My Herbs Blog
I have been studying herbs for a long time. It will be 20 years this September. I have been fully incorporating herbs in my life almost as long. I think it was after my first son was born, 13 years ago that I really dived into integrating herbs in my life in a total and complete way. Life is dependent on plants. Do you know that at one time in history- that is how all peoples lived. Everything was obtained from the land, and made from the land. Plants have sustained us, provided for us and given life for thousands of years. Man has of course depended on animal sources for food, but it is the earth, the trees, the plants, the herbs that have made life possible. Thank you Lord!
beThis brings me to St. John's Wort- Hypericum perforatum. I of course know this plant and of this plant and have used dried St. John's Wort in preparations. However, you do not really get to know a plant until you search for it. Find it in the wild. Know it's habitat, and pick it and feel it and smell the blossoms, dry it and prepare it for medicine. I believe that an herbalist becomes an Herbalist when spending ample and concentrated time with the plants where they grow.
This year was the first year that I got to know Hypericum perforatum. This was the first year where I searched for it in the wild. I was happy to find it growing many places near my property and where we vacationed in Maine. Once you see a plant, and know it by sight, it stands out wherever you go. As we drove the 500 miles to the North coast of ME- I spotted it everywhere, as I did dozens of other plants that I have become very intimately aware of.
I think the most interesting aspect of St. John's Wort is that the oil from the petals turns red. In Desk Reference to Nature's Medicine (p. 338)... it states that St. John's Wort was named after St. John the Baptist and the herb is said to bloom on the saints birthday, June 24th and to bleed red oil from its flowers on August 29, the day that John the Baptist was beheaded. It also states that for centuries, St. John's wort was credited with the power to drive away devils. I personally think this refers to the known and tested uses of this plant as one of nature's best anti-depressants.
I am currently making St. John's wort oil from the flowers and parts of the leaves. Before I left on vacation I had dried some of the herb and began soaking it in olive oil. I did this however pretty early in the season, and I noticed my oil was not turning red as it should be. I think (according to my research)... that I picked the flowers a little too soon to really extract the red oil from the petals. It is now about 2 weeks since I first picked the flowers and I am on vacation. Every day I have been making herbal tea from the St. John's wort plant. In the morning I go outside and pick some fresh herbs for the day. I have been concentrating on taking St. John's wort by itself to really get a good feel for the plant.
When I pick this herb, I cut off about 3-4 inches total from the top of the flowers down the stem. I boil my water on the stove and when it has boiled, I put what would be about the equivalent of 2 Tablespoons of the fresh herb into the pot, remove from heat and cover with a lid. I wait 10 minutes and when I return, the tea is a beautiful red color. So, I know that the red oil is present, but I think it will keep increasing in strength as the month continues. I will need to keep experimenting with harvest time.
The tea has been quite delicious. It is hard to define a new taste. I can't really say it tastes like another flavor- for now that I have tasted it fresh from the ground, I would say it tastes like St. John's wort, but to someone who has no reference that is hard to define. It is herby and earthy- with a slight pine or citrus scent. I think that is the closest description I can come to at this time. 😊
As for the effects. I really think that this is the type of herb that needs to be consistently enjoyed to see reap the emotional or spiritual benefits. I must say though- that I have been sleeping very well since we have been on vacation and I have been drinking an infusion of St. John's wort. I do struggle with sound sleep, and I am not sure if it is a number of factors, such as the relaxing bedroom... (my home bedroom needs some more balance), the sea air, the quiet of nature, or the tea). More than likely it is all of these, and what I have learned from this trip, is that I need to create an air of vacation at home. My home should feel like I am on vacation. I want to live my life, as a healer should be one where I am filled up so I can pour out on others.
As I learn more about this intricate, beautiful plant- I will post again.
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