The search for St. John’s Wort
I’ve been wanting to make St. John’s Wort oil for some time but I’ve had trouble finding St. John’s Wort or growing it. This year I’ve been trying to get several herbs to grow from seed. I even purchased organic seed starting mix this year thinking maybe THAT was the key to growing successful seedlings. Some are growing, some are not. Some grew and then bugs came and ate them. The little buggers! St. John’s Wort is one that got eaten by the bugs. I have replanted it, but it’s already mid-June and getting late for starting some things from seed.
Where we lived in the Jefferson National Forrest, I found either bushy or shrubby St. John’s Wort. You will know it because, well, it grows as a bush. I searched and searched online and found nothing about medicinal uses for any types of St. John’s Wort other than the non-bushy kind known as Hypericum perforatum. It’s called that because the leaves look like they have little holes in them–like they’re perforated. I even asked Susun Weed, well-known and long-time herbalist, when she posted about St. John’s Wort on her Facebook page, if I could use a different St. John’s Wort. She answered my question encouraging me to try it myself and see what I would find. I would, except that I didn’t even know what to expect–or have anything to compare it to. So I didn’t.
Now that we’ve moved I was hoping to either grow St. John’s Wort or find it in the wild. We live on a country road with very little traffic, so often times I’ll drive slowly scouring the roadside for medicinal plants. The other day I saw it! St. John’s Wort! It was near the road and not obvious who’s property it was. I waited a day. I waited two days. No one seemed to care about those buttery yellow flowers. But I was too chicken to stop and pick them.
My husband is being so supportive of my fascination with herbs even though he personally could care less about plants. I told him about the yellow flowers that I was hoping to be the right kind of St. John’s Wort, so on the way home from an errand, he pulled us over next to the flowers. “Want my pocket knife?” he asked. “Should I?” I was leery. He answered, “Yes!” So I got out and cut the tops off the plants. Feeling more courageous with my guardian knight in the driver’s seat I exclaimed, “There are elderberry flowers right over there! I should get some of those, too!” So I clipped the few that I could reach and scurried back into the car feeling a little naughty yet delighted to have found two flowers on my medicinal herb scavenger list.
Since I had found a local source of St. John’s Wort tincture and I only had a small amount of the flowers, I decided to make St. John’s Wort Oil. The reason I want to make St. John’s Wort oil is because it is reported to be effective for sore muscles, carpal tunnel pain, tennis elbow, sciatica pain, muscle spasms and even for healing nerve damage! I’ve had lots of issues with cramping and tensed up muscles and I’m looking forward to trying this out!
How to make St. John’s Wort Oil — So Easy
In a video I’ve added below, Susun Weed explains that you can clip the whole flowering tops off into the jar. I have seen where some carefully pluck each yellow blossom off the plant one at a time and place it into the jar, but I like Susun Weed’s method better! I didn’t chop up the stalk and stems like she did–maybe I should have–but I cut the flowering tops off, placed them in a jar and poured extra virgin olive oil over it. In her book, Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide, Rosemary Gladstar teaches us to use primarily the blossoms with some flowers and leaves, and that is what we have here.
Be sure to take a clean utensil and stir the plant material in the oil to get any bubbles out. Now pour enough oil to cover the plant material. Usually, some pieces will float. I recently read somewhere to put a piece of wax paper over the top and pressed down to keep the plant material under the medium. If leaves are sticking up above the oil, it’s very easy to mold. Rosemary Gladstar says to set the covered jar in a sunny windowsill for 2-3 weeks, then strain and bottle. All I have is a northern window, so that will have to do for me.
St. John’s Wort Oil should turn a bright red and I can’t wait to have it bottled up and displayed on my shelf. I will update this post when the finished product is ready.
Here are some videos from well-known herbalist Susun Weed to learn more about St. John’s Wort. She likes to call it St. Joan’s Wort after Joan of Arc.
St. John’s Wort Oil
St. John’s Wort Tincture