Column: The Happy Forager

St. John’s wort is one of the more noticeable flowers growing along the roadsides in the summer months.

Chantelle Carter

 

St. John’s wort is one of the more noticeable flowers growing along the roadsides in the summer months. It grows quite profusely, and the bright yellow blossoms are a beautiful contrast to the otherwise stark vegetational life that survive in the ditches during the hottest time of the season.

A bouquet of these flowers don my dining room table continuously while they are in bloom, as well as a jar of flowers steeping in oil on my window sill. It is hard to look at the flower of this plant and not feel cheery. It can be no coincidence that St. John’s wort has long been used for depression, stress and pain.

Science has now proven many of these claims by mapping out a large number of active compounds and their relative actions. The fresh flowers of this beautiful plant when infused in oil, produce a beautiful and powerful red oil that is anti-inflammatory and analgesic. This therapeutic oil has so many uses that you can sum it up by saying if it hurts, soothe it with St. John’s oil. It will speed the healing of wounds and bruises, varicose veins and mild burns. The oil is especially useful for the healing of sunburn, which seems to be needed more than usual this steamy summer.  St.John’s Wort also reduces inflammation and can be used to calm the pain of sciatica, arthritis, fibromyalgia, muscle aches, PMS and breast tenderness. St.John’s Wort has a good safety record over centuries of folk medicine and is very easily identifiable which makes it a perfect herbal plant to forage for.

 

 

To make therapeutic oil:

Take a big basket and lots of patience out with you on the meadow to gather St. John’s wort. Pick only the yellow part of the flower, and mainly plants which have both buds and flowers (no seeding flowers yet). This will take ages but you’ll have excellent quality oil when you’re done. Or if time is of the essence, simply snip the flowers, buds and top few leaves from each plant.

Scatter your harvest onto a large sheet of newspaper, and let it be in shade for an hour or so to give the small black beetles a chance to leave.

1. Combine 1 part by weight of the fresh

herb to 3 parts by volume of oil of your

choice ( I typically use olive oil)

2. Bruise the stems, leaves and flowers.

3. Put in a sterilized jar and cover com

pletely with the oil. If any plant matter is

above the oil, it will spoil.

4. Set in a warm window for two weeks.

5. Strain and add more fresh tops.

6. Let set for another two weeks.

7. Strain into a clean jar and cap.

 

 

Your finished oil will be the most lovely red colour and ready to use for your ailments. Extra happy foraging for these cheery little blossoms valley friends, and may you enjoy this medicinal oil as much as my family and I do.