Why Use St John’s Wort Oil?
July is the height of summer, and the countryside is a vast array of beautiful flowers, with butterflies and other insects busily flitting from one plant to the next. On a sunny day, I see so many wonderful herbs crying out to be picked and made into medicines, that I hardly know where to start! St John’s Wort oil is an incredibly useful medicine for nerve pain including sciatica and shingles.It can also be made into a cream we can use in first aid for burns, bumps, cuts, scrapes and bruises – think St John Ambulance! It even has some mild pain relieving properties.
St John’s Wort starts to flower around the time of St John’s Day on 24th June, very close to the summer solstice. St John was one of Jesus’ closest disciples, and of course Jesus’ birthday is celebrated very close to the winter solstice. An aerial view of St John’s Wort shows the leaves make a cross shape too, so it has a number of biblical connections. In folklore, St John’s Wort’s latin name ‘Hypericum’ is supposed to come from ‘hyper icon’ (above the icon) meaning it was used to treat hallucinations.
Here’s What You’ll Need To Make Your St John’s Wort Oil:
- A sterile jam jar
- Some good quality vegetable oil
- Some St John’s Wort flowers (usually available from end of June into mid August)
- A sunny windowsill
Making an oil from St John’s Wort couldn’t be easier. I always use a good quality oil for this recipe, like cold pressed sunflower oil. The cheaper supermarket brands will do, but St John’s Wort makes such a wonderful medicinal oil, that I feel it is worth the extra cost. Olive oil can be a bit heavy but will do if you have nothing else available.
On a warm sunny day in July, the bright yellow flowers of St John’s Wort will be out in all their glory – and it is just the flowers that are used to make this oil.
How To Make St John’s Wort Oil
- Gather the flowers carefully – if you pick them off right at the tips of their stalks, you will see that there is another pair of buds just below, waiting for their turn to flower. So by taking only the very terminal flower, you will ensure that the plant will continue to flower and eventually set seed – which is essential for long term survival.
- Put the flowers in the jar, and add the oil – enough to cover them, and just a little more.
- Place the jar on a sunny window sill and add more flowers every other day as they come out. Top up the jar with oil so they stay covered, and give them a gentle swish.
- Within about six to eight weeks, the oil will develop into a beautiful crimson red colour, as the flowers give up their goodness.
- Strain the oil, and put it into a sterilised bottle. Label it with the contents and date and store it in a cool, dry place. It can be safely used externally without worrying about drug interactions.
What Could Possibly Go Wrong?!
Although when you put the them together they look very different, some people confuse St John’s Wort with Ragwort, or a garden variety of Hypericum. Make sure you can tell them apart, as Ragwort is a Schedule 20 plant and should only be used by a Medical Herbalist. Garden varieties won’t work either!
Apart from the flowers, the other way you can make sure you have real St John’s Wort is to pick a leaf and hold it up to the light. If you can see what look like tiny holes on the back, you have St John’s Wort.