Processing St John’s wort

The medicinal St. John’s Wort is Hypericum perforatum, there are other varieties with some similar make-up but the perforated one is the herbalists go to. As with all herbalism, correct identification is essential. Get a herb book from the library or bookshop and be 100% sure. In the case of this one the ‘perforatum’ is a clue and if you hold a leaf up to the light you will notice it’s pretty pattern of pin-pricks (perforations).

Herbal medicines can interact with conventional medicines and some even have side effects- always check with a qualified naturopath, herbalist or other holistic health profession to set dosage/duration and take any other advisement based upon your personal circumstances and case history.

Infused oil – This is a simple sunshine method to extract the healing phytochemicals contained within the flowers. Pick the blossoms and let them slightly wilt on the kitchen table for a couple of hours (or overnight) to let the excess moisture evaporate. Then place the wilted flower heads into a mason jar or clean jam jar and cover the contents with olive or rapeseed oil). Add a few extra glugs so that the petals are submerged under an inch of extra oil. Lid and shake. Then place in a sunny window for 4weeks. You can shake or swirl every second or third day. recipes

As with most sun infused recipes there is a colour change to the oil or to the flowers (as the phytochemicals leech out) that denotes it is ‘cooked’ and ready for use. In the case of St john’s wort the oil will turn red – a blood red (hence is naming after a Christian martyr saint). After for weeks strain out the flower heads and store the oil in a dry dark press.

Tincture: Almost as above but instead cover fresh flowers with vodka- shake every day, strain solids out after 4 weeks. The traditional dosage is 15 – 20 drops, 2-3 times daily.

Tisane/ Tea: Simply steep 2 – 3 teaspoons of fresh petals in just off the boil water for 4-7 minutes, strain the flowers out and sip at your leisure. It can be flavoured with a hint of honey or lemon but it has an inherently subtle lemony taste anyway.

About The Holistic Gardener

author of wellness books, columnist, keynote speaker.
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