How to make St. John’s Wort Infused Oil

Have you earned your foraging badge yet?

If not, this is the time of year to do it.  If you don’t have space (or time) for a garden – like me! – the summer is your chance to get fresh plants for free.

I recently went to a friend’s house in the country for a day of foraging.  Ok, the foraging was more of an excuse to spend time in the sunshine, catch up and have a picnic.  But I came home with two big bags full of plants for projects.

One bag was full of St. John’s Wort (hypericum perforatum).  This stuff is gorgeous.  Bright yellow flowers, and leaves perforated with little holes when you hold them up to the light (hence, the perforatum in the name).

You also wouldn’t know, but when you crush the plant, it leaves a bright red oil on your fingers.  This is the stuff we want.

You’ve probably heard of St. John’s Wort.  It’s one of the most commonly used plants in mainstream alternative medicine (ie, what you can find in the local drugstore/pharmacy) along with aloe, chamomile, peppermint and arnica.  It’s often taken internally as pills, a tincture or tea for mild depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder (more on that subject this winter!).  But one of it’s most popular traditional uses is as an oil that you apply topically.

St. John’s Wort oil is one of the best homemade products to keep in your herbal first aid kit.  Make some.  Really.

Why?  It’s one of the best wound-healers in the plant world.  It’s also great at relieving nerve-related pain, so is good for bumps, strains, sore backs, sore joints etc.  It’s suggested as soothing & healing for sunburns, and also for swollen glands.  Just massage a small amount into the affected area several times per day.   (These herbal medicine facts are taken from books by Maria Treben and Thomas Bartram, two of my favorite herbal resources!)

If you’re really getting into herbal infused oils but don’t have any St. Johns Wort, you could also try making daisy infused oil.


St. John’s Wort Oil

You need:

St. Johns Wort flowering tops (the flowers and a couple inches of the plant itself.  Best picked at the peak of blossoming, in the sunshine to intensify the natural oils.)

Enough olive oil to cover them

A jar with a lid



Make sure there are no little bugs on your St. John’s Wort.  You can do this by shaking the plants and leaving them to sit in a sunny area for an hour or so.

Put the flowering tops in a jar. Press them down.

Cover with olive oil.  This is the trickiest part – you have to have all of the plant covered with oil or it might mold!  As long as all of the flowers are covered with oil, you’ll be fine.

LABEL THE JAR.  Always always always.  You will forget what it is otherwise.

Set in a sunny window for at least 2 weeks.  4 weeks is better.  You want the oil to take on a bright red color.

Now strain out the flowers.  I do this with a strainer over a bowl.  First pour all the flowers into the strainer, then squeeze out the remaining oil with your hands.  This is the fun part!

Pour into clean, dark bottles.  It’s always best to store oil in a dark bottle, it preserves it better.  Of course, if you don’t have a dark bottle, just keep it in a dark cupboard.

The oil should last for at least a year.

How to use: just rub a small amount into affected area several times per day.

Remember: with any homemade product, you should test it on a small area first before applying to your whole body!!  St. John’s Wort can interfere with prescription medications (like contraceptive pills) when taken internally.  So don’t eat this oil.  Not that you would anyway.

14 Responses to How to make St. John’s Wort Infused Oil

  1. E C Nielsen says:

    why would I not want to take St. John’s Wort oil, made this way, internally? what harm would it do, especially if I’m not taking any pharmaceutical medications of any kind?

    • Be very careful about ingesting any infused oil made from fresh material! Usually dried herbs are used for stuff you’re going to eat because of the danger of bacterial growth, most especially botulism, which shows no signs (unlike mold or fungus, for example). I definitely would not recommend eating this oil. Wash your hands after using it, too, just to be on the safe side. I’ve used infused St. John’s Wort oil externally for many years without any problems, and with great effects. Hope this helps.

  2. amanda says:

    Apologies for butting in but just wanted to say thanks from one amanda to another, and also that you can use the oils around the wound while it is open which will seep into where it is needed and be sometimes more efficacious. I applied this oil to my brothers neck when he had it sliced open at the throat for a neck surgery and now he has no scar, he often jokes he quite wanted a remnant of his injury, like a herman munster type look as a reminder , but there is no hint of a scar. Amazing stuff. Thanks again. Please feel free to look at my FB page at Amandawrighthealth and maybe we can link your blog to my website. blessings. Amanda

  3. Sue says:

    Perhaps a dumb question, but since this is made with olive oil, can you cook with it also?

    • Amanda says:

      I haven’t heard of using SJW infused oil used for cooking. I would not take this oil internally personally as I haven’t heard of traditional uses like that.

  4. I took a few drops of St. John’s essential oil in my drinking water. How safe is this?

    • Amanda says:

      Essential oil is NOT the same as this infused oil above. Essential oils are extremely strong and concentrated, and should NOT be used internally unless you have had training in internal usage and buy 100% pure high-quality oils.

  5. Amanda Lynn says:

    Hi, I have what I thought was St. John’s but it does not seem to leak any red oil when crushed? Do I have the wrong plant? Are there any it can be mistaken for?

  6. Treay Cohen says:

    The late Hannah Kroeger, the famed American Herbalist, recommended putting this oil on any area of the spine which had had a Chiropractic manipulation. It helped ‘set’ the manipulation. It is very efficacious on back aches, anyway.

  7. Pamela Austin says:

    Hi, I would like to say how much I have enjoyed reading your site 🙂 I belong to an Anglo Saxon re-enactment group and have just taken over the job of ‘wise woman’ and have been looking a tradtional methods of using herbs for healing and found so much information on here to help me……just of to pick me some daisy to make a salve.

    Thank you


    • Amanda says:

      Hi Pamela, so glad you found me and that you’re finding it useful! Would love to hear how your daisy salve turns out, or any other herbal questions you might have! Amanda

  8. Raelynn says:

    Is this an oil that can be put on open wounds (papercuts, scrapes, etc.)? Or is it anything with olive oil should be kept away from open skin? Do you have any suggestions for natural alternatives for minor cuts and scrapes?
    (Sorry, a lot of questions from a first time commenter, just so very interested <3)

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Raelynn, glad you’re liking the blog! I actually don’t put any of my homemade salves/oils on open wounds. There are certain herbs that should not be used on broken skin, and since I’m never 100% sure, I play it safe and NEVER put homemade oils on broken skin. Wait until they heal over for a day or two, and then you’ll find the oils/salves very useful to speed healing and reduce scarring.