St. John's Wort, Hypericum Calycinum or Aaron's Beard, is an easy to grow herb, with over three hundred of varieties. It is used primarily for medicinal purposes. St. John's Wort is believed to have been named after St. John the Baptist. It originated in Europe and Asia where it grew wild in woods, fields and along roadsides. Sometimes called "herbal Prozac," St. John's Wort is mostly used to relieve depression and anxiety.
The history of using St. John's Wort also goes back thousands of years, and it has been used as a safe and effective herbal medication for at least 2400 years. The founder of medicine, Hippocrates, was known to prescribe St. John's Wortherb for relief of such common ailments as dysentery, tuberculosis, haemorrhage, jaundice, colds, and insomnia.
St. John's Wort is a hardy, partially woody perennial, an upright growing, unpleasant smelling, clumping plant. Its small, smooth, oval leaves have numerous tiny oil glands, borne in opposite pairs along the stems. The small golden yellow flowers are borne in large dense cymes in midsummer. The small, ovoid seed capsule contains round black seed. The crushed flowers ooze a red, blood-like pigment containing hypericin.
St. John's Wort is one of the most popular herbs in North America and Europe. Although it's known primarily as a herbal antidepressant for mild to moderate depression, it has a long history of use as an antiviral, an anti-inflammatory, for nerve injury and pain, and as a topical treatment to promote wound healing. Recent preliminary studies have found that St. John's Wort may also decrease alcohol intake.
St. John's Wort has been used to treat a variety of conditions. Taken internally, St. Johns Wort has a sedative and pain reducing effect, which gives it a place in the treatment of neuralgia, anxiety, tension and similar problems. It is especially regarded as an herb to use where there are menopausal changes triggering irritability and anxiety. In addition to neuralgic pain, it will ease fibrositis, sciatica and rheumatic pain.
Externally it is a valuable healing and anti-inflammatory remedy. As a lotion it will speed the healing of wounds and bruises, varicose veins and mild burns. The oil is especially useful for the healing of sunburn.
The calming properties of St. John's Wort herb have been useful in treating bedwetting, insomnia, and other nervous conditions, as well as some form of melancholy. An oil extract of the herb can be taken for stomach ache, colic, intestinal problems, and as an expectorant for the congestion in the lungs.
A herbal tea made from the flowers is good for anaemia, headache, insomnia, jaundice, chest congestion, and catarrh. A tea made from the herb has been used for uterine cramping and menstrual difficulties. The oil extract also make a good external application for burns, wounds, sores, bruises, and other skin problems.
It is believed that burning the plant in bonfires would drive away evil spirits, purify the air and promote healthy crop growth.