Known by its Latin name, “Hypericum perforatum,” St. John’s wort is a perennial herb that grows in areas all around the world. It’s easy to identify the plant through its bright yellow flowers that bloom during the summer months of the year. Hold a St. John’s wort leaf up to the sunlight, and you’ll notice it has tiny perforations in the foliage.
St. John’s wort also goes by the moniker, “goat weed.” This potent form of natural medicine is one of the few herbs recognized by the medical community for its health benefits in treating a wide variety of inflammatory diseases and mental health disorders.
When you press the yellow flowers of the plant between your fingers, you’ll notice a red stain develop on your skin. This discoloration occurs due to “hypericin,” one of the active polyphenol compounds found in the herb.
Should your doctor recommend you start using St. John’s wort, read through this brief guide on how to prepare home remedies using the herb.
1. Use the Fresh Flowers
St. John’s wort starts to flower from October through January. During this flowering season, the plant produces light-yellow flowers that have black oil glands near the edges of the petals. We recommend that you harvest your flowers before they fall from the plant and only use the fresh flowers to make your St. John’s wort remedies.
We recommend using fresh flowers because they tend to lose potency and medicinal activity during the drying process. Should you choose to crush the flowers for your remedies, then you’ll notice that the flowers turn red when you’re pressing them, giving an appearance of the flowers “bleeding.”
When extracting oil from the fresh flowers, it typically starts as a clear solution, then slowly turns reddish in color over time. It’s possible to preserve the polyphenol in the flowers using a freeze-drying method, but unless you have the equipment on hand, we think it’s best to use the fresh flowers for your remedies.