Most people are familiar with St. John’s wort’s benefit in addressing mild depression. The herb is rich in a variety of flavonoids that collectively inhibit monoamine oxidase (MAO), the enzyme responsible for disrupting the function of neurotransmitters. serotonin and norepinephrine. These compounds, which include kaempferol, quercitin, myricetin, hyperoside, luteolin and rutin, also play a role in regulating serotonin and norepinephrine levels, the “feel good” brain chemicals. Hypericin, in particular, prevents the re-uptake of GABA and other neurotransmitters to produce a relaxation effect.
But St. Johns wort has other benefits to offer, including antibiotic, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and antispasmodic properties. As such, it is useful in relieving pain when applied topically. In this formula, the herb is partnered with yarrow, ginger and cinnamon leaf essential oils – herbs that provide similar actions.
Note that because the essential oil of St. John’s wort is very costly and difficult to obtain, this formula starts out with St. John’s wort infused oil. You can buy this, or you can make it yourself using the simpler’s method. Just fill a mason jar with the dried herb and cover with a carrier oil, leaving a ½-inch head-space at the top. Cap the jar and place in a warm place (preferably in the sun in late spring or summer) for 4-6 weeks, giving the jar a gentle swirl each day. Make sure the herbal material remains covered in oil as it will absorb liquid over time. If it rises above the line of liquid add more oil. Sweet almond oil is best for this salve because it is nourishing and readily absorbed in the skin, but you can also use jojoba or olive oil.
1/2 cup St. John’s wort oil
2 tablespoons beeswax beads
15 drops ginger essential oil
15 drops yarrow essential oil
15 drops cinnamon leaf essential oil
Gently heat the St. John’s wort oil in the top of a double boiler over low heat. Add the beeswax; stir until completely melted. Remove from heat and immediately add the essential oils; stir to blend. Pour into clean tins and allow to rest undisturbed on a level surface for 8 hours or overnight. Cap, label and store in a cool, dry place. To use, rub a small amount onto skin with fingertips, using circular motions. Use within 15 months.