St. John’s Wort

(Hypericum perforatum)

An herb that begs to be recognized this time of year is St. John’s Wort. It’s named after St. John the Baptist because it blooms around St. John’s Day. Some herbalists prefer to call this plant St. Joan’s Wort after Joan of Arc. Either way, the association with the sun and with fire is insinuated in the name and its medicine is sometimes called “sunshine in a bottle.”

Family: Hypericaceae

Names: St. John’s Wort, St. Joan’s Wort

Parts Used: flowering tops

Energetics: slightly sweet, mildly bitter, somewhat astringent, cooling

Actions: Nervine, anti-inflammatory, anti-depressant, analgesic, anti-viral, antiseptic, vulnerary

Indications: St. John’s’/Joan’s wort has a special relationship with the sun. It is one of the plants that help to bring sunshine to the dark places, illuminating the shadows of the body and mind. It has a long history of treating melancholy and gloominess (mild to moderate depression), as well as anxiety, nightmares and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It was considered a remedy for possession by evil spirits in Medieval times, which is sometimes interpreted as referring to psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, phobias and nervous breakdown.

It also has an affinity for preventing and healing all degrees of burns. Some sources caution that St. John’s Wort taken internally may cause photo-sensitivity and increase one’s susceptibility to sunburn, but others say that only applies to the capsules and standardized extracts, and that whole plant preparations like tinctures do not produce that effect. Susun Weed uses the infused oil as a sun-protectant for the skin. I use it as a remedy for both sunburn and regular burns from the oven. It reduces pain and redness from the skin very quickly, and I find that only 4-5 applications after a minor burn is needed to resolve all pain & redness, prevent peeling, blisters and scarring.

St. John’s Wort is considered cooling and can help to balance our internal fires when they get too intense. The fire element governs our sense of self worth, our abilities to transform food, and to make decisions. When our fire element is overactive, it can lead to irritability, anger and a desire to control everything. This type of chronic stress fries the nervous system, creates inflammation in the body, and makes us more susceptible to injury. St. John’s wort can ease inflammation, strengthen the nerves, decongest the liver, strengthen our gut-level instincts and heal our aches and pains when we overdo it or accidentally injure ourselves because we were too hasty.

St. John’s wort is wonderful remedy for wound-healing as it relieves pain, helps with tissue repair, and strengthens the integrity & elasticity of the capillaries, arteries & veins.

As an antiviral, St. John’s Wort has been shown to be useful in countering viruses such as HIV, herpes, measles, hepatitis A & B, and influenza.

It is overall a widely applicable plant and an indispensable part of any medicine cabinet, for its abilities to cheer you up, ease your aches & pains, strengthen the nerves, heal burns and counter infection.

External Uses: for wounds, burns, blisters, rashes, abrasions, bed-sores, bruises, boils & stings. It also makes a great massage oil for nerve pain, muscle spasm, stiffness & sprains. Its antiviral properties do pass through the skin and can be useful in cases of shingles.

St. John’s Wort should not be taken concurrently with prescription anti-depressants. Because St. John’s wort is such a potent liver cleanser, it is also contraindicated for any medications that are metabolized via the CYP-450 pathway in the liver. It will cause your body to eliminate these drugs much more quickly. Please do your due diligence to make sure that St. John’s Wort does not interact with any of your medications before taking this herb.

This information is intended for educational purposes only and is not meant to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease.

Rose Petal

(Rosa spp.)

Dubbed the “Queen of Flowers,” Rose has been a favored plant throughout human history. It has been cultivated for thousands of years, and has always been associated with love, sensuality and beauty. This materia medica applies to both wild & cultivated roses.

Family: Rosaceae

Names: Rosa centifolia, gallica, and damascena are the most common varieties used medicinally)

Parts Used: Flower & Hip

Energetics: aromatic, slightly bitter, astringent, cooling, drying

Actions: Nervine, carminative (aromatic), emmenagogue, aphrodisiac, antibacterial, antiseptic, nervine, anti-inflammatory, cardio tonic, vulnerary (heals tissue)

Properties: astringent, soothing, calming, uplifting, uplifts spirits, disperses melancholy, eases anxiety & tension, clear heat and toxins, decongestant to female reproductive system, nourishing to the heart & circulatory system.

Indications: as an aphrodisiac, rose teaches us to walk the line between fierceness & vulnerability. It softens our walls and encourages us to be open, while at the same time reinforcing personal boundaries. Rose has a profound opening effect on the heart and is a lovely salve for broken hearts as well as those who have been the victim of violence, sexual abuse or betrayal. Rose teaches self love and helps us to see the inherent beauty in ourselves & our surroundings.

As an astringent, rose petal tea can be used as a gargle for sore throats (especially when combined with rose-infused honey). It dries clear mucus discharges, relieves runny nose, brings down a fever and enhances immunity by clearing heat and toxins. The cooling, astringent petals are also helpful for inflammation in the digestive tract (IBS, infection, leaky gut).

As a cardiovascular tonic, rose can soothe a racing heart and strengthen the blood vessels, improving elasticity, healing microwounds & combating oxidative stress.

Its aromatic and dispersive properties make it useful in uterine congestion manifesting as pain, cramping and heavy periods. Irregular menstruation caused by blood stagnation. And it improves mood and may balance out mood swings associated with PMS (another sign of stagnation). Rose petal tincture is my favorite remedy for menstrual cramps.

And, its cooling, anti-inflammatory properties can be applied to headaches due to stress/high blood pressure with a pounding quality.

External Uses: compress for sore eyes, diluted rose petal-infused vinegar is amazing for sunburns, a liniment of the petals is good for sore muscles, esspecially in Pitta types, and for dislocate discs with swelling. A simple spit poultice is soothing for bug bites & scratches. A salve or paste made of powdered petals is useful for itching rashes and inflamed skin.

Avoid rose oil internally if you have gallstones. Because of its astringent nature, long-term use of rose may exacerbate constipation and dryness.

This information is intended for educational purposes only and is not meant to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease.