St. John’s Wort — Hypericum perforatum

St. John’s Wort is one of the most popular herbs in the West these days after the marketing it received for its use as a treatment for mild to moderate depression. While this use is valid this plant has abundant historical and current uses that make it a very versatile herbal medicine.

Hypericum perforatum is the botanical name (Latin binomial) for the medicinal plant commonly known as St. John’s Wort. If you look at the leaves under the flower in the photo above you will notice small “dots.” This “dots” are actually tiny perforations in the leaves, which makes this plant very easy to identify. Its common name comes from harvesting time in its original native habitat in Europe around the time of St. John’s Day in June. This plant has found its way into many other habitats over the years and is now considered a weedy pest in some places like the American West, where there are active movements to eliminate the plant.

St. John’s Wort has always been know to “lighten the spirits” or “make the heart gay” but its other uses such as as a wound healer, pain reliever, and antiinflammatory are generally considered by seasoned herbalists to be its greatest strength.

Hypericum can be used internally or externally both as a liniment or oil. For external application it is used very effectively for the treatment of burns, cuts, scrapes, and other trauma. Internally it is very effected in the treatment of gastrointestinal ulcers, chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, internal hemorrhoids, etc.

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