Last year, I had the pleasure of being introduced to St. John’s wort at the Heartstone Herbal School, and it changed my life. Over twenty years ago, it got a lot of press for its ability to calm the nerves and relieve anxiety, but I never gave it much attention. However, I learned last year that if you use it topically, it relieves nerve pain and has anti-inflammatory properties as well as help cells regenerate. After applying the salve or oil, you will feel relief within 10 minutes. I’ve used it on backaches, sore muscle, bruises, shingles and my son’s growing pains with wonderful results. I gave it to my mother for her neuropathy and she thinks that there might be some relief, but the jury is still out on that one.
It is a wonderful herb to use and work with as it reacts while you are making medicine. Let me explain further. Around the summer solstice, St. John’s wort starts to bloom. This is the time to harvest the flowers, right as the buds are starting to open. The unopened flowers have the highest concentration of hypericin, which is the medicinal property you want to extract into your oil.
How I make St. John’s wort oil:
- Collect the flower tops.
- Tear apart the flower buds and leaves, discard stems and put in a clean dry glass jar. As you are pulling apart the buds, your fingers will start to turn purple this is a good sign. That is the hypericin being release.
- Fill jar at least ¾ full with St. John’s wort.
- Add organic cold press olive oil to the jar, or your favorite vegetable based oil (jojoba, almond, sesame, grape seed…), leaving about ¼ inch from the top.
- Stir; make sure all the herbs are saturated and below the oil.
- Cap and shake.
- Label the jar with the name of the plant, oil, harvest location, and date.
- Put in a dry place that gets full sun. I put all my infused oils on a windowsill that gets southern exposure on the 2nd floor of my house. You might want to put a dish under it as sometimes the oil oozes out.
- Shake every day; watch the oil change from yellow to dark red – that’s the hypericin infusing with the oil.
- Periodically, open and check for condensation on the lid and rim, if you find some, simply wipe off and recap.
- Wait 6 weeks.
- Strain the oil through a cheesecloth or muslin and let sit over night
- The leftover herbs and moisture will have settled and you do not want that in your oil, so strain again through cheesecloth.
- Your oil is ready, you can use it as is or make it into a salve.
There are many ways to make medicinal oils. This is just one way. I have tried other methods, learned from other herbalists and read a great deal and this way resonates with me and gives me wonderful results. Some herbalist let their oils sit in the dark, or control the heat, sit for 2 weeks, a lunar phase…there are so many options. This is just one way, my way; it just simply makes sense to me.
When you collect any herbs, please keep in mind:
- Be sure you have made a definite identification, use a field guide.
- Harvest it in a respectfully way, leave some, please do not overharvest, make sure there will be a healthy crop for the future.
- Harvest away from traffic and areas where chemicals have not been sprayed or animals relieve themselves.
If you are unsure, it is best to move on and not harvest in that area.
All information is shared for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition.