Scots Pine health benefits: for respiratory conditions

Scots pine can reach 30 metres in height

Scots pine can reach 30 metres in height

Originally published on Herbal Medicine from Your Garden

The Scots Pine, Pinus sylvestris syn. P. rubra, is a tall tree which is unsuitable for all but the largest garden, reaching a height and spread of 30mx10m (82ft x 32ft). Despite its name, it is native across Europe and Eastern Asia from Mongolia, Kazakhstan and parts of the old USSR to Turkey, and from France and Spain to Finland. Even so, the only name by which it is known in English is Scots pine (sometimes “Scotch” pine, but we won’t say any more about that).

Scots pine grows best in cool areas on light to medium well drained soil. It grows well on poor soil and is not fussy about pH, growing happily in both very acid and very alkaline soil, but it does not like calcareous (chalky or limey) soils.

Various medicinal products made from Scots pine are available to buy which is generally a good thing as, due to the height of the tree, collection by non-professionals is not recommended. Needles, pollen and young shoots are collected in Spring and dried for medicinal use. Seeds are collected when ripe. The resin is extracted either by tapping or by distillation of the wood and further processed to produce turpentine.

Scots pine should not be used by anyone with a history of allergic skin reactions.

Pine pollen is sold as a men’s tonic, as it contains some testosterone, but this is only present in very small quantities and is unlikely to have anything more than a placebo effect. The turpentine is used in remedies for kidney and bladder disorders, and for respiratory complaints. Externally it is used as an inhaler for respiratory disorders. Shoots and needles can be added to bath water to help with insomnia and nervous exhaustion. Remedies made from them are used for chest infections. A decoction of seeds is used as a douche to treat vaginal discharge.

As with remedies, Scots pine essential oils should not be used by anyone prone to allergic skin conditions. Never use Scots pine internally except under professional supervision.

Two types of essential oil are available: from the seeds and from the needles. Both require dilution at a rate of 10 drops essential oil to 1 ounce (30ml) carrier oil. Essential oil from seeds is used as a diuretic and to stimulate respiration. Essential oil from needles is used for respiratory infections, asthma, bronchitis and also for flatulence (“gas” or “wind“).

I offer Scots pine essential oil from needles in my online shop.

There is also a pine Bach Flower Remedy used for feelings of guilt and self-blame.

As stated, I don’t advise growing Scots pine in the average garden, or doing your own collection unless you’re a skilled climber with all the appropriate kit. Scots pine does not generally need much looking after, and doesn’t need to be given chemical fertiliser. In particular, organic growing methods are essential if you’re collecting for medicinal use, to avoid adulteration with noxious chemicals. To find out more about organic gardening, visit the Gardenzone.

Queen Anne’s Lace health benefits: for genito-urinary conditions

Originally published on Herbal Medicine from Your Garden

Queen Anne's lace or wild carrot

Queen Anne’s lace or wild carrot

Queen Anne’s lace or QAL, Daucus carota (syn. D. abyssinicus, D. aegyptiacus, D. azoricus, D. bocconei, D. gingidium, D. glaberrimus, D. gummifer, D. halophilus, D. hispanicus, D. hispidus, D. maritimus, D. mauritanicus, D. maximus, D. micranthus, D. parviflorus, D. polygamus and D. rupestris!), is also known as eastern carrot, hu luo bo, Mediterranean carrot, Queen’s lace, salosi, sea carrot and wild carrot. Although it is extremely pretty in its second year when it flowers, it should never be collected from the wild, because like all umbelliferous plants (family Apiaceae) it is easy to mistake for hemlock, which is very poisonous.

The name Queen Anne’s lace is also used for Bishop’s weed, which is in the same family but not closely related.

QAL is a hardy biennial but is almost always treated as an annual. It can reach a height of 1m (3′) and a spread of 30cm (1′). It requires full sun, and should be sown in rich soil fertilized for the previous crop. Sow direct very thinly in v-shaped trenches any time from early Spring to mid-Fall. An alternative method is station sowing (sowing 2 or 3 seeds at the desired final spacing). Final spacing is 10cm (4″) x 15cm (6″). Keep well weeded and thin to a single plant per station (or thin to final spacing). Foliar feed twice a week with half-strength seaweed fertilizer for the best results.

Avoid growing at the same time as other Apiaceae grown for seed production, eg. fennel, dill, coriander. If you don’t want seed, the flowers should be removed. I guess you could use them for flower arrangements, but I don’t know how long they keep in water.

Cut one or two leaves per plant as required for medicinal use. Pull up whole plants for dye 4-5 months after sowing, or in July for remedies. Can be dried for later use.

NB: Queen Anne’s lace may cause allergic reactions and sap may cause photo-sensitivity and/or dermatitis in some people. Handling carrot leaves, especially when wet, can cause irritation or even blisters. According to Plants for a Future, “sensitized photosensitive persons may get an exact reproduction of the leaf on the skin by placing [it] on the skin for awhile, followed by exposure to sunshine.”

The roots can be cooked, but don’t come close to cultivated carrots either for tenderness or size. Deep fried flowerheads apparently produce a gourmet’s delight. The seed can be used as a flavoring for soups and stews. Dried powdered roots have been used as a coffee substitute.

NB: Queen Anne’s lace is not a suitable remedy during pregnancy or for anyone trying for a baby.

Make a standard infusion using 30 g (1 ounce) dried whole plant or leaves/3 handfuls of fresh whole plant or leaves/1 ounce of seeds (not from a packet, as these are usually treated with fungicide) to 500ml (2 US cups, 16 fl oz) water. The dosage is up to 250ml (1 US cup, 8 fl oz).

Queen Anne’s lace is a diuretic and cleansing medicine which soothes the digestive tract and stimulates the uterus. It supports the liver and stimulates the genito-urinary system.

An infusion of the whole plant is used as a diuretic, to clear obstructions and treat digestive disorders, edema (oedema), eye complaints, flatulence (“gas” or “wind“), kidney and bladder disorders and to promote milk flow in nursing mothers.

An infusion of the leaves has been used to help prevent kidney stone formation, to reduce existing stones, to stimulate the pituitary gland (and increase sex hormone levels) and for cystitis.

Grated raw root (also grated cultivated carrot) is used to expel threadworms and to induce menstruation and uterine contractions.

A root infusion is diuretic and can be used to treat kidney stones.

The seeds are diuretic and can be used to treat flatulence, promote menstruation and expel parasites. An infusion of seeds can be used to treat edema, indigestion and menstrual problems.

Carrot seed blocks progesterone synthesis. Carrot seed tincture and carrot flower tincture (3 doses consisting of 15 drops of each every 8 hours) have been tested as a contraceptive. Although only around 95% effective, this may well be helpful in the absence of any other method, for example for preppers. There was no reduction in fertility after the trial was completed.

As with all plants grown for medicinal use, it’s important that organic growing methods re used, to avoid the active constituents from being destroyed or adulterated by foreign chemicals. To find out more about organic gardening, visit the Gardenzone.


The essential oil is extracted from the seed and is usually labeled Carrot or Wild Carrot. NB: Carrot seed essential oil is not suitable for use during pregnancy. A single drop taken by mouth once a day is sometimes prescribed to aid liver regeneration. Apart from this and similar specific recommendations no essential oil product should be used internally.

Carrot seed oil is mainly used for skin rejuvenation and for dry and mature skin. It is also said to relieve fatigue. It is used commercially in anti-wrinkle creams, in perfumery and as flavoring.

As with all essential oils, carrot seed essential oil should never be taken internally, even though you may see this recommended elsewhere. Essential oils are highly concentrated and can cause permanent damage if used in this way, even if you think you have diluted them. Be safe and use them as intended, in massage blends and diffusers, and keep them out of the reach of children at all times.

This post is a slightly adapted extract from “Healing Herbs for the Ornamental Garden”, which is a Kindle book. If you’d like to buy a copy (or borrow it free if you’re an Amazon Prime member) please go to Healing Herbs for the Ornamental Garden or search for it by putting B00A9HJ3QQ in your local Amazon’s search box.

Liquorice (Licorice) health benefits: for peptic, duodenal and mouth ulcers

Liquorice root is available in health stores

Liquorice root is available in health stores

Originally published on Herbal Medicine from Your Garden

Liquorice or licorice in the USA, Glycyrrhiza glabra (a subspecies, Glycyrrhiza glandulifera or Glycyrrhiza glabra var. glandulifera is grown in Russia), is well known to everybody as a common sweet or candy, though you can’t guarantee that all liquorice candies actually have very much liquorice in them. Liquorice is not related to anise hyssop (sometimes called liquorice mint).

When I was a kid, we used to buy sticks of liquorice root in the local sweet shop, and chew them, discarding the woody fibers once the taste was all gone. They lasted for a very long time, partly I suppose, because we couldn’t do a whole stick at once, unless we wanted to experience one of the most well known results of eating liquorice – diarrhea! There are other far more serious possible consequences of an overdose, see below.

Though you’d never guess to look at it, liquorice is a member of the same family as peas, beans and lentils, which means that in areas where the appropriate soil organisms are present, it should fix nitrogen from the atmosphere, making the soil richer as a result. Of course, if you’re going to use it, digging it up will probably remove most of this bounty.

Not a particularly stunning plant, but as the part used is the root, there’s no reason why you can’t tuck it away somewhere out of the limelight until it’s time to dig it up.

Liquorice is a perennial which reaches a height of 4′ (1.2m) and spreads over an area of about 3′ (1m). It needs fertile, moist but well drained soil on the sandy side, and prefers alkaline soil.

Pick off the flowers as they occur for the biggest crop of roots.

It takes 4 years to produce a quantity of roots worth digging, but as well as growing from seed you can propagate new plants from root cuttings (each of which needs to have at least one growth bud). These should be brought on in pots in a cold frame until growing away well, then transplanted to their permanent positions in Spring.

Liquorice can be invasive once established.

Although it is possible to grow this plant, given the length of time required before you can harvest it, it’s probably easier to buy liquorice root from a health store (see below). So far as I know, sweet shops no longer sell it.

Liquorice can be used as a flavoring and/or sweetener, and the leaves are used as a tea substitute in Mongolia. The root fibers can apparently be used for making wallboards and similar products!

Liquorice is not suitable for use during pregnancy (because it has a hormonal effect), by anyone suffering from high blood pressure or kidney disease, or anyone currently using digoxin-based medication. Take care not to exceed the stated dose (or eat too many liquorice candies). A large overdose can cause edema, high blood pressure and congestive heart failure.

Decoction: Add 1 tsp well-crushed root to 250ml (1 US cup, 8 fl oz) cold water in a non-metallic pan. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and continue heating for 10-15 minutes, strain off root and use the liquid hot or cold. Dosage: Up to 250ml (1 US cup, 8 fl oz) a day, split into 3 doses.

Liquorice is a soothing herb and powerfully anti-inflammatory. In Japan, it is prescribed to control chronic viral hepatitis, and there is research evidence to show its effectiveness to protect the liver in mice. It inhibits Helicobacter pylori, which makes it a useful aid in the treatment of both duodenal ulcers and peptic ulcers. It is also antispasmodic, tonic, diuretic, expectorant and laxative. Mainly used in herbal medicine to treat coughs and other bronchial conditions including asthma and bronchitis, it is also useful for allergic complaints, to help the body recover from steroid treatments, treat urinary tract infections, bladder and kidney complaints and stomach problems. As already mentioned, it’s also a pretty good laxative. It is also sometimes used to treat Addison’s disease. Externally, a root decoction can be used to treat herpes, eczema and shingles. Use as a mouthwash to treat canker sores (mouth ulcers).

Liquorice is not used in aromatherapy.

I offer a selection of liquorice products in my online shop.

If you decide to grow your own liquorice, follow the rules of organic gardening. Since the part used is the root, this is especially important to avoid foreign chemicals ending up in your remedy. To find out more about growing organic herbs visit the Gardenzone.

Meadowsweet health benefits: for gout, diarrhea and fever

Meadowsweet is a useful dye plant

Meadowsweet is a useful dye plant

Originally published on Herbal Medicine from Your Garden

Meadowsweet, Filipendula ulmaria (syn. Spiraea ulmaria and Ulmaria pentapetala – meaning five petaled), is also sometimes called bridewort, brideswort, dolloff, English meadowsweet, European meadowsweet, lady of the meadow, meadsweet (from its use to flavor mead), meadow queen, meadow-wort, pride of the meadow and queen of the meadow – which last name is shared with the totally unrelated gravel root.

Meadowsweet is a native of Europe, where it is usually found growing in wet areas, even boggy ones, though not on acid peat soils. It makes a good candidate for a bog garden, as it will grow in any neutral or alkaline soil, even heavy clay, so long as it is wet, or at least moist. It is a hardy perennial which reaches a height of around 4 feet (1.2m). It won’t grow in full shade, but then again, few plants do.

Meadowsweet is a good bee plant and seems to be offensive to deer.

Meadowsweet is an extremely useful dye plant, yielding no less than 3 different colors: use the tops with alum to produce a greenish-yellow; the roots with no mordant for black; or stems and leaves for blue (fixed by boiling the item with sorrel root after dying). It’s probably more often used in pot pourri, imparting an almond-like fragrance, and in the days when strewing was common, it was one of the herbs used for this purpose, particularly in the apartments of Queen Elizabeth I of England.

You can also use it to make meadowsweet beer: use equal quantities of meadowsweet and dandelion, double the quantity of water and boil for 20 minutes. Strain and measure the liquid, adding 900g sugar, 15g (1 ounce) yeast and the juice of 1 lemon to each 1.5L (2 lbs/19 US cups or 1 UK gallon). Ferment in the usual way.

Anybody who has a sensitivity to aspirin should not use this plant – even for beer – except under qualified supervision!

A standard infusion is made using 30g (1 ounce) of the whole dried herb (3 handfuls of fresh) to 425ml (1.75 US cups, 0.75 UK pints) of boiling water, leaving to brew for between 15 minutes and 4 hours before straining off and discarding the solid matter.

Because of the aspirin content, meadowsweet can be used internally to treat any condition that produces a fever including colds and other respiratory infections, also for inflammatory conditions like gout and rheumatic pain. It’s also useful for water retention, hyperacidity, heartburn, kidney and bladder disorders and is a well known treatment for diarrhea, particularly in children. Externally, it makes a useful wash for minor wounds and sore eyes. Registered practitioners use this plant to treat gastric and peptic ulcers, but I don’t recommend this use by amateurs.

As with all plants grown for medicinal use, Meadowsweet must ge grown organically to avoid corruption of its essential constituents. To find out more about growing organic meadowsweet visit the Gardenzone.

Horseradish health benefits: for congestion and tumors

Originally published on Herbal Medicine from Your Garden

Horseradish was once a popular accompaniment for beef

Horseradish was once a popular accompaniment for beef

Horseradish, Armoracia rusticana (and the following synonyms: Armoracia lapathifolia, Cochlearia armoracia, Nasturtium armoracia and Rorippa armoracia), is sometimes split into two words: horse radish. Apart from foreign ones, I haven’t been able to find any other names for this plant. As you can see, despite its ferocity, it’s quite an attractive plant particularly when in flower. There is also a variegated form with yellow streaked leaves, which to my mind looks as if it has some sort of disease, but to each his own.

It is one of the five bitter herbs which should be eaten at Passover in the Jewish religion (the others are coriander, horehound, lettuce and nettles).

Horseradish is in the same family as cabbage, cauliflower, mustard, turnips, swede and ordinary radishes – the brassica family (variously called Cruciferae and Brassicaceae). Because of this it cannot be grown on any land infested with club root, although its persistence makes it almost impossible to include in a rotation. It would probably be best, therefore, to designate a clean bed for permanent use as a horseradish bed, and take steps to isolate it to prevent invasion of the surrounding area.

It is a native of Europe, a hardy perennial which reaches a height of around 2’6″. It requires moist well-drained soil, but is otherwise unfussy as to type, even surviving in very alkaline soil. It will not grow in full shade.

Although the root is the part mostly used, the leaves are edible and generally used raw – very hot, so only add a little to your salad bowl until you are familiar with it. You will have to get them before the caterpillars do, anyway! But the most important product of this plant is the roots (inset in the picture), which are dug as required, and the remainder in Autumn after the foliage has died down (another good reason for designating a permanent position, as you’re unlikely to lose it). Try not to break the roots, which look a bit like parsnips or mooli radish. Leave a few pieces about 8 inches (20cm) long nicely spaced out for next year’s crop, and dig up and discard any woody roots you find.

John Lust gives this caution in his Herb Book: Do not take large quantities of horseradish at one time. Stop taking it if diarrhea or night sweating occurs.

Horseradish root can be stored in damp sand, apparently, but the traditional way is to grate it and store it in sealed jars with vinegar. Mash the root down as firmly as you can, then top off with whatever variety of vinegar you prefer. Some people add honey to this. In the UK, the results are served with roast beef as horseradish sauce, although in the US, horseradish sauce is made from grated horseradish mixed with mayonnaise which would make it a lot less pungent. Fresh British horseradish sauce must definitely be approached with caution, as even in small quantities it makes your eyes water and your nose run.

Horseradish is not just a pungent condiment, but is also antibacterial, anti-fungal and anti-tumor. It is used internally for bronchial and nasal congestion, kidney and bladder problems, internal growths and tumors, gout and rheumatism and externally as a poultice (just wrap grated root in a thin bandage and apply) for arthritis and chilblains. Used externally, horseradish sometimes causes blisters. Discontinue use if this occurs.

There are various ways of preparing horseradish for medicinal use, but the simplest is just to put it in a sandwich. The addition of some beef would make it really nice! Alternatively, you can make horseradish vinegar by covering grated root with vinegar and leaving to stand for 10 days. Strain off and discard the root. The dosage is 1 tsp in water 2-3 times a day, sweetened with honey or sugar if preferred. Another option is horseradish syrup which is made by pouring 120ml (a half US cup, 4 fl oz) boiling water over 1 tsp horseradish root and standing for 2 hours. Strain off the root and discard, then add enough sugar to turn it into a syrup (you will probably need to heat it back up to dissolve the sugar). I don’t have a dosage for this, so you will need to experiment if you decide to use it.

Being a root, organic methods of cultivation are a must, as otherwise you may get unhealthy amounts of noxious chemicals mixed in with your remedies. To find out more about growing organic horseradish visit the Gardenzone. You might also like to take a look at FoodAI’s great post on cooking with horseradish.

Rose Scented Geranium health benefits: for callouses and cracked skin

The rose scented geranium

The rose scented geranium

Originally published on Herbal Medicine from Your Garden

Rose scented geranium, Pelargonium capitatum (syn. P. drummondii), is also called wild rose geranium and must not be confused with the similarly named rose geranium (P. graveolens) and in fact, neither plant is in the genus Geranium, despite the common name.

Rose scented geranium is an evergreen (though frost tender) shrub which reaches a height and spread of 2 feet (60cm). It will grow in any type of soil so long as it is well drained, whether moist or dry. It will not grow in the shade.

The whole plant or just leaves are used for home remedies; leaves can be picked whenever needed. If you live in an area where winter is prolonged and frosty, you may wish to grow it in a pot, so that you can bring it into a cool greenhouse, porch or conservatory during the coldest months and use the leaves when they would otherwise be unavailable because of snow. The whole plant, in particular the leaves, is rose scented, so this would add fragrance to the area where you keep it (you can also dry the leaves to use in pot pourri).

Make a standard infusion from 3 handfuls of fresh leaves (in extremis you could use 30g/1 oz of dried leaves instead) added to 570ml (2.5 US cups, 1 UK pint) of boiling water. Allow to brew for between 15 minutes and 4 hours, then strain before use. The dose for internal use is up to 1 US cup (240 ml, 8 fl oz) per day, split into 3 doses.

You can use the standard infusion to treat minor digestive problems, kidney and bladder disorders. Externally, it can be used to treat rashes, callouses and cracked skin.

As with all plants grown for use in herbal remedies, rose scented geranium should be grown organically to prevent any adulteration of its active constituents. To find out more about growing organic herbs visit the Gardenzone.

Sesame health benefits: for hair loss and a herbal sunscreen

Open Sesame refers to the sudden opening of seed pods when ripe

Open Sesame refers to the sudden opening of seed pods when ripe

Originally published on Herbal Medicine from Your Garden

Sesame, Sesamum indicum but sometimes labeled Sesamum orientale, is a tropical plant which originates from India, although it is found across most of Africa and Asia. It is a tender annual which requires full sun and reaches a height of around 3 feet (1m), bearing yellow, blue or purple flowers in July.

In Britain, it is difficult to grow to maturity, although the variety “90 Day” is more likely to succeed, at least in Southern counties. It may do better under cover. It grows well in Southern United States, and is grown commercially there, principally in Texas, but as it needs moist soil, requires irrigation.

Sesame has a long history of use in Indian medicine, and is regarded as a holy plant representing Vishnu’s consort, Devi. Although we normally see creamy-white seeds on sale in the West, the color can range through to charcoal, which is the color preferred in the Far East. It is not suitable for use during pregnancy or by anyone who is diagnosed as obese.

Medicinally, the leaves, seed and oil are all used for various purposes.

Mixing the leaves with water produces mucilage which can be used to treat diarrhea and bladder problems, and is safe for infants.

The seed is very rich in nutrients, but unfortunately also in calories. A quarter of a US cup (2 fl oz, 60ml) provides 206 calories, almost 75% of the adult daily requirement of copper, and useful quantities of manganese, calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, vitamin B1, zinc and dietary fiber. In addition sesame seeds contain lignans which act as an antioxidant, lowering cholesterol and  protecting against high blood pressure.

When eaten the seed acts as a diuretic and liver/kidney tonic, promotes milk flow in nursing mothers, and is used to treat premature hair loss, constipation and osteoporosis. Externally, in the form of a poultice (made by crushing the seed and mixing with very hot water, then wrapping in a finely woven cloth), it is used to treat hemorrhoids and external ulcers.

Sesame oil, which is difficult to produce at home but can be purchased in many larger supermarkets and in some Asian grocers, can be used to promote menstruation, as a laxative and externally to treat rough skin and act as a protection against UV light.

I offer dark sesame tahini in my online shop.

Although many gardeners will have difficulty growing this plant, if you decide to do so, it’s important that you use organic methods, so that the intrinsic properties are not destroyed by foreign chemicals. To find out more about growing organic sesame visit the Gardenzone.

St John’s Wort health benefits: anti-depressant, but keep out of the sun!

Originally published on Herbal Medicine from Your Garden

St John's wort for depression

St John’s wort for depression

St John’s wort, Hypericum perforatum – sometimes labelled Hypericum vulgare, is also called goat weed, hypericum, Klamath weed and Tipton’s weed. It is an attractive perennial (hardy to zone 3) which bears yellow flowers with very prominent stamens, almost like a hibiscus, to which it is no relation. The “perforatum” part of its latin name was given because, if you hold the leaves up to the light, it looks as if they are covered in very tiny holes, like a teabag.

St John’s wort isn’t fussy about soil, so long as it is both free-draining and moisture-retaining. Incorporate plenty of organic matter to help provide both of these requirements. It will grow in semi-shade, but for the most beautiful display of flowers, find it a spot where it gets the sun all day. It can reach a height of about a meter (3′) and because it is rhizomatous, can spread over quite an area – I’ve seen banks of it growing in Jersey, Channel Islands – although individual plants only reach about 60cm (2′) in width.

Against the light, the leaf perforations are clearly visible

Against the light, the leaf perforations are clearly visible

If you’re growing it from seed, these should be sown as soon as they are ripe in a greenhouse or heated propagator at a temperature of 10ºC (50ºF); they can take anything from 1-3 months to germinate, so don’t give up on them too soon. Once the seedlings are big enough, prick them out into individual pots and grow them on under cover until spring, when they can be planted in their final positions. Existing plants can also be propagated by division in spring or autumn.

Wear gloves when you handle it, as the sap may cause skin allergies and sometimes also causes photo-sensitivity. This is interesting, as sunburn is one of the conditions for which it may be used as a treatment.

St John’s wort is well known as an anti-depressant (with a 67% success rate, which is pretty good), but unfortunately there are important exclusions, which you need to pay attention to:

  1. It is not suitable for use during pregnancy.
  2. Don’t take it if you are using oral contraceptives, as St John’s Wort stops them working.
  3. Don’t sunbathe, and in particular don’t use an electric sunbed or solarium if you are taking St John’s wort, as there have been reports by some people of greatly increased risks of burning.


The plant is banned from cultivation in certain countries. Check local laws first! In Germany, the herb is actually prescribed for depression, but herbalists use it mainly for neuritis (inflammation of the nerves). Because it helps prevent hemorrhages, it was once prescribed for patients convalescing after surgery. Other conditions which can be treated with St John’s wort include bedwetting, bladder problems and diarrhea.

For all these ailments, make a standard infusion using 2-3 teaspoonfuls of fresh or 1-2 teaspoonfuls of chopped flowering tops to a cup of boiling water. Leave to infuse for at least 10 minutes before straining.

The same infusion can also be used externally when cool to treat blisters, scalds and minor wounds, as well as sunburn.

I offer various St John’s wort products in my online shop.

As with all herbs grown for remedial use, St John’s Wort should be grown organically to avoid taking in noxious chemicals along with the remedy. To find out more about growing organic St John’s wort, visit the Gardenzone.