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St. John's Wort, Hypericum perforatum

Saint John’s Wort, Hypericum perforatum         Flower of Light



A shrubby plant of pale green leaves and clusters of bright yellow flowers with elongated petals. The leaves have transparent pockets that look like perforations when held to the light.  Hence its botanical name Hypericumperforatum.’ The plant has many small round black seeds that are stored within a three-celled capsule.


St. John’s Wort originated in Europe, and today it is found in the Americas, Russia, Asia, China and the Middle East.

It blooms during the summer months in uncultivated wooded and roadside areas and meadows. It is said that it symbolizes the sun which casts out evil.


Hypericum from Greek, Huper eikon, meaning “over an apparition” from the belief that it has the power to protect against evil spirits. It is said that a whiff of the aroma of St. John’s wort will send evil spirits in flight.

It is named after St. John the Baptist, as it is in full bloom by the saint’s feast day. There is an ancient superstition that on St John’s day, the 24th of June, the dew which fell on the plant the evening before was efficacious in preserving the eyes from all harm throughout the coming year. So the plant was collected and dipped in oil and made into a balm for every wound.

Family: Guttiferae

Aroma: softly sweet, herbaceous, earthy, warm

Parts used:  aerial parts

Historical use:

It was used as folk medicine for the wounded, especially by the Knights of St. John during The Crusades. During Medieval times, St. John's Wort was used to drive out the "inner devil" in people. Sniffing the juice of St. John’s wort was used to drive out the evil spirits in people suffering mental illness, melancholy and epilepsy.

The Swiss alchemist and Doctor Paracelsus, recommended St. John's Wort to be used against hallucinations.

On Midsummer’s Eve, the summer solstice, sprigs of St. John’s wort were hung on church and house doors to protect from the negative influences of thunder, lightning, fire and witches.

Today St John’s Wort is a common herbal remedy in European countries as an antidepressant. It is also used topically in salves and tinctures to speed the healing of burns, bruises and scrapes, as it stimulates circulation to assist repair.

Forms of St. John’s Wort herbal preparations:  

Tea, liquid extract, capsules, infused oil used in topical preparations such as salves and creams.

The hydrosol can be used for a compress for dressing wounds. It is also beneficial for skin care as a mist in a facial toner for irritated skin such as rosacea or acne.

Garden of Eve Products containing St. John’s Wort


Calm Facial Toner -                                     Garden Relief Comfort Cream  - 

Rosacea and Acne Rosacea                          Aches and stiffness


Beneficial uses of herbal preparations and hydrosol:

Taken as a Tea it is a nervous system remedy for tension, anxiety, depression, sleeplessness. It is relaxing and lifts the spirit. It is beneficial for seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. The tea is also soothing to digestion.

It is effective for nerve pain and trauma to the nervous system from injury or surgery. It helps to both ease nerve pain and speed recovery.

St John’s Wort is beneficial for emotional problems during menopause and PMS, as well as it helps to regulate menstrual cycles.

It also helps the thyroid gland to produce adequate hormones and thus can lessen hypothyroidism symptoms.

Its diuretic effect reduces fluid retention hastening elimination of toxins.         

It relieves incontinence in adults and children and has a tonic effect on the urinary system.

St. John’s wort helps to heal wounds such as burns, cuts, incisions, sores and ulcers, as well as sprains, hemorrhoids and varicose veins.

It has shown significant benefit for patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), when both ingested and applied topically, particularly in early stages.

It is a rich source of antioxidants an anti-inflammatory compounds which can ease pain of arthritis. gout, joint discomfort and muscle aches.

It relieves stiffness, and aches from fibromyalgia to overexertion.

It can reduce inflammation of the cardiovascular system and reduces blood pressure.

It can also help to curb addictive tendencies.

Skin care

St. John’s Wort is healing and regenerative to the skin. It softens, tones and clarifies the complexion. It diminishes scars especially when used in combination with Helichrysum.  It brings balance and comfort to the skin. Thus it is a good, soothing ingredient for Rosacea and Acne facial toners, to mist throughout the day, when feeling irritated by heat, weather or stress. And it is beneficial for teenage and adult oily skin.

Homeopathic remedy:

It is referred to as the Arnica for the nervous system. It is used to treat trauma or injury to nerves.


Photosensitivity may be experienced from the oil, but not the hydrosol.

It is reported that side effects may be experienced by 3% of people using St John’s Wort and are milder than complications caused by conventional medicines used for treating depression.

Possible side effects of Tea: It is considered to be not ‘ideal’ for pregnancy or breast feeding.

Drug interactions: Caution with antidepressant drugs. Cease use for two weeks prior to surgery, as could interfere with anesthesia.

St. John’s Wort may reduce the effectiveness of some medicines.


Author, Eve Stahl, is a Health Consultant, Herbalist and Skin Care expert. She specializes in using nature's plants to enhance the health of people and to protect the health of our planet. To achieve this purpose she has created Garden of Eve Skin Care products for sensitive skin and all skin types. You can visit her company at: www.gardenofeve.com Prospective Affiliates visit: www.gardenofeveskincare.com/affiliate-application.  

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