St John’s Wort is a tricky one.
It is so beautiful with its sunny yellow flowers, perforated leaves and unique purpley-red dye that stains your fingers when the buds are squished.
We use St John’s Wort as an anti-anxiety/anti-depressant remedy “sunshine in a bottle”, as a powerful wound healer in our Herbal Healing Salve, as a sunscreen and currently, I am working on a new face cream recipe with St John’s Wort-infused almond oil as an SPF component.
For years, my St John’s Wort oils and tinctures never had the red hue that they should have had.
I was either using my own harvest from our local forest or quality sourced St John’s Wort from a local herb shop. All of these were used dried.
My oils and tinctures were very often amber or slightly brownish. I didn’t understand why.
After doing some research, it was made clear to me that the drying process degrades the medicinal action of St John’s Wort, therefore, for St John’s Wort to be as effective as possible, it must be processed while fresh. The buds and flowers hold the bulk of the medicinal constituents. This makes harvesting a bit trickier.
In our area, St John’s Wort grows everywhere, but blooms for only two short weeks at the end of June/early July according to the weather and elevation. This gives me two weeks of harvest near my house and an additional week (if I’m lucky) in the hills at a higher elevation.
I use St John’s Wort all year in oil and tincture form. It is highly prized here and if it can only be processed fresh for best results, then I have to get myself out harvesting and harvest often during this couple of week window that I have.
I harvest the tops of the plants, gathering as many buds as possible. Leaving them for a couple of days to wilt, I then chop just the buds and flower heads up as finely as possible and infuse them in oil or alcohol. I leave stems and leaves to add to my Keep Calm Tea.
Using this method, my oils and tinctures have been a deep red colour and I feel their potency has markedly improved.