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ST JOHN'S WORT (Hypericum perforatum)



St John's wort

St John's wort is a common meadowland plant that has been used as a medicine for centuries. Early European and Slavic herbals mention it. The genus name Hypericum is from the Latin word hyper, meaning "above," and icon, meaning "spirit." The herb was once hung over doorways to ward off evil spirits or burned to protect and sanctify an area.

The plant, especially its tiny yellow flowers, is high in hypericin, hyperforin and other flavonoid compounds. If a flower bud is crushed between the fingers a burgundy red juice will be release which is evidence of the flavonoid hypericin. St. John's wort oils and tinctures should display this red colouring, which indicates the presence of the desired flavonoids.

Preparations of St John's wort may be ingested for gastritis, internal bruising and inflammation or following a traumatic injury to the external muscles and skin. It can also help to fight the resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria (MRSA) due to its antibacterial substance hyperforin and has ant-inflammatory and pain- relieving abilities as powerful as the common preparations such as Ibuprofen but without the side effects.

It is especially useful in the treatment of anxiety, depression and insomnia and can be helpful to both men and women who suffer these symptoms and other emotional disturbances especially during the andropause or menopause asnd has been shown to improve the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). It has a similar effect to conventional prescribed antidepressants but without the common side effects.

St. John's wort has long been used externally as an anti-inflammatory for cramps, contusions, gastritis, pelvic pain, sprains, strains and tension that results in muscular spasms. The oil is useful when applied to wounds and bruises or rubbed onto strains, sprains or varicose veins. When rubbed onto the belly and breasts during pregnancy, the oil may also help prevent stretch marks and topical application is also useful to treat haemorrhoids and aching, swollen veins that can also occur during pregnancy.

St. John’s wort, used as a natural pain killer, is twice as effective as ibuprofen without the side effects. It also has potential as a cancer-fighting drug. One study showed that mice injected with the feline leukaemia virus were able to fight off the infection after just a single dose of St. John's wort.

The fresh buds and leaves can be made into oils for topical use or dried for teas and capsules. Oils are made by soaking pureed leaves and flowers in olive oil for four to six weeks. Unlike most herbal oils, St. John's wort should be processed in direct sunlight.


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The decoction of the stems and roots of this Amazonian plant mixed with wild bee honey is used to treat sterile women. A root decoction is used for post-menstrual haemorrhages, the alcoholic maceration for rheumatism. A root decoction is also used as a cardio tonic, anti-anaemic and anti-malarial medicine. Macerated leaves, bark and root, mixed with rum, are used by the “Creoles” as aphrodisiac. The “Sionas” tribe use a leaf decoction for fever. The “Wayapi” use the decoction of the bark and stem as a dental analgesic. Some Ecuadorian “Ketchwas” use the leaf decoction for conjunctivitis and snakebite. Others use the root tea for difficult delivery and nervous or weak children with colic.

  • Herbal Tea: Infuse two to three teaspoons per cup of hot water. Drink three or four cups of tea a day.

  • Tincture: Take half to three quarters of a teaspoon, every four to eight hours.

The only side effect experienced by users of St John's wort is an increased sensitivity to direct sunlight.

NOTE: St John's wort may stop the contraceptive pill from working.

"Nature cures not the physician..." Hippocrates 460 BC


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