Out of sorts? Feeling a little dejected? Zveraboy -also called St John’s Wort or goatweed – may be what you need!
You probably have some growing near you!
Larissa has been taking zveroboy from the field by the lake, on our way back from swimming. She hangs it from an attic rafter to dry, and then strips flowers and leaves, crumbles them, and adds all but the little stems to her Tasty Tonic Tea.
It’s a yellow flower with five petals making the shape of a star. The tops and bottoms of the petals have dots on the edges, while the leaves have translucent marks as if they were perforated.
St John’s Wort was used during Midsummer’s celebrations around the summer solstice to ward off evil spirits. Later, Christians celebrating St John the Baptist’s birthday the same day, placed sprigs above icons to protect the saints from the Devil and his minions.
The first word in its Latin name, hypericum, was Greek for ‘over an apparition’ as a little bit was thought enough to drive away evil spirits. The second word perforatum refers to the perforated appearance of its leaves, supposedly pierced by an angry devil.
An article by the US National Institutes of Health, National Center for Complementary and Alternate Medicine, said St Johns Wort... ‘may be useful for minor forms of depression’ ... and the Mayo Clinic gives a qualified endorsement, indicating it can be of value. People also use it to ward off infection and other skin problems.
I only sip a little tonic tea, as it may reduce the effect of my anti-coagulant Warfarin (called Coumadin in America)and is believed to weaken the action of other prescription drugs. So, go carefully!
Zveroboy is one of many panaceas for whatever ails you. Baikal, the Russian natural soft drink includes it. It has been used as medicine since ancient Greece.
In 1696 it was introduced to Pennsylvania, spreading all the way to California by 1893. St John’s Wort, the same as what’s called Klamath Weed in the American west, has a component that makes livestock – people, too! –photosensitive if too much is eaten, causing skin and mouth blistering which kills the appetite. Five million acres eventually became worthless for sheep and cattle grazing.
Biological control came to the rescue with imported Chrysoline Beetles, now called Klamath Beetles, which gained the reputation of being Weed Wallopers ! Now in Arcata California there’s a statue honoring them, built in gratitude by Humbolt County ranchers.
It’s good to get out in the fields among the wildflowers, birds, and fresh air... so try gathering some of your own zveroboy, and make a herbal hodgepodge tea as Larissa does. Just watch out for snakes, mosquitoes, and stinging bees!
When you get back from your outing, you can even add Zveroboy Bitters to your evening drink!
Interesting Reading [blue hot link]
PBS Scientific American, Nature Vs. Nature, Monumental Success.
Euglossine Bee, Klamath Weed
Comox Valley Naturalists Society St. John's-wort and the Klamath Weed Beetle Jocie Ingram.
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