St. John's wort is also a herb known as St. John's Wort due to the flowering in the period in which San Giovanni is celebrated, that is June 24th, or still whacks, in fact it was thought that hanging in the house a flowering branch in the St. John's night had the power to ward off evil spirits.
The scientific name is Hypericum perforatum. This plant is native to Europe but is now widespread also elsewhere, reaching a maximum height of 100 centimeters. It grows spontaneously in the Mediterranean areas and prefers areas that are well exposed to the sun but temperate, such as India, Turkey and parts of Russia and North America. The places where it is best to grow are woods and open fields, but in fields dedicated to grazing it is not very popular, however, because it can provide livestock with abortions, damage the nervous system and even lead to the death of animals.
It is an evergreen herb with no hair on the leaves, the flowers are an intense yellow consisting of five petals arranged like a star with black dots, the leaves are instead of an intense green and with the edges characterized by bubbles that look like holes. Like all herbs, or almost, even hypericum has relevant medical applications and below we will see which ones.
The main extract from hypericum is an oil that is characterized by the intense red color caused by the concentration of hyperacin. For the color it is also called blood of San Giovanni in fact in the past it was believed that it was the blood lost by the Saint on the occasion of the beheading on the order of King Salome.
St. John's wort oil is considered a natural antidepressant although bland, it also cures insomnia and research is bringing surprising new features also in the treatment of Parkinson's disease.
Hypericum oil is rich in flavonoids, tannins, hyperacin, chlorogenic and caffeic acid and it is these active ingredients that make it an irreplaceable natural remedy for some problems.
HOW TO EXTRACT HYPERICUM OIL
Hypericum oil can be bought in herbal medicine already ready, but for those wishing to try their hand at extraction, here's how. The process is actually very easy, inexpensive and even fun. First of all it is necessary to collect the flowers, better to choose places far from sources of pollution, in fact the hypericum grows also in the city near the roads, but the car exhausts make the flowers unsuitable to be used.
The flowers, once collected, must be washed and dried, preferably in the sun. Once this is done, they should be marinated in oil, preferably sweet almonds, in fact in this case the powers of these two ingredients are combined and the benefits are increased. In the alternative can also be used sunflower oil or olive oil.
Put them in a glass jar and cover the flowers with the chosen oil, then place the tightly sealed jar in the sun and stir it from time to time. The oil will begin to take on a red color. After three weeks, St. John's wort oil is ready, just filter it well with a sieve or tights, or both, and the game is done. Prepared with sweet almond oil it is easier to absorb and the emollient and moisturizing power on the skin is really high, just remember that sweet almond oil is the best natural product against stretch marks.
APPLICATIONS OF HYPERICUM OIL
Hypericum oil is a powerful antiseptic and anti-inflammatory and therefore suitable for decongesting and disinfecting burns of any nature and sunburn. Also useful for soothing baby's diaper redness and the sting of insect bites. Used on wounds it helps to heal first. The high presence of tannins also makes the hypericum particularly suitable for the treatment of oily, mixed or with acne problems as they have a high astringent power. Still in the cosmetic field, it is also used to treat couperose.
As far as the antidepressant function is concerned, the dry extract is usually used because the oil, in addition to not having a particularly pleasant taste, has more limited effects on these problems, although it is still useful, but for this use a doctor's advice is advisable because interactions with other drugs can be significant. The use in cosmetics and topical dressings is therefore much safer.
It seems that St. John's wort oil may have influence on contraceptives in particular that may limit the effect of the pill and thus cause unwanted pregnancies, but this effect is still not sufficiently demonstrated. It must be avoided during pregnancy because hypericum goes to interact with hormone levels and therefore could cause abortions. Not recommended for oral use even in children under 18 years.
Although application at epidermal level may soothe redness from sun exposure, excessive use could on the contrary photosensitize the skin so it is advisable to always evaluate the use well and not to exceed.