St.John’s Wort at Max Patch

While Jessica is in India this month, I was given the very important job of harvesting enough St.John’s wort for our patients over the next year. It is known for being prime for picking in these parts right after the solstice. So I traveled up to Max Patch with my dogs on Saturday, June 25th. If you pull into the parking lot and walk backwards on the loop, you are walking among huge patches of St.John’s Wort within three minutes of leaving your car.

Plenty of St. John's Wort

The small yellow flowers are easy to identify because when crushed they stain your hands a deep red pigment. I had red hands for a week after gathering four shopping bags of flowering tops, and then snipping them up with scissors at home. I filled several jars with the fresh plant material, added a brandy/grain alcohol solutions, and the tinctures should be ready the last week of August. Amethyst is the obvious mineral match to this herb because of its lightness and happy spirit, so each jar includes rough amethyst crystals.

St.John’s Wort is the most widely known herbal anti-depressant. Allopathic doctors in some countries prescribe it before anything else for depression. It does lift one’s spirits, and some people swear by it for seasonal affective disorder. I recommend putting it to the test for yourself before trying other drugs.

St.J’s is very safe overall. We just want to be careful with it when considering prescribing it for women on birth control pills, as it has been show to reduce the efficacy of the pill. It is also contraindicated for pregnant women. We also want to be aware of prescribing it for people who are already on anti-depressants. Consult a professional herbalist before using it to wean off of your current medication.

This happy little yellow guy also reduces muscle soreness, and Jessica and I always have a bottle between us on our desk to use on our sore muscle days after hard work-outs at the gym. Taking a few droppers full on your sorest days can really quicken your recovery.

And recently, I saw a patient who was having painful and irritating herpes outbreaks, and St.John’s wort was the go-to, as it reduces nerve pain. So it is also useful for painful hemorrhoids and shingles.

Please call us for an herbal consultation if you would like to try using St.John’s Wort. There are many other uses including treating ulcers, insomnia, and night terrors. My teacher used to say that local herbs are 1000 times stronger than herbs shipped in from other places. That’s why we stock our apothecary with as much fresh WNC medicine as we can.

-Sarah Thomas, LAc

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