ST. JOHN WORT, Hypericum perforatum

Some herbs have a very special history, almost an inherent greatness. Hypericum was held in high esteem as a very important herb by the Greeks and Romans and by other civilizations for many centuries.

The Christians associated hypericum with John the Baptist. They said it started to bloom on June 24, the birthday of John the Baptist, and it dropped red drops on its leaves on the day he was beheaded. When you squeeze the yellow blossom of the hypericum between your thumb and fingers, some glands release a blood-red juice on your fingers and on the yellow petals. So now, the common name for hypericum is St. John’s wort (wort, meaning herb). It was said that the plant had special powers against evil spirits. Down through the Middle Ages, many people kept St. John’s wort in their homes,or carried it on their person as a charm to protect them against witches, goblins or evil spirits. However, if you were driving along the road, it wouldn’t look so special. It is a shrubby, perennial plant that likes dry, gravelly soil in sunny fields or clearings.

St John’s wort has a creeping root with runners. The herb grows to about two feet high. The round stock has many branches. The leaves have no stem, but grow right out of the stock in pairs. They are oblong to linear and are covered with little oil glands that look like holes that have been drilled through the leaf. When you hold the leaf up to the light, you can see right through these little holes. That is where the genus name comes from perforatum. The flower is yellow with five petals and it grows in an umbel or cluster and blooms from June until September. The herb is the part that is used. The whole plant smells a little like turpentine.

St. John’ wort is an antispasmodic that will help to relieve spasms throughout the body. It is an astringent that contracts the capillaries to slow down the flow of blood; it is an expectorant that helps to get rid of phlegm and mucus from the nasal and bronchial passages; it is a nervine that helps with neuralgia; it is a vulnerary that causes healing of fresh cuts and wounds, it is an aromatic that has a pleasant odor and will stimulate the gastrointestinal mucus membrane; it is good for enuresis (bed wetting), or for people or children who a re troubled with incontinence of urine; for most bladder problems and some kidney complaints. (Caution: Too much tea can make you sunburn easily).

There was a lady who was bothered by facial neuralgia. She was told to take two cups of St. John’s wort tea each day. She made warm fomentations and kept them on her face for a couple of hours twice each day. A fomentation is a concentrated tea that is soaked in a cloth and applied to an area. She made some oil of St. John’s wort by gathering a pint jar full of the flowers. Then she poured in as much pure olive oil as the pint jar would hold. She set it in the sun, shook it each day, and then strained it off in 14 days. The beautiful red oil is a sedative and analgesic (pain alleviating). Jethro Kloss who wrote Back to Eden was very high on St John’s wort. He wrote that St. John’s wort is a powerful blood purifier. It is very good in case of tumors and boils. It can be used for chronic uterine troubles, for after-pain in childbirth; is helpful for suppressed urine; for diarrhea, dysentery and jaundice. It will correct irregular menstruation. St. John’s wort is good in hysteria, and nervous affections. It is excellent for pus in the urine. It is good used externally in the form of a fomentation and ointment for a caked breast, all wounds, ulcers and old sores. It will correct bed wetting when proper diet is given.
If Jethro Kloss was right, everyone should raise about an acre of St. John’s wort for their own use.

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