St. Johnís Wort

Latin Name
Hypericum perforatum

General Description
Herbalists now know that the flowers of the plant called St. John's Wort, used for centuries to heal wounds, contain hypericin, a substance with germicidal, anti-inflammatory and antidepressant properties. These blooms also hold high concentrations of chemicals known as flavonoids, which are thought to boost the immune system. The plant (wort means "plant" in Old English) was named for St. John the Baptist, because its blood-red flowers are said to bloom on the anniversary of his execution. A woody perennial, its leaves are dotted with glands that produce a red oil when pinched.

Target Ailments
Used externally for:

Taken internally, in consultation with an herbalist or a doctor for:

Over the counter:
Available as dried leaves and flowers, tinctures, extract, oil, ointment, capsules and prepared tea.

At home:
Tea: 1 to 2 tsp. dried herb added to 1 cup boiling water, then steeped for 15 minutes.
Oil: A commercial preparation can be used, or made by soaking the flowers in almond or olive oil until the oil turns bright red.
Ointment: A commercial preparation can be used, or made by warming the leaves in hot petroleum jelly or a mixture of beeswax and almond oil.
Fresh: Crushed leaves and flowers applied to cleaned wounds.
Tincture: 1/4 to 1 tsp. added to an 8-oz. glass of water and consumed daily.

Special Information

Possible Interactions
Amino acids tryptophan and tyrosine; amphetamines; asthma inhalants; beer, coffee, wine; chocolate, fava beans, salami, smoked or pickled foods, and yogurt; cold or hay fever medicines; diet pills; narcotics; and nasal decongestants:
Avoid these substances when using St. John's Wort. All contain chemicals that react adversely to hypericin, causing high blood pressure and nausea.