You can have an amazing herbal healing oil, good for all skin problems, earaches, hemorrhoids, vaginal infections, and wounds. The bad news is that you have only weeks to gather the materials and make it and you can’t buy it in stores. The good news is that it grows nearly everywhere, and it takes only minutes to gather enough to make a year’s supply for a family with enough to give samples away.
It’s called Oil of St. John’s Wort, and the flowers are blooming throughout the Northwest and probably much of the country right now. It’s late in Southern Oregon this year, thanks to our late cold rain; it normally blooms in May and early June; it started this year in mid-June, and should bloom into mid-July.
Most people have heard of St. John’s Wort as an anti-depressant first popularized in Europe. It’s best not to use the herb internally, as internal use can cause photo-sensitivity. As a topical antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, and astringent, it is safe and exceedingly useful.
Only the fresh flowers are usable to make the Oil; dried doesn’t work. People familiar with the herb are apt to believe that only the wild St. Johns Wort, also known as Klamath Weed, a noxious weed in pastures with clusters of bright yellow half-inch-wide flowers, is useful for medicine. But the domestic evergreen ground cover St. Johns Wort, used commonly in parking lots, roadsides, and other public landscaping as well as home landscapes, has two-inch wide blossoms that make excellent oil.
The flowers of both of these Hypericum species are unique and easy to recognize: they have 5 shiny yellow petals surrounding a pom-pom of anthers, tipped in red when freshly opened. The flowers of the wild Klamath Weed and the domestic ground cover are identical, apart from size: it takes about 5 minutes to gather enough of the ground cover to make a quart of oil, while it might take hours to gather enough of the little Klamath weed blossoms to do the same. The leaves are similarly identical apart from size: oval and twice as long as they are wide; two inches long in the ground cover; ½ inch long in the weed.
The Oil is quick and easy to make once you have the flowers: cut the blossoms up a bit; put them in a jar; cover them with olive oil; put the jar of oil and blossoms in a pot of cool water; heat it to a low simmer; keep it simmering for ½ hour; remove from the water and allow it to cool; strain and bottle it.
For an antibiotic that is perhaps stronger in some cases, you can make garlic oil the same way. Garlic oil in the ear will clear up a sinus infection or a sore throat, and you can make it any time of year. It’s also good on all wounds, and is useful internally in dogs and cats for respiratory and sinus infections.