St John's Wort
June 2018, posted by Isabelle
The vibrant yellow 5 petal flowers of hypericum perforatum are at their peak at the time of the summer solstice. 24th of June was the day when the Celts celebrated the brightly coloured plant which they named ‘the messenger of celestial fire’ and which they dedicated to Baldur, their Sun God.
A powerful Remedy to ward off Demons & maleficient Forces and bring Light forth
The celts were merely repeating a long live folklore that had been passed on from civilisation to civilisation,.
In Ancient Egypt, the plant was reputed to absorb the energy of the sun and sun light, to redirect this divine energy to repel demons, malevolent forces and attract positive elementals. It was thus known as the ‘fairy herb’ right through to the middle ages.
People used to carry twigs as a protective bunch or hang it on their doorstep. With the help of the Gods and the Saints, Hypericum (literally meaning ‘over an apparition’) was to offer protection from evil wizardry, witches spells and demoniac forces, believed to be responsible for mental disturbance and instability. The plant was thought to have an aroma reminiscent of frankincense. One whiff of this godly scented herb was said to be sufficient to make evil spirits fly away.
Hypericum is one of the 7 herbs associated with St John the Baptist, a great solar adept in the Essene tradition who recognised Christ as the very source of the Sun. The alchemical significance of the Christ mystery is reflected in the oil produced from the flowering tops of the plant. As the yellow flowers infuse in oil, they turn the liquid into a deep blood-red colour. From this tradition derives the common names for the herb of herba sanctus Ioannis or St John’s Wort (from middle English Wyrt meaning herb) and the ‘Blood of Christ’.
Paracelsus & XVIth century Medicine
Moving away from superstition and evil spirits, Paracelsus, a Swiss physician, revolutionised the understanding of depression and mental instability by calling it an illness by the name of ‘Phantasma’. In his opinion, it is a disease without a body or substance for which there is no cure except hypericum. The herb will carry on being a favourite remedy until the end of the XIXth century when pharmaceutical drugs started to take over and be promoted on a larger scale
Hypericum Perforatum - Botany & Traditional Uses
There are 160 species of hy[ericum, 9 of which are English. Hyericum perforatum is known as common hypericum. It is a tall bush which can reach 1 m in height and spreads easily by means of runners.
‘Millepertuis’ is the common name for St John’s Wort in French, meaning a thousand pertuis or holes. Indeed the leaves hold a multitude of tiny translucent glands that look like little holes which have earned the plant its botanical name ‘perforatum’ – perforated with a thousand holes.
The second characteristic of the plant lies in the buds (not the flowers themselves) which when crushed release a red substance, which according to Dioscoride, 2000 years ago, resembles human blood.
Up to the end of the XVIth century, the doctrine of signature played an important role in the pharmacopeia of western culture. It is based on the belief that God had given a sign - signature – through the shape, colour, taste, smell and other characteristics of a plant. This sign shows the purpose of creation for that plant and its specific use in healing the human body.
Wiliam Coles (1626-1662) in his ‘ The Art of Simpling’ says of hypericum ‘little holes whereof the leaves of Saint Johns Wort are full, doe resemble all the pores of the skin and therefore it is profitable for all hurts and wounds that can happen therunto’.
Hippocrates and before him Dioscoride recommended rubbing the crushed leaves of hypericum over cuts, wounds, burns and all sorts of skin complaints.
The Oils of Hypericum
The plant is most commonly used as a maceration. The buds and flowers are steeped in a vegetable oil, usually sunflower or olive and left in full sun for 10 to 20 days during which the flowers ooze a deep red substance – hypericin. The preparation is then filtered. The optimum harvest time is when the flowers are still in buds or have just blossomed. This is when the anti-viral and anti-inflammatory compounds - hypericin and pseudo-hypericin - are at their highest.
There is also an essential oil of hypericum distilled not from the flowers or leaves but from the fruit/seed capsules which when the anti-depressant compounds in this specific part of the plant, are at their highest.
The macerat and essential oils contain different compounds, used for different ailments.
Science & Modern Age
By the mid XXth century, studies isolated the various compounds of St johns wort - Hypericin, hyperforin, flavonoids, tanins…, determined their interactions and efficiency in numerous medical trials. The results confirmed the traditional and empirical uses of St John’s Wort.
The action of hypericum (essential oil or extract) to treat mild cases of depression, seasonal depression, anxiety and sleep disorder has now been scientifically recognised. Clinical trials have recognised that patients with depression could in some cases respond better to hypericum than placebo or antidepressant medication.
The red oil produced through maceration, rich in flavonoids, contains high level of anti-inflammatory and anti-viral agents. This oil does not have any anti-depressant agent.
The macerated oil has been found useful to ease
- cuts, wounds, external ulcers,
- burns and sun burns.
- Wounds involving nerve damage
- Inflamed nerve condition – neuralgia, sciatica, rheumatic pain
Recipes & Ideas
Our St John’s Wort is macerated in cold-pressed sunflower and certified organic by the Soil Association. It is deep red in colour and a rich oil. Although it can be applied neat, particularly topically to heal wounds, cuts, bruises and burns, it is better to dilute it with a lighter carrier oil such as jojoba, argan or sunflower if used for a full body massage or body oil.
SUN OIL – to apply at the end of the day – for 100ml
Tamanu - 15ml
Avocado – 15ml
st John’s wort – 20ml
Argan – 20ml
Sesame – 30ml
1 to 2 % essential oil can be added, 1 / 2ml lavender or 1ml frankincense with 1 ml neroli
NEURALGIC PAIN / SCIATICA – 100ml bottle
St John’s wort 30ml
3% essential oil can be added for topical application. There are quite a few to choose from.
Lavender, Geranium, Peppermint, Helichryum, Marjoram, eucalyptus globulus – anti-inflammatory, promoting circulation, analgesic (reduces pain), anti-spasmodic. 3% represents about 90 drops.
RHEUMATISM – 100ml bottle
St John’s Wort 30ml
Use 2% of the following blend
Peppermint 5 drops
Orange 10 drops
Ginger 15 drops
Cypress 15 drops
Myrrh 15 drops
CUTS & WOUNDS
St John’s Wort can be used neat in conjunction with lavender and/or tea tree
Hypercin is phototoxic. If it helps soothing sun burn, it can also cause them. Do not apply or ingest prior to exposure to sunlight. Hypericin may also interact with certain drugs. Check with your GP if you are already taking medications (contraception, diabetes, some antibiotics). Do not use in conjunction with anti-depressant drugs.