History Of Traditional Or Folk Use Of St. John’s Wort And Its Oil
St. John’s Wort or Hypericum perforatum is backed by traditional use of 2400 years in Greek by Dioscorides, Hippocrates and other eminent ancient authorities. Find the views of folk medicine or traditional medicine personalities over a span of history.
Along with historical aspects, know about how its oil is processed traditionally and what it is used for.
History Of Folk Use Or Traditional Use:
St. John’s Wort has a great history of more than 2400 years. Dioscorides (The eminent physician of Greece), Pliny (Ancient Rome) and Hippocrates mentioned the use of this botanical for several disorders. Paracelcus (c1525) recommended it for hallucinations and ‘dragons’, as well as for healing wounds.
A survey among physicians conducted in 1938 by a German physician, Dr. Gerhard Madaus, found that St. John’s wort preparations were being utilized for nerve conditions, and disorders induced by excessive intellectual efforts.
According to Dr. Dennis Awang, alcoholic tinctures and vegetable oil extracts of the flowers are official remedies in the pharmacopeias of eastern European countries such as the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Romania, Russia. Dr. Awang also writes that two preparations are widely prescribed in Russia as antibacterials, which are claimed to be more effective against Staphylococcus aureus than sulfanilamide (sulfa drugs).
Native Americans used this herb traditionally as abortifacient (internally used for causing abortion) and externally as antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and astringent. Historically st. john’s wort have also been used to produce red and yellow dye.
Priest & Priest mentions that it is a “sedative nervine for muscular twitching and choreiform movements especially indicated for nerve injuries to the extremities and teeth and gums. It promotes elimination of catabolic waste products.” They give the following specific indications: Painful injuries to sacral spine and coccyx, traumatic shock, hemorrhoids with pain & bleeding, facial neuralgia after dental extractions and toothache, neurasthenia, chorea, depression.
Ellingwood considered it specific for “muscular bruises, deep soreness in painful parts and a sensation of throbbing in the body without fever, burning pain, or deep soreness of the spine upon pressure, spinal irritation, circumscribed areas of intense soreness over the spinal cord or ganglia. He mentioned it for shock or injury to the spine, lacerated or punctured wounds in any location, accompanied with great pain. In addition he recommends it for the following pathologies: tumors, caked breasts, enlarged glands, ecchymosis, bruises, swellings.
St. John’s Wort In Australia:
St. John’s Wort has been introduced to parts of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. The original introduction has been traced to the Ovens Valley in Victoria during a gold boom in the 1880s, when a German woman imported seed of the plant and established it for medicinal purposes.It soon overran her garden and spread to the nearby racecourse, from where it attracted the local name of “racecourse weed”. Australia expects to provide up to 20 per cent of the 7000 tonnes of SJW used worldwide each year.
St. John’s Wort Oil:
St. John’s wort oil is used for bruises and as anti-inflammatory. It is oftenGerman government used by herbalists to help speed healing of wounds and sores. St. John’s wort oil has antiphlogistic qualities (helping to reduce inflammation). Externally it is applied to sprains, burns, skin irritations, or any laceration accompanied by severed nerve tissue.
The German Government allows such external St. John’s wort preparations to be labeled for the treatment or after treatment of sharp or abrasive wounds, myalgias (muscular pain) as well as first degree burns.
This traditional herbal treatment, once known to pharmacists as “red oil” or “Hypericum liniment,” was available in pharmacies in the early twentieth century. The practice of soaking the flowers in olive oil, infusing the oil in the sun, then using the oil internally as a diuretic and external application for wounds dates at least to the time of the first edition of Gerarde’s Herball (1597).
How To Prepare St. John’s Wort Oil?
The herb is harvested till flowering period. Take about one cupful of the fresh flowers, adding a sufficient quantity of olive oil sufficient to cover the flowers. The fresh herb should be finely cut or crushed, covered with the oil, then placed in the sun or warm area for two to three weeks until the herb imparts its qualities to the oil. Shaking it once a day helps enhance this simple extraction process. Once two or three weeks time has passed, the herb should be pressed, strained from the oil, then stored in a dark, closed container in a cool place.
The yellow flowers will turn the oil a deep blood-red color. In this process, we extract the pigment hypericin. This method yields the mildest form and purest form of st. john’s wort oil. Neither volatile elements are dissipated nor heat sensitive elements are denatured. It is best to use the fresh flowers, as hypericin may degrade upon drying. This oil can be stored for up to a year in a cool dark place.
Benefits Of St. John’s Wort Oil:
- Wound healing property due to of its astringent and antibacterial activity and protein precipitating action due to flavonoids and tanins.
- Useful for speeding the healing in burns.
- Taking the tincture of st. john’s wort along with topical application of oil over the wound increases the epethelialization of wounds.
- It could be used in varicose veins and hemorrhoids as local application.