I’ve been watching these yellow beauties of light fill up the roadside and burst into bloom for a few weeks now. St. John’s Day is the traditional day to target harvest around… June 24th. This also happens to be right around the summer solstice. A lovely day indeed to harvest a plant that brings light into dark seasons.
The phrase “doctrine of signatures” refers to the way that a plant provides physical markings that clue us in to how it should be used. St. John’s Wort scientific name is hypericum perforatum. Hypericum translates in greek to mean “over an apparition” meaning that the plant was named for its ability to triumph over evil spirits or an attack of evil. The second part of the scientific name is perforatum, which literally refers to its perforated leaves. Classic doctrine of signatures, when you hold up a St. John’s Wort leaf to the sun the leaf allows light to come thru the darkness. Again underscoring the plants healing ways for depression.
I find it appropriate that there is currently enough St. John's Wort blooming on the roadside in dry, rocky, poor dirt and cracks in pavement to provide medicine to thousands. The plant is considered a noxious weed in many parts of PNW, an area overwhelmed with seasonal darkness. Nature has a tendency to provide abundantly what is needed, it is up to us to use it. I know that in a few months time I will see the St. John's Wort dying, unused. I am encouraged however, that mother nature is still loving us well, hopefully we can return the favor someday.
I have been trained that the anti-depressive properties of the plant exist in the fresh flowering tops primarily, and that the best way to capture this side of it’s medicine is in a tincture made with fresh tops. St. John’s Wort is also a powerful wound healing plant and has many other uses where the tincture isn’t mandatory. If I am recommending St. John’s to someone for sadness, darkness, depression, sorrow, or seasonal affective disorder, I recommend an alcohol based tincture.
Considered a holy plant, there are other interesting things about this plant, though the flower is the definition of sun captured, when you squeeze the flower in your hand it rapidly creates a blood like red liquid. It is also interesting that this plant can increase photosensitivity in humans and animals. I find it logical that consuming a plant that harnesses the power of light would make you sensitive to excess light. As if taking it reduces your need for light. An intriguing thought.
Here is a link to several tincture products: https://amzn.to/2Y3nOG9
I will make my own this year and simply consume it when I need light the most, for me this is January, February and March.
Precaution: St. John’s Wort interacts with the same receptors in the brain that mood modulating pharmaceuticals do, so please do not take with depression, anxiety, or mood stabilizing medicine without consulting a doctor.
RECIPE: To make yourself it is 1 part fresh flowering tops and 2 parts menstruum (by weight).
The menstruum for this tincture is 100% alcohol, I use vodka.
Allow tincture to macerate in a cool, dark place for at least 4 weeks, strain with a cheese cloth and place in a dark glass bottle and store out of direct sunlight.
The tincture rapidly turns red.