St. John's Wort, the sunny weed
St. John’s Wort has a rich and colorful history. From Antiquity to Middle Age, it was believed to have magical powers and it was used to ward off the evil and to protect from disease. The flowers of this sacred plant, used in St. John's Day celebrations, were harvested before daybreak, with a pure heart and bare feet, walking backwards. It is a plant with a sunny aura, symbolizing victory over the forces of darkness and evil.
Its medicinal and cosmetic applications are now "officially" recognized, ranging from depression to calming nerves to skincare ailments. Paracelsus, alchemist and medical practitioner of the 16th century, noted its action against "the evil spells that push men into despair" - an ancient way of defining depression-, a property of St. John's Wort that is now well established by science.
The main part of its constituents are found in its bright & beautiful yellow flowers: hyperforin naturally fosters the scarification process and helps reduce inflammations, and hypericin, which has potent anti-inflammatory properties. Its flavonoids are efficient antioxidants, which help fight aging signs.
DIY St. John's Wort Oil
The active ingredients of this plant are captured by macerating the flowers and buds in several weeks in a vegetable oil, which then takes a beautiful yellow-orangish tint. It is however recommended not to apply St. John's Wort macerate prior to sun exposure (ideally only use it in the evenings), for hypericin makes the skin photosensitive. This preparation can be very useful for mild and sunburns. Amongst other emergency applications, it can help reduce muscle stiffness after sport: just massage it into your aching muscles and drink generous amounts of water.
The flowers and flower buds should be picked when they leave red-purple traces in your fingers, not before.
Select a glass jar, and fill it till half with fresh plucked flowers of St. John's Wort. Cover everything with an oil of your choice (almond or jojoba oil are great choices, as they are relatively stable). Close the jar and leave it for four weeks, next to a sunny window, regularly turning the jar upside down. Filter through a cotton gauze (like a simple compress), and put it in a new bottle.
Label the bottle, and voilà!