St John’s Wort

Hypericum perforatum

Common Name: St John’s Wort, Tipton’s Weed, Chase-Devil, Klamath Weed, Touch and Heal, Goatweed

Family: Hypericaceae
TCM Name: Guan Ye Lian Qiao
Ayurvedic Name: N/A
Parts Used: Leaf, Flower
Native To: Europe


Medicinal Notes

According to White Rabbit Institute of Healing:

“St John’s Wort’s common name comes from the flower being harvested on St John’s Day, June 24th. The genus name Hypericum comes from the Greek words hyper (above) and eikon (picture) in reference to the traditional usage of the plant to ward off evil by hanging the plants over religious icons on St John’s day. The species name perforatum refers to the presence of small oil glands on the leaves that look like windows when held against the light (i.e. light perforating the leaves).

It has been used to heal sword wounds as far back as the Middle Ages. The Crusaders used the plants red oil to sooth and heal wounds.  It was said that stepping on St John’s Wort at dusk meant a night spent on the back of a fairy horse.  Christians identify the herb with St John saying the plant’s red pigment is St. John’s blood from his beheading. General treatments dose at 300mg to 1000mg daily. Macerating the flowers in oil yields a red sedative, analgesic rub that alleviates neuralgia. Used in homeopathy to heal post-surgery, cuts and wounds.

The flowers bloom midsummer and when crushed turn blood red, the color associated with wounds, menses, fertility and childbirth. It was felt that the plant was most potent during this period. Culpeper wrote, “The decoction of the herb and flowers… is [also] good for those that are bitten or stung by any venomous creature.” “



We harvest St John’s Wort in mid-summer, usually around July 17th. We are on the hunt early July to make sure that we locate patches of St John’s Wort that have lots of unopened buds. When crushed, the buds secrete a reddish-purple liquid that stains the fingers. I harvest almost exclusively buds as this is what has most of the potency. Saving the leaves and stems for tea, I process the buds fresh. I chop them as finely as possible and put them up immediately for tincture and infused oil. The tincture and oil should have a vibrant red colour. From my experience, dried material does not have the same potency as fresh and this is especially true for St John’s Wort.


St John’s Wort contains Hyperforin, Tannins, Flavonoids, Resins, Glycosides, Carotenes, Pectin, Hyproside.


According to Annie’s Remedy:

“St. Johns Wort has a demonstrated ability to act as an antidepressant in cases of mild depression and anxiety. St. John’s Wort is a tonic for the entire nervous system. This action is most strongly linked to two phytochemicals, hyperforin and hypericin. St. Johns was a useful member of the pharmacopoeia centuries before its use as an antidepressant was discovered. Drinking a cup of St Johns tea before bedtime can help children and adults troubled by incontinence, and M. Grieve recommended it be used in all pulmonary complaints, bladder troubles, in suppression of the urine, dysentery, worms, and diarrhea.

St. John’s is also effective in the treatment of herpes lesions. Compresses soaked in a strong tea, the infused oil or a tincture can be applied to active lesions. The anti-viral activity of St. John can also be used to treat flu viruses (but not cold viruses).

The fresh flowers of St. Johns when infused in oil produce a beautiful and powerful red oil that is anti-inflammatory and analgesic. This therapeutic oil has so many uses that you can sum it up by saying if it hurts, soothe it with St. Johns Oil. Some of the skin care uses for this oil include healing burns and damaged skin. Use St. Johns wort oil to calm the pain of sciatica, arthritis, fibromyalgia, muscle aches, PMS and breast tenderness.”


St. John’s Wort was popularly known as ‘Arnica of the nerves’ during the thirteenth century from the time it was used to treat psychiatric problems by the Swiss Physician Paracelsus.
I prescribe St John’s Wort tincture as an anti-anxiety and antidepressant nervine and it is a big player in my Healing Herbal Salve, a general wound healer.
Ways to Use: Tincture, Tea, Salve, Compress
Actions:  Anti-inflammatory, Antidepressant, Promotes Tissue Repair, Analgesic, Antibiotic 
Taste:  Bitter, Acrid, Astringent
Energy: Neutral
Adult Dose

Tea:   2 cups of infusion taken throughout the day (infuse 1 heaping T of leaves per cup of water, and steep at 10-15 minutes

Salve/Compress:  Use externally as needed

Tincture: 1-2 ml of tincture 3 times per day, at 1:4 strength




Extra caution should be exercised if one is taking any prescription drugs. If used in combination with other drugs or if other drugs are part of a treatment plan, St John’s Wort might react with these drugs and either enhance or inhibit the breakdown of these drugs. SSRI antidepressants should not be taken with St John’s Wort.

Studies have reported that the St John’s Wort plant can reduce the effectiveness of some prescription drugs like Digoxin, Warfarin and Indinavir, as well as birth control pills.

As safety information and the possible St John’s Wort side effects on pregnant or nursing women as well as young children are presently not really available, it is strongly recommended that these groups of people do not consume the herb.

Also, patients in advanced stages of depression may not want to rely only on St John’s Wort, since it has been proven effective mostly in treating mild to moderate forms of depression.



3 Comments on “St John’s Wort

  1. One of the specie of Saint John’s wort is an invasive exotic weed here. I pulled up quite a bit just recently. However, it happens to be one of the few herbs I want to grow in my own garden. When I do, I will probably go through the effort to obtain the Hypericum perforatum rather than grow the weed species.


  2. Pingback: Healing Herbal Salve: the miracle – Krista's Herbarium

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