Sustainably Harvesting St John's Wort

Spotlight on St. John's Wort

Written by: Christine Alstat



Time to read 9 min

"Bathed in sunlight, St. John's Wort offers more than beauty—it provides a botanical bridge to better mental health."

Beyond the Bloom - A Healing Herb

While St. John's Wort might be best known for its vibrant yellow flowers and use in supporting a positive mood, there's much more to this perennial herb than meets the eye. Found across North America in meadows and woodlands, St. John's Wort is easily recognizable by its star-shaped flowers and the presence of tiny perforations in its leaves, which are visible when held against the light.

Don't let this herb's unassuming appearance fool you! St. John's Wort is a healing powerhouse, offering a wide range of benefits that extend beyond its popular use as a mood enhancer. While fresh St. John's Wort is ideal for capturing its full medicinal properties, not everyone can access it fresh year-round. This is where freeze-dried St. John's Wort stands out as the best alternative. Unlike other drying methods that can degrade its sensitive compounds, freeze-drying preserves the full spectrum of the herb’s benefits, ensuring that the active ingredients like hypericin and hyperforin remain intact. These compounds are celebrated for their potent properties, making St. John's Wort a versatile tool in herbal medicine cabinets around the globe.

Whether used in topical applications, brewed as a calming tea, or consumed in freeze-dried capsules or a liquid extract, St. John's Wort offers a wide array of benefits. Truly, it’s an herb worth exploring in depth (just remember to consult with a healthcare provider to ensure it’s right for you!).

Freeze-dried st. john

The Historical Significance of St. John's Wort

St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum) has been intertwined with human health and culture for centuries, with its use dating back to ancient Greece. St. John's Wort was historically utilized to enhance the well-being of the nervous system and to foster skin health by promoting healing.

The herb gained prominence during the medieval period, not only for its medicinal properties but also for its reputed mystical qualities. It was believed to have the power to protect and to ward off evil spirits—a testament to its potent effects perceived by early users.

The name "St. John's Wort" is deeply rooted in Western folklore. Traditionally harvested on June 24th, the feast day of St. John the Baptist, the herb's peak harvesting time coincides with midsummer celebrations. Its bright, sun-like yellow flowers symbolize light and rebirth, which are celebrated during these festivities. The plant’s leaves and petals, when held to the light, reveal tiny, translucent spots that are reminiscent of the blood of St. John the Baptist, according to legend. This appearance has not only contributed to the plant's name but also enhanced its mystical stature in herbal lore.

Over the centuries, St. John's Wort has maintained its status as a valuable herb in both traditional and modern medicine, cherished for its ability to treat depression and improve mood among other benefits. Its enduring use underscores the blend of myth, tradition, and scientific benefit that characterizes this remarkable plant.

The petals of St. John's Wort, steeped in history and healing, bloom with the power to mend the mind.

The Incredible Benefits of St. John's Wort

St. John's Wort has an impressive array of benefits, with its most notable being its potential to enhance emotional well-being. This herb has gained widespread recognition for its effectiveness in promoting mental health, particularly in its use as a natural mood stabilizer. In addition to its most famous use, St. John's wort is a powerful immune herb, and has applications in skin preparations, and nervous system support.

  • The Happiness Herb: Studies have suggested that St. John's Wort may support mild to moderate depression. It is believed to work by influencing neurotransmitters in the brain that affect mood and emotions, such as serotonin and dopamine, which play key roles in fostering feelings of well-being and happiness.

  • Stress Support: Furthermore, St. John's Wort is often recommended for its ability to support against anxiety and stress, contributing to overall emotional balance. Many users find that it helps soothe tension, enhance relaxation, and improve sleep quality, which are all crucial for maintaining mental health and coping with the demands of daily life.

  • Immune Support: Beyond its mental health applications, St. John's Wort is also highly valued for its immune-supporting properties. This herb contains powerful bioactive compounds such as hypericin and hyperforin, which are thought to play a key role in bolstering the body's immune system. These compounds help enhance the body’s natural resilience by supporting immune response and providing antioxidant protection. Antioxidants are crucial for combating oxidative stress, a process that can damage cells. St. John's Wort has also been studied for its potential antiviral and antimicrobial properties, making it a useful ally in enhancing the body's ability to defend itself.

  • Skin Health: Additionally, St. John's Wort has a long-standing tradition of being used to promote skin health. It is commonly included in creams and ointments aimed at soothing the skin, reducing the appearance of minor blemishes, and accelerating healing. These applications are supported by the herb’s anti-inflammatory properties, which provide comfort and soothe skin irritations.

  • Nerve Support: St. John's Wort is highly regarded for its potential to support nerve health, a benefit attributed to its rich array of bioactive components. Traditionally, it has been used to enhance nerve function and provide relief from mild nerve-related discomfort. The active ingredients, particularly hypericin and hyperforin, are thought to positively affect the nervous system. These compounds may help modulate neurotransmitter activity, crucial for nerve communication and overall neurological health.

  • Neuroprotection: Furthermore, St. John's Wort is believed to have neuroprotective properties, helping to safeguard nerve cells against damage and supporting nerve regeneration. This can be particularly beneficial for those dealing with nerve sensitivities or injuries. The herb’s potential anti-inflammatory effects also play a significant role in its nerve support capabilities, as inflammation can often be a source of nerve discomfort. By promoting a healthy nerve function, St. John's Wort not only helps alleviate symptoms of nerve discomfort but may also enhance the body's ability to manage stress and recover from nerve-related challenges. 
Christine Alstat Harvesting St. John

How to Harvest St. John's Wort

St. John's Wort grows abundantly here in Oregon and is found happily growing in sunny places. Harvesting this plant requires attention to timing and detail to capture its beneficial qualities at their peak.

The best time to harvest is when the flowers are in full bloom, typically around late June to early July, which coincides with the feast of St. John the Baptist. This period is believed to be when the active compounds such as hypericin are most concentrated.

When harvesting, use garden pruners to carefully clip the top third of the flowering branches. This method ensures that only the most potent parts of the plant are collected while allowing the remainder to continue thriving and contributing to the plant's lifecycle. It’s also crucial to harvest away from roadsides or industrial areas to prevent the accumulation of toxins in the plants.

After collecting, it’s advisable to lay out the St. John’s Wort to allow any insects to leave the plant material. While the plant doesn’t have a physical sting like nettles, handling it with care is still essential due to its photosensitive properties.

Though air-drying is a common preservation method, St. John's Wort is best when used fresh for optimal benefits. Creating tinctures, oils, or salves directly from the fresh plant significantly enhances the effectiveness compared to using dried forms. The only drying method that preserves all of this plants' benefits is freeze-drying as it maintains the biochemical integrity of St. John's Wort and preserves crucial compounds like hypericin and hyperforin effectively. This process ensures that the herb retains its beneficial properties at levels comparable to those found in the fresh plant.

Freeze-drying St. John’s Wort is like capturing the vibrant essence of summer itself. This gentle method meticulously preserves the rich active compounds that make St. John's Wort so beneficial, keeping them as potent as the day they were harvested. Freeze-dried St. John’s Wort ensures you can enjoy the full happy benefits of this herb throughout the year, with all the mood-balancing properties intact.

Freeze-dried Locally Harvested St. John's Wort

Our St. John's Wort is wildcrafted with profound respect for the environment, ensuring each flower is harvested in a manner that supports the health and sustainability of the local ecosystem. By selecting areas known for their pristine conditions and robust St. John's Wort populations, we ensure the collection of the highest quality herbs without disrupting the balance of their natural habitats.

Once harvested, our St. John's Wort undergoes a gentle freeze-drying process that perfectly preserves its nutritional integrity. Unlike other drying methods that can diminish the plant's valuable active compounds, freeze-drying retains the potent life force of St. John's Wort, locking in its rich array of beneficial properties. This means you receive all the benefits, including hypericin and hyperforin, in a convenient, easy-to-use form.

"I've been using these St. John's Wort capsules for a few months now, and I'm genuinely impressed with the results. I was a bit skeptical at first, not sure if a natural supplement could really help with my mood swings, but I've noticed a significant improvement in how I feel day-to-day. The capsules are easy to take, and I haven't experienced any side effects, which was a big concern for me with other treatments. I feel like I'm finally back to my old self again, more balanced and able to enjoy life."

How to use Freshly Harvested St. John's Wort

Harvesting St. John’s Wort at its peak not only promises a bounty of vibrant yellow flowers but also opens up a myriad of possibilities for utilizing this versatile herb. Whether you’re interested in traditional preparations or more innovative applications, here are some creative ways to use freshly harvested St. John’s Wort:

  • Herbal Tea: Fresh St. John's Wort makes a wonderfully soothing tea. Simply steep the fresh flowers and leaves in boiling water for about 10 minutes to extract the herb’s calming properties. This tea is perfect for relaxing in the evening or soothing a tense mood during the day.

  • Tinctures: To harness the full strength of St. John's Wort for longer periods, creating a tincture is an excellent choice. Soak the fresh herb in a solvent like vodka or pure grain alcohol for several weeks, shaking occasionally. Strain and store the tincture in a dark bottle. Use a few drops daily to promote emotional balance and nerve health.

  • Infused Oil: St. John’s Wort oil is renowned for its skin-healing properties. To make your own, fill a jar with fresh flowers and cover them with a carrier oil like olive or almond oil. Let the mixture sit in a sunny spot for about three to four weeks, shaking occasionally, then strain. The resulting oil can be used to soothe burns, bruises, and minor wounds, or as a massage oil for areas affected by nerve pain.

  • Herbal Vinegar: Add fresh St. John’s Wort to apple cider vinegar and let it steep for a few weeks to create an herbal vinegar that can be used in salad dressings or as a skin toner. This not only adds flavor but also integrates the mild antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties of the herb into your diet or skincare routine.
St John
  • Herbal Butter: Chop fresh St. John’s Wort and blend it into softened butter to create a delightful herbal butter. It’s excellent on toast, baked potatoes, or steamed vegetables, offering a unique flavor and a subtle, herbal benefit.

  • Bath Flowers: For a therapeutic bath experience, tie fresh St. John’s Wort flowers in a cloth or place them in a large tea bag and let them steep in your bathwater. This can help promote relaxation and soothe the skin, making for a restorative bath time ritual.

  • Syrup: Boil fresh St. John’s Wort with water and sugar to create a simple syrup. This can be used in cocktails, teas, or desserts, providing a hint of herbal sweetness along with its mood-lifting effects.

  • Skin Salve: Combine the infused oil from St. John's Wort with beeswax and shea butter to create a healing skin salve. This salve is excellent for addressing skin irritations, minor cuts, and burns, harnessing the anti-inflammatory properties of the herb.
St John
Christine Alstat ND

The Author: Christine Alstat

Meet Christine Alstat, an internationally acclaimed naturopath and herbalist of Japanese heritage, whose profound expertise in plants and natural health has garnered recognition worldwide. As the dedicated CEO and owner of Eclectic Herb, Christine seamlessly intertwines her deep-rooted commitment to the Earth with her business, cultivating a space where her passion for plants is ever in full bloom. Her influential voice on herbal wisdom resonates across the globe through publications and panels, reflecting a lifetime commitment to nurturing both the plant kingdom and the earth.


Beyond her thriving professional life, Christine finds joy in the simple pleasures of hobbies. Whether she's spending time with her family, gathering herbs throughout the seasons, or concocting her own remedies in her home apothecary, Christine Alstat embodies a harmonious blend of nature, health, and the spiritual bonds that tie us all together.