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Herbal Adventures with Susun - St. Joan's Wort

Tuesday, June 25, 2019 4:26 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

Herbal Adventures with St. Joan's Wort
by Susun S. Weed



It was a snowy winter night when my sweetheart brought home the brochure and said: "Let's take a horseback riding vacation." Despite the fact that I am only an occasional rider, I did grow up in Texas, and spending a week in the saddle didn't seem like a big deal to me. We looked at the pictures, read the descriptions of the trips, and began to fantasize ourselves in far-away places riding free and easy. Where would we ride? Ireland? France? Italy? England? Which trip would we take?

It was the herbs of Provence that decided for me; and my sweetheart, good naturedly, went along. We would fly to Marseilles, France, and be driven from there to the ranch, where we would get our horses. Each day's ride, said the brochure, would take 8-9 hours and we would stay at a different country inn each evening. Of course, I just naturally assumed they were overstating the amount of time we would be on horseback. I mean, we couldn't actually ride for eight or more hours every day for a week, could we? Wouldn't that be impossible?

Nearly.


As the first day of riding stretched on and on, I realized with a growing horror that, in fact, they had under-estimated the time it would take us to get from one inn to the next. Our guide tried some off trail "shortcuts," which got us rather lost, so it took us nearly ten hours to find our inn. When we dismounted at last, I felt the muscles of my legs melt, refusing momentarily to keep me upright. I managed to get my luggage, upstairs to my room, and into the shower on legs of rubber. As I pulled off my riding breeches and sweat-stained shirt and gave myself to the hot water, I was certain that no human being could possibly be more sore than I was at that moment.

I wasn't at all worried though. I knew the rest of the trip would be easy. Since I couldn't be in more pain than I was, there was no choice but to feel better as the days went on. And I did, with a little help from my herbal first aid kit.

I take my herbal first aid kit with me where ever I go: in the car, on the airplane, on my backpacking and river rafting adventures, and on horseback, of course. I carry only ten remedies, but those few have helped me deal with every problem I've encountered in my travels. (Yes, I use the same remedies at home, too.)

Of course, lots of wound remedies are ready to use right from the ground. One of my apprentices treated more than half of the injuries she saw in one week of working in a local emergency room safely (and successfully) with plants growing right outside the hospital!

Such as plantain and burdock. Plantain (Plantago) leaf poultices stop pain and allergic reactions to bee stings, ease the itch of flea and mosquito bites, and help wounds heal without scaring. I simply chew a fresh leaf -- of any species -- and apply it to the problem area. Burdock (Arctium) leaves are too bitter to chew, so I soak them in vinegar. A jarful provides lots of instant poultices for soothing and healing bruises and other intact-skin injuries.

When I am far from the ground or on unfamiliar turf, plantain ointment is a good second best. Even better is my lanolin-based comfrey (Symphytum) root ointment. What a blessed miracle comfrey is when it comes to treating blisters raised from too much walking (or riding). Many times I have applied the ointment to a blister every 5-10 minutes for 1-2 hours and watched as the blister reabsorbed and disappeared overnight. (A circular patch of dead skin would appear a week or so later.)

Limited to my fannypack when I was riding, I carried only three remedies. Which ones? A bottle of infused St. Joan's/John's wort oil (Hypericum perforatum), a spray bottle of yarrow tincture (Achillea millefolium), and a tiny bottle of osha root tincture (Ligusticum porterii).

(Each day a driver took our luggage, including my full first-aid kit, to the next inn by car, where they rested, awaiting our arrival that evening by horse.)

I used the St. Joan's wort oil every day, in fact, several times a day, as sunscreen. When I forgot to apply it to my chest the day I wore a low-cut shirt, I used it to ease the pain of my sunburn, and to turn my skin from red to tan overnight. I don't go out in the sun without it! You may find that it takes your skin a week or more to learn how to use St. Joan's wort oil as a sunscreen. But once it learns, you will never go back to store-bought chemical sunscreens. (Some scientists actually believe that using currently available sunscreens increases your risk of skin cancer. And the statistics seem to agree: the increase in sunscreen usage over the past two decades is exactly paralleled by increases in skin cancer rates.)

I also use St. Joan's wort oil to ease achy muscle. When I got to our inn each evening I used it lavishly on my upper inner thighs and "sit bones." (My friends were worried that I would get a sore butt riding so much, but the fleshy part of my bottom was the only place that didn't feel sore.) Applied after my hot shower, the ruby red oil (made from fresh blossoms infused in olive oil kept in a cool, dark place for at least six weeks) goes deep to help my muscles clear lactic acid -- easing soreness, releasing spasms, and helping muscle tone.

The tincture of Hypericum is also red, and it also eliminates muscle pain. Better yet, it prevents the build-up of lactic acid in muscles, thus preventing pain. To ease my sore muscles that first night, I took a full dropperful every hour until bedtime. I felt remarkably fit the next morning, with virtually no residual soreness or stiffness. Each day thereafter, I took a full dropperful of the tincture when I awoke, another after breakfast, another before dinner and one more before bed. In addition, I put 2-3 dropperfuls into my water bottle, which I sipped throughout the day. So long as you use the tincture, there is no overdose. But beware of St. J's in capsules. In general, I strictly avoid all herbs in capsules, as they consistently produce strange, sometimes life- threatening, side-effects. 

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