Why St. John's Wort is SO much more than an anti-depressant
I'm in love with St. John's Wort. Like, seriously. I had heard other herbalists speak of the cheer and mirth they would feel when touching him, harvesting him or just merely delighting in his company... and I 100% vouch for this!
It's no wonder that in modern times St. John's Wort has become most famed for his antidepressant action — it's true that this golden plant, imbued (literally) with the essence of sunshine, has the ability to shine warmth and light into the dark spaces that we all, at times, harbour within us (though most herbalists agree he is certainly no 'cure' for severe/pathological depression, nor a 'quick fix').
But what I wanted to touch on here is some of the (many) other virtues St. John's Wort possesses — and why a tincture or infused oil of this plant is such a valuable part of any home medicine cabinet.
☼ NERVE PAIN / DAMAGE & SCIATICA St. John's Wort is the *supreme* herb for nerve pain, neuralgia, sciatica, spinal injuries and toothache. Not only can he assist to relieve the sharp, shooting pain associated with all of the above, he also helps repair damaged nerves. I'll never forget the story my herbal teacher Rosemary Gladstar shared of how when she suffered a severe burn to her finger that damaged her nerves to the point of having no feeling/sensation in that finger, she rubbed St. John's Wort oil into it 2-3 times daily until one day — sensation returned! Isn't that just wonderful? How to use for this purpose: Tincture taken internally and Topical infused oil applied to affected area.
☼ BURNS, SUNBURNS, LESIONS & WOUNDS Arnica is probably the most well known wound healer, but did you know St. John's Wort is a powerful vulnerary in his own right? And has been used for centuries for tending wounds on the battle field to burns in the kitchen, speeding up healing of tissue, reducing skin irritation and inflammation (including skin disorders such as eczema and acne) and minimising the appearance of scars. Being a herb of the sun, dear St. John's Wort will also soothe and heal sunburn, if you've had a little too much exposure.
And conversely, oiling your body with St. John's Wort before going out into the sun offers light sunblock protection! I do this myself, and so do many other herbalists. I do not recommend doing this if you intend to be out in full, powerful sun for prolonged periods (like lying on the beach), but if you're taking a short stroll down to the shops, or doing an hour of light gardening in the morning sunshine — St. John's Wort oil is just perfect.
How to use for this purpose: Topical infused oil.
☼ MUSCLE ACHES & PAINS Got a case of myalgia? You may find massaging affected muscles and joints with St. John's Wort oil brings welcome relief. As an external analgesic and anti-inflammatory, St. John's Wort offers pain relief to sore, strained muscles, inflamed tissue and rheumatic flare-ups.
How to use for this purpose: Topical infused oil liberally massaged into affected areas, repeating frequently.
☼ RELAXING NERVINE St. John's Wort is considered a nervine and sedative and works to strengthen and restore depleted, frazzled nervous systems as a whole. I find St. John's Wort to be beautifully softening and nourishing for deep tiredness, emotional and bodily pain, tension and anxiety. At the same time, he is also wonderfully uplifting to the spirits and acts specificially on the solar plexus system of our body, and energetic chakra (see — the whole 'sun theme' of St. John's Wort isn't some fanciful notion — patterns in nature are very intentional, and we just need to tune in to perceive this wisdom!)
☼ PAINFUL PERIODS, PMS & MENOPAUSAL SUPPORT St. John's Wort is a wonderful ally for women's reproductive and hormonal health. For the maidens and mothers, he can help to balance irregular periods, cramping and PMS symptoms; while for those moving through to the wise and beautiful crone stage of life, he offers deep support to the hormones, nervous system and various other symptoms of menopause. How to use for this purpose: Tincture taken internally and/or Topical infused oil applied to the womb area.
☼ HERPES / SHINGLES / VIRAL INFECTIONS Yup, St. John's Wort is an anti-viral and when used, works to prevent outbreaks, or reduce the duration of existing herpes outbreaks. The same applies for cold sores, shingles and other viral infections such as the flu.
☼ DIGESTIVE SUPPORT / LIVER HEALTH St. John's Wort is highly detoxifying to the liver, assisting stagnant liver function and increasing liver metabolism. In turn, this helps to kickstart sluggish digestion and issues that arise out of this (ulcers, constipation, etc). This aspect can't be highlighted enough as a healthy liver = healthy body. So many imbalances of the body, including many skin disorders, can be addressed by simply "looking to the liver".
How to use for this purpose: Tincture taken internally.
**PLEASE NOTE: St. John's Wort tincture is not recommended for those on certain medications (check with your physician), or the contraceptive pill. Why? Because he is such a strong hepatic (increases liver metabolism), so much so that he pushes medications through the liver quicker than they can work. If this means you, it's okay! You are still able to connect with St. John's Wort topically in infused oil form to your heart's content — as when used topically, the herb isn't processed via the liver.
If St. John's Wort is calling you, I have some luscious offerings in the online shop, all wildcrafted from the breathtaking alpine region of Victoria (see photo above!). These include my Australian Wildcrafted St. John's Wort Tincture and Australian Wildcrafted St. John's Wort & Wildcrafted Mugwort Oil infused in either cold pressed Australian Macadamia Oil or cold pressed Australian Organic Olive Oil.
Stock is limited. As the harvesting window for St. John's Wort is restricted to a few weeks each summer, once sold out, I'm unable to work with this incredible plant again until the following year (St. John's Wort is unique in that it must be worked with fresh, not dried, to retain its prized medicinal value!).
Solar blessings! x Mary ☼