How to Harvest St. John’s Wort for Medicinal Tinctures
ReadyNutriton Gals, this article is primarily for you, although Guys may be able to take a good amount from it as well. Some of this information is specifically tailored toward women; however, parts of it are useful to consider for men and other family members, such as children and the elderly. St. John’s Wort is an herb that many of you are familiar with and that I have written about in the past. I’m focusing on it here, as it is really the season of the harvest for it and you should put it to good use.
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The Powerful Medicinal Effects of St. John’s Wort
St. John’s is in bloom, now, and vigorously. The dried, above-ground parts are the ones that are used. The flowers and fresh buds are the best parts for medicinal use. It is a perennial plant and grows throughout most of the U.S. Keep in mind that in some states, such as Montana, it is considered a “noxious weed,” and there is a monetary fine if you grow it/cultivate it even on your own property.
St. John’s is a wound-healer with antimicrobial effects, the latter against organisms such as Staphylococcus aureus. St. John’s is also one of the herbs that are highly effective in combatting hemorrhagic flu viruses, such as Bird Flu (Avian Flu) and Ebola virus. It relieves a host of different symptoms and problems that women may find useful. It also aids in dulling nerve pain and pain caused by arthritis.
Depression and anxiety, so common during menopause have been found to be reduced with the use of St. John’s Wort. It also reduces the symptoms found with PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome) in a study performed with the administration of just one 300 mg (milligram) tablet per day with standardized 900 mcg (micrograms) of Hypericum, the chemical lending its name to the scientific name for St. John’s Wort, or Hypericum perforatum. The herb has anti-inflammatory effects as well as being useful as a sleep aid.
When used topically, as in an essential oil, it assists in minimizing muscular pain and swelling, helps to heal minor burns, bruising and is great in treating wounds that have punctures in the skin.
How to Make a Tincture of St. John’s Wort
I have long since recommended it in your “kit” as an antimicrobial and an anti-influenza aid. The best thing to do is tincture it. Harvest St. John’s Wort when flowers are first opening. This is when they are at the medicinal prime. Keep in mind that it is best to cut off any old blooms when making a tincture because of alkaloids in the spent blooms.
Use a solution of at least 52% ethyl alcohol. Grain alcohol is the best for this.
St. John’s Wort Tincture
- After removing the flower heads and buds (use latex gloves, or your hands and fingertips will be dyed crimson), chop them up finely and place them in a jar. Cut plant from the top of the plant to the midsection and fill your water-alcohol solution up to cover the chopped-up flowers. Use 1 part herb to 2 parts menstruum (alcohol).
- Shake this vigorously 100 times, two times per day, and store it in a dark place. Do this for two weeks.
- When the time has elapsed, strain out the liquid from your chopped-up plants: it will yield a beautiful tincture that is blood-crimson in color.
- Store in a brown bottle and label it.
You will have to determine the concentration from the strength of the mixture, and the volume you accrue. Generally, your mixture will result in about a 250-350 mg/ml dosage of St. John’s for your tincture.
To use St. John’s Wort internally, add 1 dropper full of tincture with 4 ounces of water for up to three times a day.
You can also make an essential oil with St. John’s Wort. Simply add fresh cut St. John’s Wort to a paper bag and allow to wilt for 24 hours. Then, chop the herb as discussed above and add to a jar filled with 2 ounces of olive oil. Submerge the herb into the oil using a spoon. Allow mixture to sit for two weeks and strain plant material oil of oil. Note: Do not squeeze out the oils as this could add moisture to the essential and could diminish the shelf life of the oil.
Now is the time of the year that it is heavily in flower, and ripe to harvest. You can also hang it in bunches and dry it out, but tincturing is the most effective method. Remember to consult with your happy, friendly, family physician prior to using any information in this article, or the one I penned previously. Happy gathering, and enjoy the summer sun and a harvest of St. John’s in the great outdoors! JJ out!
Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). Mr. Johnson was a Special Forces Medic, EMT and ACLS-certified, with comprehensive training in wilderness survival, rescue, and patient-extraction. He is a Certified Master Herbalist and a graduate of the Global College of Natural Medicine of Santa Ana, CA. A graduate of the U.S. Army’s survival course of SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), Mr. Johnson also successfully completed the Montana Master Food Preserver Course for home-canning, smoking, and dehydrating foods.
Mr. Johnson dries and tinctures a wide variety of medicinal herbs taken by wild crafting and cultivation, in addition to preserving and canning his own food. An expert in land navigation, survival, mountaineering, and parachuting as trained by the United States Army, Mr. Johnson is an ardent advocate for preparedness, self-sufficiency, and long-term disaster sustainability for families. He and his wife survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Cross-trained as a Special Forces Engineer, he is an expert in supply, logistics, transport, and long-term storage of perishable materials, having incorporated many of these techniques plus some unique innovations in his own homestead.
Mr. Johnson brings practical, tested experience firmly rooted in formal education to his writings and to our team. He and his wife live in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with their three cats.
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