St. John’s Wort


St. John’s Wort, a solar plant, changes its color as the heat of the summer sun grows, shifting like a fiery blaze from yellow to fiery red. It thrives where the sun shines the hardest, growing in meadows, on wastelands, and on dry hills.

Just as the summer sun is connected with sweet and restful sleep, St. John’s Wort taken during winter is a remedy for insomnia and other conditions associated with the season when the sun shines less, such as melancholy or depression. St. John’s Wort tea was traditionally given to those suffering from pathological mental illnesses.

In the region of Wallachia, it’s called “sunătoare,” “pojarniță” in Bukovina, “pozorniță” or “prozolniță” in Moldova, while in Transylvania, it’s known as “gușa-găinei,” “iarbă-de-inimă,” “lup” or “sanitoare.”

Sprinkled with the blood of St. John

It is also called “St. John’s Herb” because around June 24, when the saint’s birth is celebrated alongside the Midsummer celebrations, it’s said that the plant begins to bloom. And around August 29, the beheading of John the Baptist, St. John’s Wort flowers are already reddened, and its sap also takes on a bloody color. For this reason, people imagined that drops of blood had dripped onto the flower petals and colored them.

Moreover, St. John’s Wort infusion was used for blood cleansing purposes.

The reddish color is due to hypericin, a substance found in small black dots on the plant’s surface, making it appear as if it’s afflicted with smallpox. Interestingly, it is precisely hypericin that gives St. John’s Wort the power to heal wounds, while at the same time giving it the property to dye clothes, not in a bloody red but in a shade that leans towards it.

St. John’s Wort Brandy

Around the same time, St. John’s Wort is harvested when the flowers have already turned red, to be put into brandy, which then turns red as embers and gains a much better taste within just a few hours.

St. John’s Wort brandy was made not only for the pleasure of drinking it but also for its therapeutic effects. It was given to those who had heart pain or injury, strictly on an empty stomach.

Additionally, St. John’s Wort was boiled in sour soup or brandy, and after cooling down a bit, those suffering from stomach or intestinal problems were treated with this elixir.

St. John’s Wort Ointment

The reddened flowers of St. John’s Wort were taken and left to macerate in vegetable oil, kept warm or even exposed to the sun, for up to six weeks. This ointment was used for cuts, burns, wounds, bruises, blisters, and chafing.

Another potion was made using St. John’s Wort ointment; it was mixed with wine and then boiled until the wine evaporated. This remedy was administered with a spoon for liver diseases and burning sensations in the chest.

For skin eruptions or sores

From Simion Florea Marian, we learn that “hâra” is “a kind of dandruff like bran” that one could easily get rid of by putting St. John’s Wort in a washbasin and washing with it about 3-4 times. The same procedure was used for sores on the head or body. It is also said that St. John’s Wort is “good for the severe sore.”

In some parts of the country, the dried plant was crushed, mixed with sour cream, and used for “sweet sores.” For the same purpose, in other areas, the ash of burnt St. John’s Wort, together with roasted white bean grains powdered to a flour-like consistency, was combined with sour cream.

St. John’s Wort Tea

The infusion made from the St. John’s Wort plant is consumed for coughs, shortness of breath, colds, stomach aches, liver, or kidney diseases.

Moreover, compresses with St. John’s Wort tea rejuvenate and regenerate aged and dry skin.


1. Simion Florea Marian, Botanica poporană română Volumul III/ Ediție critică, introducere, repere biobibliografice,
indice Botanica, indice capitole publicate antum/postum, text stabilit, indice informatori și bibliografie de Aura
Brădățan, Editura Academiei Române, Suceava, 2010
3. Valer Butură, Enciclopedie de etnobotanică românească, Editura Științifică și enciclopedică, București, 1979
4. Vasile Voiculescu, Cartea satului, Toate leacurile la îndemână, Ed. III-a, Fundația Culturală Regală ”Principele
Carol”, Insitutul de arte Grafice ”Luceafărul” S.A., București, 1938
5. Farm. Corneliu Constantinescu, Plantele medicinale în apărarea sănătății, Ediția a VII-a, Editura RECOOP, București 1979

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