Wednesday, June 1, 2016

So Grateful for St John's Wort!

It seems like a few centuries ago, when I was walking up a hill with David my (then) youngest, and Angelina, and of course Gandalf (canine version).

Angelina was the old woman from up the road who took me under her wing and taught me how to care for chickens, kill chickens, stuff a mattress with sheep wool, how to tease and clean the wool, how to do a painless injection, how to live the country life.

David was complaining in the way that small children do, and she stuck her hand into the abundance of wild flowers growing next to the road and pulled out a yellow flower. She told David that this was a magical flower, that turns red in oil. He calmed and picked more.

I already knew that, though, because the place we lived when I was pregnant with him was in a tower in the middle of a medieval village, and I was surrounded by peasant women who wanted to teach me things. I knew that this plant was powerful. We moved to the farm in March and by June 24 the hills were alive with yellow flowers. I picked huge bunches and hung them up to dry in our kitchen, made oil, and even made a little tincture.

The name is St John's Wort, because it blooms on June 24, and that is the saint day for St John.

Another Italian name for it is "Cacciadiavoli", which is nice because it means "hunt the devils". Or you can just call it hypericum, after its latin name "Hypericum perforatum".

What does this powerful plant do?

Under strict supervision, the leaves and flowering tops can be used to treat depression. It is very important to note that this is a powerful medicinal plant and can have serious side effects and interactions with other drugs if taken daily to treat psychological symptoms.

The oil can be used during childbirth to ease labor pains, for muscle or skeletal aches and pains (always used externally and never on broken skin or mucus membranes), for sunburn or other slight boo-boos.

The tincture can be used to treat acute conditions, 15 drops under the tongue for headaches, sciatica or other severe pains but never more than two or three times over a few days.

It can cause photosensitivity and does react with some pharmaceuticals if taken to alleviate chronic conditions.

Here is a video that will teach you how to prepare an oil with this lovely, powerful and magical plant!