How to Make and Use St. John’s Wort Oil
St. John’s Wort oil is really, truly one of my favorite herbal remedies, and I hope you find inspiration in this simple herbal oil recipe – and the plethora of uses for this remedy.
I know I’ve been saying that just about every remedy I’ve made this summer has been my favorite, but that’s for a good reason.
Since I have regained a little bit of my vitality as I recover from Lyme, I have more wherewithal to garden, harvest, and make medicines. And what better way to celebrate both my own health and the medicine and bounty of herbs than to create my favorite remedies from which I reap so much joy?
It’s like a welcoming home party, to my health and to having a more active relationship with the plants.
St. John’s Wort oil is definitely a guest of honor to this party. Not to pick favs, but maybe the guest of honor.
I more often call this remedy Hypericum oil than St. John’s Wort oil, so if I start using that name, you’ve been notified.
Why St. John’s Wort oil is my favorite
This is my go-to herbal oil because it has so many uses, for any and all pain and for nervous system soothing.
And because I use St. John’s Wort oil daily, sometimes multiple times a day, on both myself and my kids. I am continually reaching for this remedy.
Mostly, it has helped so much over the years. It never fails.
(There’s no right or wrong way to refer to herbs. But I often, though not always, call herbs “they” and not “it” as I see them as a being and not a thing. I will often refer to a remedy as “it”, because most times a remedy becomes an entity on its own, and has more than one single plant or substance within it.)
I’ll go into other aspects and about and uses for Hypericum oil below.
How to Make St. John’s Wort Oil
- Gather fresh St. John’s Wort flowers and buds.
- Wilt for a day or overnight, if desired.
- Fill a jar about halfway with those wilted, freshly dried SJW flowers and buds.
- Pour a small amount of alcohol, grain or 40 proof like brandy or vodka into the jar and mix thoroughly with a spoon to fully saturate the herb. I use about 2 tablespoons alcohol for a half filled quart jar and about one tablespoon for a half filled pint jar.
- Let the alcohol-mixed SJW sit for a couple of hours.
- Pour your favorite carrier oil into the jar. Make sure there is about 1-2 inches of “head space” in your jar. This means there is about 2 inches of oil above the level of the herbs. Often the oil will not be directly on top of the herbs but under or in between the herbs. Wherever it is, try to make it be 1-2 inches. You will probably have to add more oil a day or two later as the herbs absorb it through the steeping process.
- Cover. Shake well! Let sit in the sun for a minimum of 6-8 weeks. Some sources say as little as 3 weeks. It’s up to you.
- Wilted or freshly dried herbs will be less likely to cause moisture to build up in the jar and cause mold. But it is still possible. Check inside the jar frequently for moisture before you go to shake it. Wipe out with a clean, dry cloth if you see it.
- Strain through a colander or strainer, the strain again through cheesecloth.
- Label your newly strained oil and store in dark jars. Keep them in the fridge to extend their life even longer, if desired.
- Use liberally, daily even. Massage into your entire body, or just your earlobes. Use for acute pain, and for chronic achiness. Use however you please and feel the St. John’s Wort nervous system regulating and pain relieving properties.
Uses for St. John’s Wort Oil
The uses are wide. I’m going to try and organize it and add in what I combine with this to make it more effective.
Acute nerve-related pain
This is one of the classic indications for St. John’s Wort oil.
- Includes carpal tunnel, thoracic outlet syndrome, peripheral neuropathy, Raynaud’s, chilblains, sciatica, and any other painful, nerve numbness.
- Pain that is sharp and shooting, and pain that runs along nerves or pain in areas rich in nerve endings like dental pain, recovery after extractions or dental work, hurt fingers or toes.
Spinal pain, from neck to coccyx
Another classic indication because of the affinity St. John’s Wort has with the nerves themselves, which are routed through the body via the spinal column.
I wish I would’ve remembered this after the birth of my first child where I broke my tailbone after 9 1/2 hours of pushing (you can read the story here).
And when I broke it again a year later sliding.
And after I gave birth to my second child and had about 9 months of intense tailbone pain as part of a pelvic floor, SI joint, spinal and core imbalance. Yeah, postpartum people have a lot going on sometimes.
Chronic pain, muscle cramps, achiness.
SJW oil is a lovely combination of being warming to augment circulation, and having anti-inflammatory actions to initiate functional healing processes.
These immune regulating components combined with the nerve tissue affinity make SJW oil soothing for all sorts of aches and pains.
Digestive support and upper belly/rib discomfort
One of the actions of St. John’s Wort from a Chinese medicine perspective is to move Liver Qi. This alterative, mild liver detoxification support is a main contributor to this plant’s antidepressant effects. When a stuck, stagnant liver and emotions get a little bit of movement, the free flow makes everything seems a lighter.
St. John’s Wort doesn’t stop there. This plant then helps digestion function through strengthening the enteric brain and the brain-gut connection. The everyday toxins and metabolites, experiences and emotions are free to flow through the liver with the support of SJW, and then are able to be digested and ushered out of the body via a more vitalized digestive tract.
When I do visceral (aka organ) assessments, I often see (and have felt in myself, for sure) the liver to be out of place and butting up against the ribs. This possibly leads to diaphragm, scapula and then breathing problems, and although they are mostly subtle feelings, sometimes they can really bug someone.
When the lower side of the liver, it can butt up against the hepatic flexure of the large intestine and psoas, which transfers pain and tension along its length around the ileocecal valve and right inguinal region. A congested, out of place liver can even contribute to hips being out, or SI joint pain, even going down the length of the leg, down to the foot.
I am dealing with this right now, actually! Today I had confirmation that this was the case. I went to my bodyworker for the first time since COVID, and she was like, “girl, your liver is messing with your leg”. Tell me about it.
The last time this happened to me, I drank St. John’s Wort tea plus some other liver support and massaged the liver and surrounding areas well with SJW oil. Yes, the oil is absorbed by the body and becomes an internal medicine (I talk about the skin-nervous-immune connection for topical remedies in this post about Lavender herbal oil)
After a few local massages, I can get the liver to go back into place. A St. John’s Wort tincture would’ve been good too (but I didn’t have any) because alcohol can help guide herbs into the liver Qi from a Chinese perspective.
I often use St. John’s Wort oil on my kids solar plexus, front, back and sides when they are feeling down, anxious, or are wavering in their sense of self, especially when those emotions are alongside any digestive symptoms.
Ideally, I would also be serving the Catnip and Chamomile tea, which is supportive for those who are holding emotions/stress in the belly.
Energetically protective and for ritual
I have read a lot about St. John’s Wort through the years. There are so many indications for this plant on spiritual, energetic and psycho-emotional perspectives, and we could talk on this subject for days.
This is a magical plant from the European traditions, no doubt going back to prehistoric times. SJW holds its space as a strong link to the mystical realms right alongside Elder and Hawthorn.
If I had to sum it up, I think SJW is useful when some sort of fragmentation has occurred, and now the person is on a path of deep and transformational healing.
This plant is a wonderful ally for holding one in the face of shock and trauma of many types. It’s a woundwort, afterall. Being bright yellow and associated with St. John’s the Baptist’s day which is around the summer solstice, they unifies you with your divine, god-like self.
In a ritual space, it is also used for protection from non-human entities, from evil ones who can attach, to the annoying (fairies), the neutral (like a house ghost) or even the well-meaning ones (like dreams of the loved dead) when you just don’t have the wherewithal to deal with.
If there are people in your life that won’t let you move on, or who you wish to create some space from but they won’t stop trying to engage you, an anointing of SJW oil after a clearing can help reclaim your energy from others.
This is also a key remedy I use in sleep paralysis, along with Schisandra and SJW internally and a simple witchcraft 101 water rituals with sea salt, bay leaves and lemon water. Someday I will get into how to treat sleep paralysis – because it can truly make your life and sleeping time a living hell.
Great for kids: Fear and waking in the night in children, growing pains and any bump or bruise
This remedy has absolute saved my family so many times.
Never has it failed with middle of the night growing pains, middle of the night waking in fear or generally being restless and ungrounded.
I massage the oil on the affected area when there’s pain, and on the low back and along the spine when there’s fear or waking unsettled. Wolife (5 1/2 upon writing this) will request SJW massage on his calves even when he is not having growing pains, because he has a strong association with calve massage helping him feel relaxed and calm.
Just this very morning Iris (1 week shy of being 3) said first thing this morning that she wanted “herbal oil massage” for her arm. She has been getting Nursemaid’s Elbow, a semi-dislocation of the radius that is common in children under 4. The condition is painful, the kid crying and protecting their arm by holding it bent across the belly.
(I’m not sure what was going on this morning. She wasn’t in pain and her arm was definitely not dislocated, but maybe it felt weird or she was thinking about it. Maybe she just wanted a SJW oil massage!?)
When she has had Nursemaid’s Elbow, I massage the lower arm with SJW oil and often that is enough to pop it back into place. There is a super simple adjustment to put it back in place too, but I find that using the SJW oil and sometimes a Chinese herbal trauma liniment is all that’s needed to put it back. In the future I will put a stirp of Kensiotape across the joint, too, after it is back in place, to help keep it there.
There has been so many times when the kids have had big falls or big bumps on the shin, and a SJW massage as soon as I can will help them calm and feel better.
SJW oil will prevent a bruise from forming, too, which I would expect from Yarrow oil, maybe Comfrey oil but did not expect from SJW oil until I kept seeing it happen (or not happen, rather) over and over. This plant does have significant anti-inflammatory actions, so perhaps I should’ve be too surprised.
St. John’s Wort is useful for times when we are going through a transition of life. Like birth, adolescence, menopause, and also in more subtle individual changes like starting something new or moving.
They help us come back to our center of Self and to align with the higher, divine shining self. This plant helps keep our path illuminated.
Nervous system overwhelm
There is nothing like taking an epsom salt bath while sipping some herbal tea (Linden, Motherwort or Skullcap, perhaps?), then doing some self massage of SJW oil. Except….maybe a Lavender oil self-massage?
Let’s do a little nervine oil comparison since I love and use both so much. How do you know which one to use?
To be fair, I like both of these oils, but SJW oil is more therapeutic to aligning and containing ourselves through an activation and balance of the nervous system so it can then heal.
I use SJW oil as part of a serious nervous system reset. But it’s use as an acute stress-reducing and calming remedy is marked, too.
Lavender herbal oil brings on a stronger relaxation and clearing off of excess thoughts and worry by venting them out the head and neck, and in their absence and deep sinking we can heal.
Burn care and sun protection
SJW oil is the main face oil I use, on a daily basis. This is because St. John’s Wort oil seems to absorb light and create a layer of protection between our skin and the sun.
This remedy is soothing to sunburns and heat burns, too, especially along with Rose Petal bandages.
For years I overlooked how useful SJW can be internally for bladder pain, with or without an infection. It was only after reading the physicomedicalics and eclectics that I started to test this herb for bladder pain.
As a supportive remedy along with internal herbs and cranberry, massaging in SJW along the lower back, sacrum and lower belly can soothe the pain of a bladder infections.
St. John’s Wort Oil is generous remedy
Wow, that is a lot of uses for SJW oil! Can you see why I use it multiple times a day?
I would love to know how you have used this remedy. Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment or email email@example.com
Sending you warm and sunny Hypericum wishes,
I only have some Rum, is this okay to use instead?
Yes, use whatever alcohol you have available 🙂
Can this oil be made with dried St. John’s wort?
Hi Amy, you technically can make St. John’s Wort oil with dried St. John’s but it will not be nearly as effective, if effective at all. I wouldn’t recommend it.