1881 Apothecary Featured Herb: St. John’s Wort

yellow flowers in close up shot
photography of hand during sunset

The summer sun is in full force, which makes this a perfect time to talk about the positive energy packed inside the dainty yellow flowers of St. John’s Wort. Our in-house herbalist, Nikki McClane recommends this plant now and throughout the year for adding a little sunshine to your life.

When it comes to plants, their physical appearance and even where and when they grow can be great clues as to how they are used traditionally. Perhaps you’ve heard people mention this phenomenon with nutrition. The walnut, packed with brain-boosting Omega 3’s, looks a heck of a lot like a brain.

St. John’s Wort sports delicate sunny buds that appear just around the Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. As you might expect, this herb is frequently associated with a sense of cheer and used in relation to the nervous system.

Uses for St. John’s Wort

Specifically, St. John’s Wort is best known for its uses relating to mental health. Because of this, many people supplement with teas, powders, and tinctures as a tool against depression. In fact, the medical community has undergone several scientific studies to evaluate its efficacy.

Because of its influence on mood, St. John’s Wort is especially effective in working with Seasonal Affective Disorder. Other types of mood imbalances that herbalists look to St. John’s Wort in correcting include listlessness, fatigue, or a sense of hopelessness.

While St. John’s Wort works well throughout the nervous system, aiding not just the brain but also the spine, one of the ways it helps to improve the above mentioned conditions is actually its work with the liver.

Your hepatic system is responsible for filtering toxins out of the body, so a healthy liver is essential to maintaining optimal health. St. John’s Wort has been clinically proven to increase activation of liver enzymes, which allows for faster metabolization. It makes a great detoxifier, giving your body the space it needs to balance essential nutrients and hormones.

Cautions for St. John’s Wort

But this liver boost isn’t necessarily indicated for everyone. St. John’s Wort can clear other medications out of your system before they’ve had time to work, so, as with any herb, it’s essential to check if there are any contraindications with medication you already take.

Another brief warning about St. John’s Wort that you may have even seen if you’ve ever been tanning and read the fine print on the warning signs is that this herb is known to cause photosensitivity. That means for some people, St. John’s Wort may make them more likely to burn in the sun.

On the other hand, oil infused with St. John’s Wort is said to be a skin protectant. To find out what works for you and how, it’s important to take things slow, talk to an experienced herbalist, keep your doctors up to date, and pay attention to your body.

How to Use St. John’s wort

How can you find St. John’s Wort? If you live near 1881 in the Mid-Atlantic region, you can find it growing wild throughout the summer. When buying from an apothecary or herbalist, you may find it in a few forms. Many people take it in an alcohol-based tincture. When using the plant for sun protection or to aid in skin or wound care, it’s typically a topical application like an infused oil or salve. You can also take the dried herb as a tea or in powder form.

These are only a few of the possibilities for this versatile and revered plant. It has traditional uses from wound healing to respiratory function, and it has been used across cultures wherever it grows naturally. Stop into the apothecary to see where it shows up!

If you’d like to learn more about this or any other powerful herbs, head on down to the apothecary at 1881 Salt Sanctuary!

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