Solar Blessings: Handcrafted St. John’s Wort Oil, Deeply Penetrating Herbal Healing

by Amber Magnolia Hill on August 16, 2012

These 4oz bottles of organic St. John’s Wort body oil are now available in the shop!

As you can see, I rocked the shit out of my little river photo shoot the other night. Not that I can take credit for this gorgeous image. It’s all the oil, the river, and especially the sunshine. I can’t help but feel that the red sunlight fairies that showed up in these photos are little blessings on this whole endeavor, some sort of magical infusion gifted from the sun at this final step of the months-long medicine making process.

You can read a full description of this medicine’s many beneficial properties within the Etsy listing, but I will include a short list of them here:

❤ carries the properties of the full summer sun with it into the body’s tissues

❤ deeply relaxing to sore and stressed muscles

❤ quickly penetrates, strengthens, and nourishes the nerves to alleviate short or long-term nerve damage and pain

❤ warms and calms the entire body

❤ soothes and heals bumps, bruises, sprains, burns, etc.

I’ve been promising a post on the whole process for a while now, so here it is. To be sure, it’s the same process as the homemade lavender oil I posted about a while back, but it bears repeating. Homemade herbal medicine is so simple and beneficial, I’ll do whatever I can to teach others how to do it :-)

It all started on the Summer Solstice back in June, when Mycelia and I set out to harvest more St. John’s Wort (hypericum perforatum) than we have in years past, while being sure to leave enough for it to re-seed and continue to flourish here. My sister Lacey also helped with the gathering.

You know you’ve got the right plant when bruising it leaves deep red marks on your fingers. This is from the hypericin, the active medicinal compound that turns the tincture and the oil made from the plant the incredible red color that it’s famous for..


On a mission.

When we got home I quickly got to work chopping up the herb into as many small pieces as possible; the more surface area of the plant material that comes into contact with the medium extracting its medicinal properties (in this case, the organic olive oil), the stronger the medicine will be.

Next the oil is poured over the top of the herb, which has already been placed into the steeping container. Herbalists differ in the herb-to-oil ratio they use. I tend to be pretty free form with it and just put as much plant material as I’ve got into the jar, then add the oil. You want to fill the jar to the very, very top, leaving zero room for air once the lid has been put on. So the top of the oil is touching the bottom of the lid. No air = no mold. Slowly stirring a chopstick through before you top it off will bring any air bubbles up to the surface, and you also want to remove the lid every few days to see if more oil needs to be added (it has a sneaky way of lowering once the steeping process begins).

When all was said and done, I had 5 gallons! I like to steep my herbs for one full moon cycle. This year the Solstice coincided with the new moon, so the oil brewed between the June and July new moons.

The infusing process with St. John’s Wort is more visually rewarding to behold than with any other herbal medicine, due to the ruby red hue that the hypericin imparts to the liquid medium over time. It is truly satisfying to watch the liquid redden more day by day. (This is true for making it into a tincture for internal use as well, see my Etsy listing for more on what it is about this herb that makes it good for depression when taken internally and warming and relaxing when used externally).

When it was time to strain out the oil, Lacey and my friend Sarah were here to help. I gathered all the kitchen funnels I’ve got, along with some cheesecloth (though I learned from this experience that I prefer cotton muslin), and we got to work.

After the straining out (putting a large beach towel under the whole scene turned out to be a very good idea), I poured all five gallons into an eight gallon container to ensure that it was all evened out and each bottle would yield the exact same medicine.

The differences in color are due to the thickness of the oil. A gallon is deep red, a half gallon is jewel-hued and less opaque, and the 4oz bottles look more orange than red in some light.

I ordered the labels on Etsy and am very happy with how they turned out. The text reads: Gathered on the Summer Solstice at peak potency, this ruby-hued body oil is pure liquid sunshine. Deeply relaxing and warming to the musculature and nervous system, use it for isolated aches and pains or for total body realignment after a bustling day.

Here’s the current scene in my kitchen window. It brings me much joy to look at every day.

Once again, you can read more about the healing properties of this oil and perhaps purchase a bottle (at a very reasonable price) here ❤ 


LOCALS: Message me if you’d like to meet up in person to get your bottle. You can either pay me in person then or pay via Etsy by using coupon code SUNSHINE at checkout, which will remove the shipping cost for your order.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Missa August 17, 2012 at 1:07 am

So beautifully executed Amber! From the story and photos of the harvest to that amazing image of the bottle glowing by the river. Nicely done! Oh, and your etsy description totally has me sold, can’t wait to try it out. On me, but even more so on Lucas who I think it could really benefit.


marygood August 17, 2012 at 10:45 am

just how magical this oil is takes no explanation…the solar light just jumps off the screen! i imagine the oil is also infused with your own joy and giddiness that you must have imparted every time you looked at that window scene! like a treasure chest full of rubies. i made a klamath weed infusion at the solstice, but just one little jar…but it feels like having my own pot of gold. thank you for sharing your process and method.

also, i wanted to give you a “psst…”


Ruth August 21, 2012 at 6:12 am

nice one! I will definately feature this post on my site after learning how to do the same with pine needles years ago from you (which by the way, gives the olive oil a beautiful green hue) and loving the process. just one question though…should the clear glass bottles be left in the sun like that on your window sill? in time wouldn’t the uv light destroy the medicinal properties and bleach the colour out? xo Ruth


anne August 21, 2012 at 11:46 am

so awesome! i loved reading about the process and the first picture is perfect. i really want to get a bottle, hopefully i can soon!


Amber Magnolia Hill August 21, 2012 at 6:22 pm

Ruth, that window actually gets no direct sunlight, and I just put them there for the photo op :-)


Wolf August 22, 2012 at 1:39 pm

Very nice work, Amber! Your oil (we call it Rotoel = Red Oil in German) apparently has become the same dazzling glow that I get when I process the plants growing next to my place in the same way.
I only suggest humbly: be careful when you handle the herbs with bare hands. Please don’t expose your skin areas that had contact to herbal saps to the sun afterwards. Some (most?) people get seriously burned this way. It’s a kind of photosensitisation.
Cheers, Wolf
Freiburg, Germany


melissa September 10, 2012 at 7:46 pm

Just bought one!


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