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.