Growing and Cultivating St John’s Wort
Named after its time of bloom – June 24, the birthday of John the Baptist – St. John’s wort has yellow flowers with distinctive oval-shaped, elongated petals, as well as a rich history of being used as medicine dating back to ancient Greece.
Theorized by scientists to be native to Europe, the western United States and parts of Africa and Asia, St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) possesses impressive antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties and is thus used for a variety of medical purposes, such as alleviating depression and relieving physical and emotional symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) in women.
Cultivation of St John’s Wort
St. John’s wort is a perennial plant that likes its sun (but will stubbornly thrive in partial shade).
Likewise, it loves light, warm, sandy soil, but can also spring to a healthy height of just about 3 feet even in poor soil. So easy it is to grow that it is considered a pernicious weed in some locations.
If you’re growing St. John’s wort, make sure to keep a close eye on its growth spread because it has a tendency to crowd out more delicate herbs. The best time to grow St. John’s wort is in early spring or fall.
- Locate an area (preferably indoors) that receives plenty of sunlight.
- You can grow St. John’s wort from either seeds, stem cuttings or root divisions. In order to accelerate germination, soak in warm water overnight or for a few hours.
- Let the plant flower before you harvest. St. John’s wort usually produces yellow blooms in late July. Harvest a third of the plant – both flowers and leaves.
- Dry the leaves and flowers by storing in a dark and cool place from 7-10 days or speed up drying using a dessicator.
Tips on Growing St. John’s Wort
- Separate each plant by at least one feet as the roots have a wide spread.
- If you live in a cold area, then consider growing in a pot and burying it in soil to get through the winter.
- During the winter, cover the plant with a layer of mulch.
Medicinal Uses of St John’s Wort
St. John’s wort was highly valued in ancient Greece as both a medicinal plant and as a charm that could ward off evil.
It was used as a cure for a range of illnesses, including “nervous disorders”, but the story goes deeper than that. Its name, “Hypericum”, comes from the Greek word which means “over an apparition”, indicating that the plant was considered powerful enough to ward off evil spirits. Today, it is widely used as a substitute for anti-depressants due to the fact that it produces comparatively fewer side effects, and is also used for numerous other medicinal purposes.
Fight depression – While the jury is still out on the efficacy of St. John’s wort as an antidepressant, scientists are generally on the consensus that it might be effective in fighting low to mild depression, such as seasonal mood disorder, without any of the side effects. It may also soother anxiety, increase appetite and concentration, and make for easier sleeping.
Say bye-bye to PMS – Cramps, food cravings, irritability and breast tenderness are some of the main problems that women have to face at that time of the month. A small dose of St. John’s wort tea or liquid extract can relieve those symptoms of PMS considerably.
Stop worrying about sunburns – Cleanse your skin before applying St. John’s wort oil on top of the burns. The healing effect should be immediately apparent, but sometimes, they can take time. Moreover, this plant has been proven to be highly effective and clinically safe way to treat regular burns unrelated to the sun.
Soothe minor wounds and pains – The antibacterial properties of St. John’s wort help in fighting inflammation, muscle pain, as well as wounds and hemorrhoids. If the wounds are open, then mix the oil with alcohol before applying topically.
Prevent infection – St. John’s wort acts as a mild antibiotic, but also has the ancillary properties of a disinfectant. It is an excellent antiseptic, an active microbicide, and helps to fight gastritis and gingivitis. It is also a great weapon against thrush. Using it in oil form will yield the best results, but the capsule form doesn’t do too shabbily either.
Bring life back to dry skin – Applying St. John’s oil is a great way to increase circulation beneath your skin, which helps to keep your skin hydrated and moisturized. Skin diseases like dermatitis and eczema are no match for the healing power of this versatile plant. Moreover, St. John’s wort’s antioxidant properties allow it to not only rejuvenate dry skin, but also maintain natural skin moisture, thus keeping your skin looking radiant.
Treat Restrained Rheumatoid Arthritis – Commonly known as RA, Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes its victims severe pain. It is recommended to massage St. John’s wort oil, rather than the powder, over the areas where the pain is most intense.