St. John’s Wort and Inner Sunshine

 

Hypericum punctatum in bloom (early Aug)

Hypericum punctatum in bloom (early Aug)

St. John’s Wort’s genus is Hypericum. With about 490 species of this genus, we can just say that it’s a big family (smile). It is one of the most widespread herbs, covering all the the globe except in certain tropical areas, the polar regions, and the desert. And, it’s a good thing, because it has quite a bit of uses (and it’s just lovely to behold).

In almost every culture, there is a unique name for this plant and it is known to be a protective plant, energetically. Considering that this plant is always given a charged or potent name within the culture it is used, we can easily gather that its medicinal virtues are held in high regard.

With that said, I wanted to highlight two common St. John’s Wort species in the Central MS area. One can be used medicinally and one is not used medicinally.

Left - H. perforatum and Right - non-medicinal species of Hypericum

Left – H. perforatum and Right – non-medicinal species of Hypericum


I’ll go through the details in the images below. I wanted to show you how closely they resemble and what you should look for! First of all, the species here in MS ~ H. punctatum ~ has many, small red dots on its leaves (similar to the more common species H. perforatum). Look closely or hold a leaf up the sky to see the dots.

hypericin dots in the leaf

hypericin dots in the leaf


The dots are deposits of hypericin, a well-studied constituent that is said work synergistically with hyperforin. In concert, these two constituents lend St. John’s Wort its antibacterial and antiviral properties…as well as increasing dopamine levels.

You can begin to see why this herbal ally is such a great herb for SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) in that it will fight infection and viruses while boosting your mood in the Winter months. The affects do not work for all forms of depression, thought.  But for many people, it’s worth a shot. I would suggest taking St. John’s Wort in tincture form or in gel capsule form (not powdered pill form which has little to no medicinal potency).

St. John’s Wort is also used internally (tincture) and topically (infused in oil) for nerve damage and viruses embedded in the nerves (herpes simplex and shingles). Topically, this oil is ideally combined with comfrey root, comfrey leaf, and goldenrod for injuries to joints, tendons, and/or ligaments. At Sweet Gum Springs Apothecary, we also formulate this herb with lemon balm, reishi, and skullcap to make a shingles formula. St. John’s Wort is also used as nutritive herb in dried form (for infusions) in Europe.

Finally, we’ve made a St. John’s Wort elixir for those of you that will be participating in our next Community Supported Apothecary (CSA) offering. The elixir is a blend of local honey (from my beehive) and brandy with the whole plant material infused into this medium, imparting its characteristic ruby red color.

To get an idea of how beautiful the color gets from infusing it into different mediums, here’s the oil we made last year for the apothecary.
St. John's Wort infused in organic, EV olive oil

St. John’s Wort infused in organic, EV olive oil

 

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