Published October 19, 2021 Have you ever run across St. John’s Wort in her natural habitat, with her tiny but mighty golden flowers? 🌼 She’s an herb that blooms in the summer months, soaking up all of the solar energy she can get so that we can harvest and save her for the gloomy winter when we need some extra sunshine in our nervous systems. St. John’s Wort reaches its peak blossom in June during the Summer Solstice, but the buds will still come alive in your garden or neighborhood well into the summer as this plant continues to soak up the solar energy all season long. SJW is one of our all-time favorite mood and brain boosters, nerve healers and soothers, and brings so much light to both the body and mind. Personally, I use this herb in our beloved Mood Juice formula for it’s nervous system-supporting, mood-lifting properties. While the properties and benefits of St. John’s Wort are alluring all on their own, this herb actually works best in a balanced, cohesive, and symbiotic formulation matched with other calming herbs that soothe and complement when we need a boost. As an herbalist, I often utilize the “nervine” class of herbs for coping with stress and tension in a healthy way, however my formulation becomes a bit more complex when looking to support a positive outlook and lifted mood. For this purpose, I like to synergistically combine nervines with adaptogens (herbs that help us to adapt to life’s stress while maintaining a sense of resilience) and trophorestoratives (herbs that help to balance and restore nervous system health). In Mood Juice, you’ll also find Holy Basil (a brain-focused adaptogen that helps with motivation and outlook, especially when we feel like we need sight and clarity on our path), Lemon Balm, Skullcap, Kava and Motherwort (like a big hug from mom that helps us let our guard down, especially when we’re feeling aggravated or stuck). Mood Juice is helpful for moms, pre-menstrual support, and those who need seasonal support as the days get shorter or when gloomy weather arises. And as you continue to learn about SJW below, you’ll see why! Properties of St. John’s Wort St. John’s Wort is considered to be astringent (toning to the body’s tissues), neuroprotective, trophorestorative (meaning she is a master rebuilder and helps to soothe frazzled nerves), microbiome balancer, and wound supporter. Benefits of St. John’s Wort As one of our beloved teachers, Claudia Keel, says: St. John’s Wort “appears to condense the energies of the sun” and allows us to shine that light into the psyche in order to support a healthy mood and sense of wellbeing. One of the most important mood medicines to keep on your radar, SJW is a tender friend as the days get darker and shorter. Considered both a potential ‘brain adaptogen’ and a trophorestorative tonic to the nervous system, St. John’s Wort has been studied extensively for its positive therapeutic potential. Its bright yellow flowers give us clues about its unique offerings, as does the fact that St. John’s Wort also blooms on the solstice, bringing new life and light that energizes, nourishes and reinvigorates the nervous system. In modern times, there have been hundreds of randomized controlled studies on St. John’s Wort with many supporting its positive effect on mood, especially when the whole plant is used in order to capture its full spectrum of phytochemicals and antioxidants (including Quercetin and Lutein). Further clinical research is needed to assess long term effects. While many of us are used to taking this herb internally via tincture or tea for mood and nervous system support, this herb also holds immense value topically for wound support and for balancing a healthy inflammatory response. St. John’s Wort for Topical Support Topically, St. John’s Wort is indicated in traditional herbalism for easing discomfort and promoting a healthy inflammatory response in the context of injury, wounds, nerve issues, and more. Traditionally, the flowers of this plant are infused into a homemade healing oil that can be applied topically for muscular and nerve complaints, or to ground and soothe the nervous system when one is feeling tense and stressed. Contraindications St. John’s Wort is not to be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding, or in conjunction with SSRIs, SNRIs, or MAOIs. Speak with your doctor first if you are on any medications, as liver supporting herbs of any kind may increase the metabolism of various pharmaceuticals. How to Grow + Harvest St. John’s Wort for Infused Oils, Tinctures and Teas Growing this sacred flower in the garden has been quite the rewarding experience, so I wanted to share my harvesting tips if you set out to make friends with this plant in your own yard this year for tea, tincture, and oil making. ☀️ The bright yellow flowers are ready to harvest around “St. John’s Wort Day”, June 24th – aka the week leading up to and after the summer solstice ☀️ If you’re looking to plant her symbiotically in your herb garden, she enjoys blooming among other aromatic herbs and flowers such as daisies, lemon balm and anise hyssop ☀️ Make sure she gets plenty of sunlight – this is a full sun plant, and she holds that solar energy for us when we need a pick me up later in the winter months ☀️ If you’re looking to spot her in the wild, St. John’s Wort can be found growing in sunny, open areas and depleted soils (as it restores them just like it does us) – she prefers disturbed sites such as country roads and highways ☀️ Spend time with the plant and ask permission to harvest before you forage the flowers; express gratitude for the plant medicine and speak to her as you collect each bud with intention ☀️ When harvesting, gather the flower tops and surrounding buds only, rather than taking stems, leaves or roots to encourage growth and health of the plant; the easiest way to harvest is using your hands rather than shears or pruners. Pinch off the flowers and buds at the very top of a cluster. Your hands should look like you’re taking a full pinch of salt. ☀️ Place your harvested plants in a basket or bag with a cloth to keep away from the sun so it can stay as fresh as possible before you tincture or infuse into an oil. If you’re using the flowers for tea, dry them inside in a cool, dark place; not in the sunlight! What we’ve found in the garden is that these flowers are often gone as quickly as they came — you have a short window once they bloom to forage for medicine making, so keep an eye on your plant and check back each day for new flowers and surprises! How to Make Your Own SJW Medicinal Body Oil If you just harvested or procured some beautiful St. John’s Wort flowers, join us by clicking this post to learn how to make your very own nervous-system-soothing topical body oil.