In our window this month are four large glass jars filled with liquid, which on close inspection are tinged ruby red; we are infusing Hypericum perforatum in oil, a powerful therapeutic that will be used in many of our products. The skill of the Apothecary is not just to know which plant is therapeutic and which part yields the healing properties but when is the moment to collect it. Hypericum produces Hypericin a powerful anti-viral and anti-depressant, Hyperforin an excellent anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial. The Hypericin gives the red colour to the oil but only when collected at the right time.
In summer, in rural Sussex we pick the leaves, stems and the bright yellow flowers, which give the plant its name (in Greek mythology Hyperion was the god of the sun) then dry them in bunches, hung from rafters in the barn.
The curative properties of this medicinal plant were discover by the ancient Greeks and Romans who used it for depression, nervous tension, skin wounds, and sciatica, complaints that herbalists still treat with it to this day. The early Christians, mindful of its healing powers, renamed it St John’s Wort, after John the Baptist.
Traditionally, on All Hallows Eve, it was St.John's Wort, and not garlic, that the superstitious used to protect against evil spirits, as reflected in this piece of Medieval text:
“St. John’s wort doth charm all witches away,
If gathered at midnight on the saint’s holy day.
Any devils and witches have no power to harm,
Those that gather the plant for a charm.
Rub the lintels and post with that red juicy flower,
No thunder nor tempest will then have the power.
To hurt or hinder your houses: and bind,
Round your neck a charm of similar kind.”
A tea, or infusion, can be used for anxiety, insomnia, irritability or emotional upsets, especially if associated with menopause or premenstrual syndrome. Here you'll find a recipe for tea, as well as other useful home remedies.
At A.S APOTHECARY hypericum is a bit of a wonder botanical. We use it in our Bite and Sting First Aid Kit to promote skin healing and reduce the emotional nervousness following injury and upset. We harness the properties of Hypericum oil in our Intense Repair Facial Serum and Enriching Body Oil to heal and protect damaged skin, calm and soothe irritation and rejuvenate.