Monday, July 13, 2009

Herbal Medicine Chest: St. John's Wort Tincture

Its the right time of year for harvesting St. John's Wort to make herbal medicine. We harvest St. John's Wort from the mountains around the farm to add to Joybilee Farm Peppermint Foot Balm and Joybilee Farm Hemp Hand Balm and Hemp Seed Oil Lip Balm. St. John's Wort is healing to the skin, relieves pain, and heals nerve damage.

We also make a St. John's Wort tincture for our own herbal medicine cabinet. As a tincture St. John's Wort is used to treat mild to moderate depression, relieve pain, especially joint, nerve and back pain, relax and aid in sleep. It is also an immune booster. It relieves the pain of broken bones and strained muscles better than codeine medications, without the side effects.

To make St. Johns Wort tincture you harvest the flowers from St. Johns Wort Plants. Around here they bloom about the second week in July. Only the flowers are used not the leaves. Its best to harvest them in the morning, as the heat of the sun diminishes the potency.

Fill clean and sterilized mason jars with blossoms. Pack the blossoms into the jars until you cant get any more in. Add 40% alcohol Vodka to the jars (never use rubbing alcohol for herbal medicine). Use a knife to get rid of any air that is trapped under the blossoms. Keep adding grain alcohol until you can't get any more into the jar. Then cap it. Put it in a sunny window to cure for 2 weeks.

The liquid will turn ruby red. That's the medicine leaching out of the blossoms.

After two weeks strain off the liquid and bottle in glass bottles. I use the vodka bottles for this. I put the bottles in brown paper bags to exclude light and keep them in a cold, dry place (our cold storage room) until they are needed.

Dose is 5 ml tincture in 120 ml cold water -- taken once a day at bedtime for insomnia or depression or once every 4 hours for pain. This will make you drowsy so don't drive or operate machinery when you are taking St. Johns Wort during the day.

For St. Johns Wort Oil the same procedure is followed, except add Cold Pressed olive oil instead of the alcohol. The oil will be ruby red in colour when it is placed on a sunny window sill for two weeks. Strain off the oil and bottle in mason jars. Do not heat the jars. Store away from heat and light until ready to use.

To learn more about harvesting herbs and making herbal medicine consider taking a workshop at Joybilee Farm.

This year we had an abundant harvest of St. Johns Wort. There was enough left over to make a natural dye bath. More about that in another post...


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  2. I have read to keep the jar in a dark spot.. and you say to keep it in a sunny spot. Why the difference?