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Depression and Saint John’s Wort: Practical Backyard Medicine

Depression And Saint John’s Wort: Practical Backyard Medicine

One spring, I caught a cold. Spring colds are the worst. Just as the weather is turning toward glorious sunshine and warmth, I was stuck inside sniffling. To make matters worse, I caught a chill, then a fever, and next thing I knew I had a full-blown sinus infection. That spring, while I lay on the couch feeling sorry for myself, the rest of the world burst into bloom.

By early June, my back yard was filled with all kinds of plants. Some were welcome, too many were weeds. Most of the weeds were oldies I’d been pulling for years, but there was one new one out there, too. It grew on the edge of one of my beds most easily visible from the living room couch where I’d spent many hours half sleeping, half awake in a funky state of lethargy and depression. I was too tired to go out for a close look until about mid-June when Sue stopped by for a visit. Together we walked through my weedy yard talking about whatever it was that arose. We stopped in front of the new weed, and I asked her if she could identify it for me.

“Oh, that’s easy,” she said. “It’s Saint John’s Wort.”

Sue plucked a sprig and showed me the little, neat rows of spots on the undersides of the leaves filled with red goodness. I smiled and thanked her.

Later, I did a spot of research on St. John’s Wort and discovered that it was supposedly good for depression. According to Michael Wood, it’s especially good for decongesting the liver and digestive system, which in-turn eases the depression and anxiety that accompanies longer illnesses.

I reckoned that The Folk had planted it to help me get back on my feet. I sent my hubby out to buy a bottle of St. John’s Wort tincture that evening and I started in on a homeopathic-style dose, three drops three times a day. Within a few days, I felt considerably better. After two weeks, I was right as rain again.

Now, I know to use Saint John’s Wort to help myself or my friends or family members get through depression when it’s preceded or linked to a longer illness or to illness that feels debilitating (even if it’s just a long, drawn-out cold or flu). Often, the illness is accompanied by feeling generally frustrated and miserable because it’s preventing us from doing what we really want or need to be doing. The longer it hangs on, the more depressed and frustrated we become. Often, too, you’ll see other signs that the body is just plain tired, like lingering fatigue or possibly overheating of the liver (similar to night sweats or hot flashes, but not necessarily as pronounced).

Since that first gift from The Folk, Saint John’s Wort has become a good ally for clearing the system and supporting the liver after any long illness or period of excess stress…and I’ve most gratefully paid much closer attention to the weeds that pop up unbidden along the way just in case they carry some good medicine to me from The Folk.

Candace Hunter

Candace Hunter is a self-taught herbalist and artist who never, ever practices on guinea pigs in part because her family and friends are generally up to the job. She is co-author of The Practical Herbalist's Herbal Folio series and author of Herbalism for the Zombie Apocalypse. She edits The Practical Herbalist website and Practical Herbalist Press publications. She has also recently entered into the field of podcasting with reckless abandon. Listen to her on Real Herbalism Radio today, see her work at CandaceHunter.com, or find her on Facebook at Candace Hunter Creations.


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