St. John’s Wort (Hypericum Perforatum)

It is the leaves and flowers of St. John’s wort that are used.

The active ingredients are hypericin, flavonoids and essential oils.

St John's Wort

St. John’s wort has a pretty small yellow flower and if you pick the leaf and hold it up to the light you will be able to see tiny perforations in the leaf, hence its Latin name perforatum.

It has anti viral properties and is an “alterative” which means it has the ability to restore to normal, the way an organ or system in the body works.

It also has a long tradition of being used as a nervous system supporting and repairing herb and has liver tonic properties.

At college we were told and all the literature says that St. John’s wort must not be used where the patient is showing symptoms of clinical depression.

In Germany it has long been used as an antidepressant and a liver cleansing herb.

When we were doing the shingle beach walk, my husband, (and cameraman) Mike said to me jokingly, “is there anything to treat shingles?” well Ha Ha yes there is, one of the things I do with the plant is pick the flowers and put them in a jar with oil (any oil will do) for about six weeks in full sun light.  This will produce the beautiful Hypericum oil which is about the only thing I know to relieve the pain of shingles when rubbed on externally to them, at the same time as working against the herpes zoster virus which causes shingles.

I use the tincture in my clinic to put in to mixes to support the nervous system and the immune system. If I think there is a need for a direct anti viral in a mixture, then St. John’s wort and elderflower tinctures are top of my list.

Word of warning…….St John’s wort has a photosensitising action both if used externally and internally so if you are taking it, cover up in bright sunlight.

Linda Bostock

Medical Herbalist/herbal health information