St. John's WortBotanical Name: Hypericum perforatum (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Hypericaceae Parts Used: Herb tops, flowers.
Habitat: Britain and throughout Europe and Asia.
Description: A herbaceous perennial growing freely wild to a height of 1 to 3 feet in uncultivated ground, woods, hedges, roadsides, and meadows; short, decumbent, barren shoots and erect stems branching in upper part, glabrous; leaves pale green, sessile, oblong, with pellucid dots or oil glands which may be seen on holding leaf to light. Flowers bright cheery yellow in terminal corymb. Calyx and corolla marked with black dots and lines; sepals and petals five in number; ovary pear-shaped with three long styles. Stamens in three bundles joined by their bases only. Blooms June to August, followed by numerous small round blackish seeds which have a resinous smell and are contained in a three-celled capsule; odour peculiar, terebenthic; taste bitter, astringent and balsamic.
There are many ancient superstitions regarding this herb. Its name Hyperieum is derived from the Greek and means 'over an apparition,' a reference to the belief that the herb was so obnoxious to evil spirits that a whiff of it would cause them to fly.
Medicinal Action and Uses: Aromatic, astringent, resolvent, expectorant and nervine. Used in all pulmonary complaints, bladder troubles, in suppression of urine, dysentery, worms, diarrhoea, hysteria and nervous depression, haemoptysis and other haemorrhages and jaundice. For children troubled with incontinence of urine at night an infusion or tea given before retiring will be found effectual; it is also useful in pulmonary consumption, chronic catarrh of the lungs, bowels or urinary passages. Externally for fomentations to dispel hard tumours, caked breasts, ecchymosis, etc.
Preparations and Dosages: 1 OZ. of the herb should be infused in a pint of water and 1 to 2 tablespoonsful taken as a dose. Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm.
The oil of St. John's Wort is made from the flowers infused in olive oil.