Dance with Hypericum perforatum – Saint Joan’s (John’s) wort

My beloved Hypericum perforatum is a member of the Hypericaceae family, of the Hypericum genus.

A native to Europe and Asia, she now grows throughout the northern hemisphere where seasons and rainfall have a relationship pattern. Think of our spring to autumn rains. Hypericum takes roots in meadows/lawns, along hedgerows, and on high, dry, sunny hilltops. She seems to make her home in most sunny locations that are less traveled (I rarely see here along roadways, or common paths). She begins her blooming as summer takes root, and her blooms (and flowering tops) are harvested throughout the summer months.

The size of the plant is influenced by its environment (soil quality, compactness, sun exposure and the like). She is a creeping perennial that can grow to upward of 3 feet high (and higher), though she tends to droop as the season evolves. Her stems are erect, somewhat woody, branching at the upper section, with opposite, oblong leaves measuring about
to 1 inch, with their telltale pellucid dots.

She is considered a non-native invasive by some, though I find her quite well behaved. The plant, apparently, is known to be toxic to grazing animals.

Her genus is born of Greek, hyper meaning above and eikon meaning an image, a picture. This botanical name reflects the history of the plant being hung over religious icons during the Christian Saint John’s day with intentions of protection. In all likelihood, this practice is much older. But rest assured, she is protective!

Parts used: Buds, flowering tops.

Harvest: Budding and flowering tops, typically July to September in my part of the world.

Taste: Bitter, astringent, resinous. The fresh flower is often described as acrid, though I enjoy nibbling a few fresh buds and flowers every year.

Energetics: Cooling.

Chakra association: Solar Plexus (and the Crown)

Key Actions: Anodyne, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, nervine (relaxing), trophorestorative (invites harmony and balance to a particular organ or system - in this case, the nervous system - whether the function is in excess or deficient).

Constituents: Hypericin, bitters, flavonoids, tannins, volatile oils, and others.

Contraindications: To me, none, though care of use, application and dosage should always be considered with pregnancy and breastfeeding. You’ll likely run across writings that warn of photosensitivity, which is not without merit… if you’re munching on it in a pasture with other grazing animals, or ingesting it in dry, powdered, capsulated form. Using this plant in the traditional ways (tea, tincture, infused oil) has not, in my experience and those around me, presented such a contraindication.

You might also come across information warning you that it interferes with monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), once-popular antidepressant medications… or that it is an MAOI, complete with the dangerous side effects of the once-popular meds. It is not an MAOI, and while the fantasy-theory persists, it has long been disproven. Henriette Kres shares on her website that the constituent “Hypericin does show some MAO-inhibition in vitro at very high concentrations. At regular human doses, though, virtually nil.”

I’ve heard, too, that it can interfere with the efficacy of other pharmaceuticals, but have not read anything that convinces me of this. Of course, until such time that the pharmaceutical industry can tell me how their drugs interact with all their other drugs (and foods, and herbs), I choose to trust botanicals (and other Nature-born foods) used in their long-standing traditional ways.

Medicinal useFlame. Burns, inflammation, nerve injury and involvement, general wound healing. And think of these indications not only in physiological terms, but holistic terms as well.

I use Hypericum perforatum for burns of all kinds, to both treat and prevent.

For years she has been sunscreen in both oil and tincture form. My experience (and I hear this from others) is that her impact seems cumulative, meaning I’ve needed her less and less for this purpose over the 20-r-so years I’ve been using her in this way. You may have heard that Hypericum perforatum causes photosensitivity, but my findings suggest this is true only in the use of it in capsule form, which is not a traditional application of the herb, as Susun Weed often reminds us.

I keep her in my kitchen for treating burns that happen there, applying a bit to the injured area as soon as it happens. I find a spray bottle of tincture blended with a bit of (responsibly and sustainably procured) glycerin or (better yet) local honey to be a fast and simple way to administer the herb to the injury. It mixes nice with aloe too, for this use. Balms and salves made with an infused oil of Hypericum perforatum are useful for the same, especially over the course of healing the wound.

I read an article, years back, by Susun Weed in Sage Woman magazine of how she used it to prevent muscle soreness after excessive physical exertion. Since then, I’ve employed the tincture after such activity, internally (and topically), especially after the first major snowfall of winter (I shovel) and during the first garden tasks in spring (after a lazy winter hibernation). My results with this application never cease to dazzle me.

The Remington and Wood, 1918, The US Dispensary shares, “Among the complaints for which it was used were hysteria, mania, intermittent fever, dysentery, gravel, hemorrhages, pectoral complaints, worms, and jaundice; but it was, perhaps, most highly esteemed as a remedy in wounds and bruises, for which it was employed both internally and externally.”

It is certainly a wonderful Medicine for nerve injuries. Boericke, 1901: Materia Medica states, “The great remedy for injuries to nerves, especially of fingers, toes and nails. Crushed fingers, especially tips,” and I can attest to this. Of course, I’ve used it with injuries of every kind, especially where the nerves are excited or flaming. It mixes well with antispasmodics as a lovely and effective tincture (liniment) for dripping and/or gentle massage along the spine for back injuries. Quite frankly, I find this practice to have a positive impact on injury, inflammation, pain and most any disharmony most anywhere in the body.

Hypericum perforatum also promotes healthy tissue growth.

So, you can see why this botanical is a fixture in my Medicine bag.

Spiritual relationship: This is the botanical that asks, “Have you been burned?” It is also the botanical that asks, “For what do you burn?” Need I say more?

Energetically, I find this herb to be a great match-up for those who carry the burden of trauma (past, present and future) with them and seem to enjoy sharing it with others, who wear their life-injuries like a badge, and who exhibit addictive-like behaviors to such less-than-positive and depleting experiences.

In such instances, and other intuitively guided cases, I’m most often drawn to use Hypericum perforatum as a tincture in super-homeopathic doses, as a flower essence, and in blessing waters.

Some Usual Applications
Infused vinegar (abrasions, small wounds)
Infused oil
Balms, ointments, lotions
Spiritual healing - bathing, flower essence

Wikipedia for the botany bits
Boericke, 1901: Materia Medica
Henriette Kress
Remington and Woods, 1918, The Dispensary
Rosalee de la ForĂȘt (notes from writings, workshops)
Susun Weed (various books, writings, videos, lectures)
and various notes from experience, workshops and classes


Walk in the Woods, LLC
Whiting Mills
sunny Winsted, Connecticut