Scientific name: Hypericum perforatum
St. John’s Wort has been used throughout history and is known as a powerful herb. Many ancient people used it for a variety of healing purposes. Today, while being known to interact with just about any other medication (so you must be very careful when taking in capsule form), it is very effective for anxiety.
Personal experience: Going away to college was a very stressful time for me, so much so I was getting sick to my stomach every time I traveled to the town. Not being on any other medications, it was safe for me to take the capsule form, which I did for 2-3 weeks. Strictly following the directions on the box – slowly building up the dose over a few days – it worked like magic. Once I felt more calm and secure in myself, I slowly decreased the dose as recommended and didn’t have any more (extreme) anxiety problems.
- Effective for: mild depression, anxiety, stress, & tension
- Heals nerve damage
- Improves seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
- Heals bruises, sprains, burns & other injuries: using the red oil topically, it relieves pain and promotes tissue repair
There are a few real cautions when using St. John’s Wort. Like said before, if you’re taking any other medications, consult your doctor to see if they will affect each other. It can also cause sensitivity to the sun for some people, so if you start getting rashes or itchy, stop using. To replace your antidepressant medications, work with your doctor to ensure you’re doing it in the best and safest way possible. Lastly, if pregnant, most herbs taken internally are not the safest for the baby so definitely consult your doctor before taking anything.
(consult a doctor if experiencing any serious conditions)
- Anxiety or mild depression: mix a tea with St. John’s Wort flower, oat tops, lemon balm leaf, and spearmint leaf. Drink a few cups per day as needed.
- Rashes, burns, cuts: create a salve with St. John’s Wort leaf & flower, calendula flower, comfrey leaf, some olive oil and beeswax. See directions in Medicinal Herbs by Rosemary Gladstar.
How to Grow
Where do you live?
St. John’s Wort is considered a weed, and a hardy one at that. It does grow best in zones 3-9.
Put em in the ground
It can be grown from seeds, but they will need to be stratified – exposed to winter-like temperatures for a time. If you’re not willing to do this, find a nursery that carries the variety mentioned here. Other varieties may look nicer, but won’t be as effective for medicinal purposes. It will grow to be 3-4 feet tall and can replant itself easily.
- Full sun (but can handle partial shade)
- Somewhat dry soil (but can handle a variety of soil conditions)
- Soil pH 6-7
As a hardy weed, this plant is pretty low maintenance!
- Right as the buds are ready to open (to test, press one with your fingers and look for a purple or red color). Check daily, the harvest window is only few days long.
- Gather on a sunny day to ensure the flowers are dry.