When a herb’s medicinal traditions go back hundreds of years, there’s a good reason for its popularity. St John’s Wort’s history goes back to 400 BC and its therapeutic uses can help your dog as well.
The Ancient Greeks and Romans used St John’s Wort to treat a myriad of health conditions … from snake bites and digestive issues to depression and wound healing. In the Middle Ages its magical powers helped ward off evil and protect against disease. And you could predict your longevity by hanging a sprig of the plant near your bed overnight. If it withered, your chances for a long life were not good.
Today, it’s most famous as a natural substitute for Prozac in treating depression.
St John’s Wort got its name because it blooms around June 24th, the Feast Day of St John the Baptist.
St John’s Wort grows in fields, along river banks, ocean shores and anywhere there’s poor soil. If it grows where you live, harvest it when the flowers are in full bloom. The flowers, leaves and stem are all used medicinally. Try to use it as soon as you can after you harvest it as it’s best when it’s fresh. Later on I’ll share a how to make a solar oil infusion you can use for topical purposes.
Healing Properties Of St John’s Wort
The primary constituents in St John’s Wort’s flowers, leaves and stem are:
- flavonoids (immune-balancing)
- quinones (anti-tumor)
- polyphenols and tannins (antioxidants)
Together these equal some pretty powerful health benefits for your dog. St John’s Wort’s many healing properties include:
Let’s focus on the many therapeutic uses for the herb itself.
4 Reasons To Use St John’s Wort For Dogs
#1 Calm And Soothe Anxiety
Thanks to its anti-depressant properties, St John’s Wort can calm anxiety.
Studies show that it’s as effective as standard anti-depressants like Prozac, but without the side effects.
- Use it before and after surgery to soothe your dog
- Combine with valerian to treat separation anxiety
- Blend it with other similar herbs for a gentle, effective calming formula when your dog is anxious. Try skullcap, chamomile and passionflower
- If your dog gets car sick, give it before a car ride to calm the nerves and soothe an upset, nervous stomach
Give it as a tincture, 12 drops per 20 lbs of body weight, twice a day.
You can also use St John’s Wort flower essence to relieve insomnia, nightmares and night sweats.
#2 Relieve Pain
St John’s Wort is also a celebrated pain reliever. As a nervine tonic it works well with injuries to calm nerve endings. It can also prevent inflammation.
St John’s Wort penetrates deep into muscles to reach nerve endings and release throbbing tension.
Use it to:
- Manage arthritis and joint pain
- Calm the nerves after a bee sting or bug bite
- Soothe the sting of cuts or wounds
- Calm inflamed tissue and inflammation in the nervous system and spinal cord
#3 Disinfect Wounds
St John’s Wort is effective against all kinds of bacteria, fungus and viruses. It’s ideal for disinfecting and for natural wound care, including:
- Cleaning bacteria from scrapes and scratches
- Healing hot spots
- Healing and soothing burns
For first aid, apply it directly to the wound (as a salve, tincture or oil infusion). Add some calendula to speed up healing.
[Related] Does your dog have an open wound? Here are some ways to help it heal.
#4 Manage Dandruff Or Oily Skin
Added to shampoo as a tea infusion, the astringent properties in St John’s Wort can help with oily fur and dandruff.
Gently simmer 1 oz of fresh or dry herbs in 4 oz water for 20 minutes. Strain and add to a natural shampoo.
Make A Solar Infusion
A solar oil infusion of St John’s Wort is the perfect base for many different remedies. You can use this medicinal oil for salves or as a massage oil for inflamed nerves and sore muscles.
- Cut your St John’s Wort and ensure it’s dry.
- Place loosely in a glass jar, then add extra virgin olive oil to ½ inch from the top of the jar.
- Stir with a clean, dry utensil to release any air bubbles. Seal and label with the ingredients and date.
- Leave outdoors in direct sunlight for 30 days. The heat inside a window can be too intense but the south side of your property on a table or rock will work nicely.
- After 30 days, strain and place the infusion in a clean jar; label and store for future use. You can compost your plant material.
People have used St John’s Wort safely for over 2,000 years. Still, it can interact with several types of pharmaceuticals. Before using it, check with your veterinarian or herbalist about any contraindications. Make sure that you mention it if you’re ever asked for your dog’s medical history or if he’s on any current meds.
Avoid using St John’s Wort for 48 hours before surgery as it may strengthen the effects of anesthesia. In rare cases, some animals can develop a photosensitive rash (similar to sunburn) from it. Use extra caution if your dog is white, has white or pink skin pigment or a short coat. If a rash develops, keep your dog out of sunlight and discontinue use.