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DIY: St. John's wort oil & Happy Solstice!

Jody Berry and Daughter, Ginger Berry.

I fell in love with June this year like never before. I was picking strawberries and taking in their dusty fragrance, fingers sticky with juice while listening to birds and smelling rose scented breezes.  The day was the first day that felt like summer all year.  It got to 80 degrees and the afternoon winds had carried away any prior feeling of humidity.  The sky was so blue and totally clear.  The light lingered (as did we) and it felt so luxurious to take it all in.  Solstice is upon us.  It is time for a bonfire and to give thanks as we begin to harvest the fruits & flowers of the summer season.

St. John’s Wort

Summer Solstice is also the time of the feast of St. John-celebrated June 23rd & 24th-around the time that St. John’s wort flowers are blooming and traditionally harvested.

This little yellow flower is listed as a noxious weed in many states and other countries. You can find St. John’s Wort  (Hypericum perforatum) appearing in soils that are disturbed-like clear cuts, roadsides, and agri-business intensive fields.

Internally, St. John’s wort is world renowned for its ability to treat major depression in adults and children.  Ingestion is usually via tincture or dried plant capsules or tablets.  It can be slow to work for some folks, but very effective.

Externally, we incorporate St. John’s wort in many of our product formulations.  It is the main botanical ingredient in our Lord! My hands are so dry! lotion.  It helps heal cracked, dry and painful skin.  We use it in our gaia goo healing salve for it’s anti-microbial properties, in our sore muscle salvation for it’s affinity for the nervous system and relieving sciatica.  We also use it in our stretch salve and growing belly balm for it’s ability to change cell structure and make scars appear less red and smooth them out.

St. John's Oil  

Making St. John’s wort oil is pure magic.  It truly feels like the “witchy” part of our work.  After infusing fresh plant material in oil in the hot summer sun the oil changes to a deep ruby red color due to the hypericin in the fresh flower petals.  If you crush a fresh flower in your hand it will stain your hand a dark redish-black.  This is St. J’s medicine being released.  Smell the citrusy scent also released.  Mmmm.

DIY St. John’s wort oil

Harvest St. John’s wort flowers and aerial plant parts when the plants are completely dry.  Early morning is the best time for harvesting, but making sure the flowers are dry is more important.

Put flowers & plant parts out in a shallow basket or window screen to let them wilt for a few hours or overnight in a cool, dark place away from direct light.

Chop your plant material up with a pair of clippers.  You can also crush your flowers with a rolling pin before chopping them to get more of the hypericin to release and a more ruby red oil.

Fill a jar fairly tight with your plants and pour olive oil into the jar.  Use a chop stick or stick to release any air bubbles.

Make sure all plant material is covered in oil and put a lid tightly on your jar and place in the sunshine or in a sunny windowsill.  Carefully open the lid to your jar every day and wipe off any condensation that you find on the inside of the lid.  Top off the jar with oil to keep plant material under the surface.

After infusing your oil for 2 weeks you can decant it by pouring the contents out into a strainer lined with cheesecloth or an old thin towel.

Pour your gorgeous sanguine oil into dark glass, label and store in a cool place for 6 months to a year.  You can use this oil full strength or dilute in a carrier oil.  Enjoy!