The ever sought-after, golden beauty that is Hypericum perforatum. She lines the rocky edges and steep valley's all along the foothills up into the Sierra's of Northern CA. Originally from Europe, Hypericum dwells in areas with ample sun exposure, and tends to choose arid climates and rocky soils. Commonly referred to as Saint John's Wort, she reaches peak bloom right around Saint John's Day! This time also happens to be during Summer Solstice.
Saint John's Wort was used historically as a holy plant, in ceremony's of worship and to cast away evil entities. From an aerial view, the plant structure resembles crosses, and has been interrupted to be symbolic of the crucifix. Whether it has influence over evil spirits or not, there is an undoubtable illuminated quality to her. There are some thirteen different species of Hypericum, but the one revered for its healing power contains very small holes in the leaves. If you hold a leaf up to the sun and see the "perforations" or pin-prick holes, you know you've got the medicinal species Hypericum perforatum. These holes act as little nets, catching photons from the sunlight, and storing healing solar radiance that can be taken into the body through tea, tincture or oil. In addition, a "law of signatures" can be seen in the striking golden bursts of flowers that form clusters at the crown of the plant, indicating its solar affinity. Another "law of signatures" comes into play when the deep red color comes out in all its medicinal preparations. This color alludes to its ability to purify the blood, heal wounds and work wonders on female reproductive ailments. An example, "A study of the effects of Hypericum perforatum on cesarean section wound healing and scarring was performed on a group of women in Iran. 144 participants were divided into 3 groups. One group received an ointment made from Hypericum, a second group received a placebo ointment, and a third group received no treatment... The patients receiving the Hypericum preparation had significantly improved wound healing at day ten, and less scarring at day forty, compared to the other groups. There was also less pain and itching. There was no difference on any measurement between the placebo group and the group receiving no treatment. (Samadi et al.)" (Bergner). Hypericum perforatum also has a vital and historical role in midwifery medicine, as a postpartum remedy. Administered as a sitz bath, it works to astringe and repair the grand opening of tissues back together. This piece of aftercare is critically important as it combats one of the main causes of maternal death before antibiotics, infection. For this reason I think it fitting to call her "Yoni Wort". Yoni being a Sanskrit word meaning "womb" or "origin of the universe" and Wort meaning "little plant friend" or "little helper".
The red pigment found in Hypericum extractions is created by the presence of an alkaloid called hypericin, known for properties including immune-stimulation, wound healing, blood purification and mild MAO inhibition. Though this plant has a reputation for being a depression remedy, in practice it really hasn't been a hugely effective as a blanketed anti-depressant. A workable application for uplifting mood however, can be traced back to its high photon content. For conditions like SAD (seasonal affective disorder) or winter blues, Saint John's Wort tea or tincture can be a wonderful treatment for bringing some sunny feelings to a dreary grey day. Humorally, Hypericum is cool, dry, astringent and slightly bitter. From this knowledge we can deduce that it has liver-tonifying qualities. A cup of Hypericum tea taken while soaking in a temped bath before bed, is a miraculous remedy for flushing backed up stress hormone, cortisol, from the liver. This can clear up secondary stress symptoms such as insomnia, acne, anxiety and beyond! It can also be taken as tea or tincture for a week or two leading up to menstruation. This regimen works to clear a backed up hormone load, and allow the flood of sex hormones associated with moontime to be metabolized and cleared from the body. A liver that is stressed and backed up with sex hormones, is the exact cause of the classic "PMS" symptoms, such as tender breasts, break outs, rapidly shifting mood and uterine discomfort.
Another acclaimed use for this plant is as an "anti-viral". There are a few herbs that ARE truly antiviral, meaning they prevent viral replication, and Hypericum is not one of them. That being said, Hypericum DOES work deeply on the central and peripheral nervous systems. It is greatly relaxing to the mind and body, and as mentioned above, significantly reduces the physical implications of stress on the body. So, when someone is experiencing a Herpes outbreak (cold sore), triggered by stress, Hypericum can come to the rescue taken internally and applied topically, to resolve or prevent the outbreak all together. It also repairs myelin sheath tissue, which is tissue that coats all the nerves in the body including the spinal column and brain. When the myelin sheath is damaged, electrical signals passing through the nervous system begin to move slower or in chaotic patterns. This can be the cause of shooting nerve pain, numbness etc. A liniment, poultice, salve or localized bath of Saint John's Wort is a wonderful remedy for nerve damage or bruising. Think a finger crushed in the car door, bruising from blunt force trauma or sciatica pain. Thanks to the profound soothing action Hypericum has on the nervous system, it makes an incredible body oil. An olive oil extraction of fresh Hypericum, warmed and infused by the Sun's energy, is my all time favorite therapy to treat myself with. The color comes out to be a gorgeous deep crimson, and the aroma is that of a midsummer night's dream! Massaging the oil into your skin, allows a protective layer of healing to penetrate deep into the nervous system, bringing an overall sense of peace and pleasure. It can be a wonderful strategy before embarking on a stressful endeavor, or to wind down after a long day of work. It is indeed a luxurious self-care ritual. The oil can also be used on aches, pains, injuries or added sparingly to a warm bath. Find my hand-crafted, wild-harvested, made with love, sun-infused SJW oil by reaching out via phone or email. Other applications for Hypericum include coughs, colds, urinary disorders, hemorrhoids, wounds, bruises, swellings and ulcers (Ward).
Personally, I have been basking in the power and warmth of this plant spirit lately. It is one of my most beloved allies, and the first medicinal herb that I ever worked with. I think of Yoni wort as the resilience I aim to embody, just as she chooses to radiate ethereal love and light in the the dry, exposed environments that seem bare until she springs from the Earth and BLOOMS.