Plant Ally: Common St. Joan's (Hypericum perforatum)
Parts used: flowering tops
June - August
Common St.Joan's Wort (many call her St.John's), has appeared just in time for Summer Solstice! Hypericum perforatum is a perennial plant with five-petaled yellow flowers that can be found in many temperate areas of the world. I usually find St.Joan blooming in abandoned lots, on trail edges, in meadows and near railroad tracks; look in places where there is disturbed soil and full sun. An an oil made from St.J's is great applied topically to heal a sunburn, and some even use it as an actual sunscreen with good results.
Apart from bringing sunshine back to your brain in the middle of winter (aiding depression*), did you know that a dropper full or two of the tincture taken internally will diminish muscle - and especially nerve - pain? Both tincture and oil are great for sciatica and any physical soreness, and, because it works on the nerve endings, to thwart a herpes outbreak. To identify Hypericum perforatum, look for a flowering yellow plant between approximately 1-3ft tall with leaves that are opposite each other, oblong, and about the length of your thumb nail. To be sure you've found Common St. Joan's Wort and not another member in the Hypericum family, take a single leaf off the plant and hold it up to the sun. You will clearly see tiny translucent dots over the entire leaf. While there are many species of Hypericum (genus name), this species, perforatum, is the only one with these perforations, thus the Latin name!
To make an oil of St.Joan's:
Harvest the flowering tops of Hypericum perforatum by cutting the top 1/3 of the stems /leaves/flowers with scissors. The more open flowers the better. Be sure it has not rained for at least 48 hrs. prior to your harvest as the plant material cannot be wet at all.
Find an appropriate size jar for the amount of plant material you've gathered.
Fill your very dry and clean glass bottle full to the top with the fresh flowering tops.
Pour your oil of choice (olive, almond, etc.) over the St.J's, stirring with a chopstick to be sure it gets in the nooks and crannies. Fill to the top then put a lid on the jar and label with name and date.
Keep your jar out of direct sun and heat, somewhere like a cabinet or shelf, for six weeks or longer.
*This article is not meant as medical advice. Please consult your doctor before taking any herb internally.