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St. John’s Wort, (Hypericum perforatum) Cut and Sifted Bulk
Clusiaceae (Saint John's Wort Family)
The genus name Hypericum derives from the Greek hyper, "above," and eikon, "picture," meaning "over an apparition," as the herb was once considered odiferous enough to cause evil spirits to depart and was hung in the entryway or over pictures in homes. The species name perforatum refers to the tiny oil glands in the leaves, which look like holes. The common name Saint John's wort refers to the herb's association with blood, as a result of the bright red dye the plant releases when crushed (thanks to its hypericin content), which is linked to John the Baptist's beheading. The herb is often collected on June 24th, the feast day of John the Baptist. Wort is an Old English word meaning "plant."
Range of Appearance
Saint John's wort is a perennial native to northern Africa, western Asia, Europe, and North America, where it thrives in dry, sunny locations. It grows to about 3 feet in height. The opposite, lanceolate leaves clasp the stems; they feature tiny, translucent oil glands that look like holes when the leaves are held up to the light. The five-petaled, hermaphroditic flowers, are golden yellow, with black dots on their margins, and appear in flat-topped clusters. Ovoid capsules follow, bearing several dark brown seeds.
Alterative, analgesic, anodyne, antibacterial, antibiotic, antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antiviral, anxiolytic, aromatic, astringent, cholagogue, digestive, diuretic, expectorant, nerve restorative, sedative, styptic, vermifuge, vulnerary
Saint John's wort has been used for over one thousand years to treat depression. It is an official herb in the pharmacopoeias of Czechoslovakia, Poland, Romania, and Russia. Saint John's wort is used to treat anorexia, anxiety, attention deficit disorder, bedwetting, boils, burns, carbuncles, chronic fatigue syndrome, colds, colic, concussion, cough, depression (mild to moderate), diarrhea, dysentery, fear, fever, flu, gastritis (chronic), gout, headache, herpes, hydrocephalus, hypothyroidism, hysteria, insomnia, irritability, jaundice, menopause symptoms, nervous habits (nail biting, hair pulling, and so on), nerve injury, neuralgia, puncture wounds, rheumatism, shingles, shock, stomachache, tuberculosis, ulcers, viral infections, and worms. Saint John's wort restores the nerves, breaks up chi stagnation, and calms and lifts the spirit. It also promotes tissue repair, deters infection, and helps relieve pain. It can help heal damaged nerves when used internally or externally. It is thought that its action results in part from its ability to block the reabsorption of serotonin and that it might also enhance the body's receptivity to light. One of its components, hypericin, increases serotonin and melatonin metabolism. Another component, hyperforin, inhibits the uptake of dopamine, serotonin, noradrenaline, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), and L-glutamate, thereby allowing these neurotransmitters to persist longer in the body, which contributes to emotional stability. Topically, Saint John's wort can be prepared as a compress to treat mastitis and skin ulcers. Oil infused from the fresh plant is a beautiful shade of red and is used to treat back pain, bruises, burns, hemorrhoids, herpes, insect bites, nerve pain, perineal tears, stomach cramps, temporomandibular joint (TMJ), swellings, sunburn, tumors, ulcers, varicose veins, and wounds. The oil or a liniment prepared from the plant can be rubbed onto the spinal cord in treatments for arthritis, electric shock, hysteria, lumbago, neuralgia, paralysis, rheumatism, and sciatica. Saint John's wort's effects are not instantaneous. Continued use is necessary, and as many as two to six weeks may be needed before the herb's effects manifest.
The young leaves and flowers are edible in small amounts. They can be eaten raw or dried and prepared as a gruel. The leaves and flowers are sometimes added to liqueurs and mead, while some bakers have found that adding a bit of Saint John's wort leaves and flowers to flour improves the quality of the bread made from it.
Saint John's wort yields green, yellow, red and pink dyes. Placing a sprig of the herb under your pillow on Saint John's Eve was once thought to bring special blessings and protection from death for the coming year. The dried herb can be used to make sleep sachets. In folkloric tradition, an unmarried woman who places a piece of the herb under her pillow will dream of her future husband.
Carotene, vitamin C, choline, flavonoids (rutin, hyperin, quercitin, quercitrin, hyperoside), pectin, hypericin, hyperforin, pseudohypericin, essential oils (carophyllene, pinene, limonene, myrcene, sesquiterpenes), sitosterol, tannin, resin
Saint John's wort should not be combined with antidepressant pharmaceuticals (for example, Celexa, Eldepryl, Marplan, Nardil, Parnate, Paxil, Prozac, or Zoloft), protease inhibitors, or organ antirejection drugs (such as cyclosporine), except under the guidance of a qualified health-care practitioner. In fact, because Saint John's wort cleanses the liver, it is best to use it with caution in conjunction with any pharmaceutical drug. Saint John's wort is not recommended during pregnancy, while nursing, or for children under the age of two. It may cause photosensitivity, especially in fair-skinned individuals. There have been rare reports of dizziness, nausea, fatigue, and dry mouth from its use. Some people may experience contact dermatitis from the plant.
Plant details were provided by iPlant by Brigitte Mars.
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