St. John’s Wort – Hypericum Perforatum
St. John’s wort is a perennial native to Europe, though it is found in many countries around the world.
St. John’s wort has yellow flowers with five petals. They may not have the best smell, but are quite beautiful to look at.
The leaves grow in opposite pairs along the stem and have lots of tiny oil glands.
When you hold the leaves up towards the light the oil glands look like holes.
When you crush the flowers of St. John’s wort a red pigment (It looks like blood.) will ooze out.
St. John’s wort is a spreading plant. You may find large meadows covered with St. John’s wort.
Uses and Herbal Remedies
St. John’s wort is not a cooking herb. St. John’s wort is a medicinal herb. The flowers have been used to make herbal tea for centuries.
Today this herb is also prepared in capsules and in tablets. St. John’s wort oil is produced for external use.
St. John’s wort is widely known for its ability to fight depression. It has been shown to be effective to treat mild to moderate depressions. This herb is also used to treat premenstrual and menopause mood swings.
In Germany St. John’s wort is often used as an antidepressant with many reports of good results.
St. John’s wort may work well when one has sleeping difficulties. It is used to help treat insomnia.
The red oil of St. John’s wort is used to repair damaged skin like burns and wounds. It may also be used on joint pains and rheumatic pains.
If you are taking any kind of medication it is important that you consult with your doctor first. Avoid St. John’s wort if you are pregnant or nursing.
St. John’s Wort in Folklore
The herb is named after St. John the Baptist because it blooms right around June 24th which is the birthday of John the Baptist and a feast day. “Wort” is an old English word meaning plant.
St. John’s wort has a long history of being a symbol of midsummer Solstice in Europe. The plant was often thrown into the bonfire and anyone feeling the urge would jump over the bonfire. This action was believed to cleanse the body of evil spirits.
For the Celts St. John’s wort represented the sun and went by the name “sol terrestis” meaning “terrestrial sun”.
It was traditional to hang St. John’s wort above pictures in the home to ward off evil powers.
This was especially effective if the pictures were of a religious nature and during midsummer celebrations.
Some people hung St. John’s wort over the door of the house to protect their home from evil influences.
Others took no chances at all and would fasten a flower of St. John’s wort on their clothes making sure they were protected at all times during midsummer.
It was believed the witches were extremely active around midsummer. St. John’s wort was a powerful remedy to protect the household against the dangers and threats of the witches.
Some believed that by putting St. John’s wort in their pillow St. John himself would appear during the night and give them a blessing that would protect them against evil influences.
During the Middle Ages St. John’s wort was used as an herbal remedy to fight insanity.
The oil of St. John’s wort has been used for centuries to treat cuts and wounds. The crusaders used St. John’s wort frequently when they were on their mission to the Holy Land.
The red oil of St. John’s wort was said to represent the blood of John the Baptist. He was martyred on June 29th when Salome (daughter of Herod) demanded his head. It is around this time the flowers of St. John’s wort start to wither.
Throughout the ages St. John’s wort has been a strong symbol of protection.