisable first aid addition to your garden) use the fresh sap inside the fleshy leaves as your first choice before applying an oil blend as an ongoing treatment.
Bonus: You can use the Burn Recovery Oil cooling blend to relieve the sting of sunburn and to prevent blistering and also relieve the itch of dermatitis. This is a powerful anti-inflammatory, skin cell regenerator and it will significantly reduce any scarring.
SOME alternative practitioners recommend St. John's Wort oil for ear pain due to an ear infection (otitis media).
In one study of more than 100 children, a combination herbal ear-drops that contained St. John's Wort, garlic, calendula and mullein was found to be an effective remedy.
St John’s Wort oil has been successfully used as a breast massage oil that eases breast tenderness; it would be of solid help for those recovering from breast cancer and especially beneficial to treat the discomfort from the traumatised tissue after radiation treatments.
Name: St John’s Wort
Botanical name: Hypericum perforatum
The Plant: St John’s Wort is an erect perennial growing to 80 cm with bright yellow flowers in a flat-topped cluster. It is indigenous to all parts of Europe and Asia, where it thrives in temperate regions preferring a sunny site and well-drained, chalky soil. It has now invaded North America, Australia and other places where it has been declared a noxious weed because it causes photosensitisation in fair-skinned livestock. It can be grown from seed or by root division. If one were to hold a leaf up to the light they would note little pin prinks of light and black spots on the underside, which is a way of distinguishing the plant.
The Oil: If the goal is to make infused oil for topical application, the flowering tops are sometimes picked in summer when the five-petaled flowers have opened, otherwise the entire plant above ground is used for the dried herb and must be dried quickly to preserve the actives. Each petal has oil glands that contain hypericin, the active that makes this an amazingly useful herb.
Key Actions: Antidepressant, analgesic, antiseptic, antibacterial, anti-viral, antioxidant, anti-spasmodic, wound healer, anti-inflammatory, sedative, astringent, cholagogue (stimulates bile)
Other Uses: St John's Wort herbal oil is a great addition to the treatment of your dog or cat's skin problems.
Precautions: St John’s Wort the oil can cause sensitivity (photosensitivity) to sunlight. Several drug interactions with St John’s Wort exist. These refer to the use of the standardised extract, not topical use of the infused oil. If you are on serious anti-depression medications, or other strong medications e.g. warfarin it is advised to check with your medical practitioner before using the herb in higher amounts and certainly if using a standardised potency formulation. (This usually means the pills or liquid extract of the herb.) It would be a mistake to miss out on the wonderful healing benefits of the infused oil, for fear of contraindications, which do not exist.