Dr. Clarke, however, gives another explanation of the derivation. He claims it comes from hypo-below or sub-and erica- meaning heather- therefore sub-heather, indicating its relation to Ledum-the marsh heath-which is also of great use in certain types of wounds. I am not an authority on derivations of words, or a philologist; so I prefer the more romantic explanation of the fear this St. Johns Wort was said to cast over evil spirits.

MANY large cities all over the globe are being evacuated for fear of the wrath which falls from the skies from the hosts of iron-clad locusts whose sting is in their tails. In this general disruption and compulsory abandonment of unnecessary luxuries, one wishes that people would give up and learn to do without their dopes, the many artefacts of chemicals, the concentrated products, obtained from the distillation of coal tar, the vaccines, serums and animal gland extracts; all these 1,000 and one evil brews and injections which the modern doctor and his deluded victims so firmly believe in, as being necessary to their welfare; the action of which in the human bodies are uncertain, unknown and so often start a trail of unsuspected prolonged human illness.

Yes, I repeat it, I wish they would give up these expensive and dangerous chemicals as being unnecessary luxuries of our over-refined civilization and go back again to the simple products of good old mother earth. We are told to grow more food; we should also be told and it should be impressed upon us to make more use of the herbs growing in our hedgerows, in our woods and fields and meadows. Some will object and say we should not go back, we should go forward, “New things are best.” But are they?

Each new generation as it comes along, refuses to learn from the mistakes of the preceding one and prefers to make its own mistakes, to be in due course jostled aside and considered old fashioned by its pregnancy, of impatient and intolerant youth. No, it would truly be a step in the right direction, it would mean real progress, if we went back to nature and learnt from her the hidden secrets of nature and science. Yes,.

“Excellent herbs had our fathers of old,

Excellent herbs to ease their pain,

Alexanders and marigold.

Eyebright, orris and elecampane,

Basil, rocket, valerian, rue

(Almost singing themselves they run),

Vervain, dittery, Call me to you,

Cowslip, melilot, rose-of-the-sun;

Anything green that grew out of the mould,

Was an excellent herb to our fathers of old.”.

Thus sang our epic empire-builder, Rudyard Kipling, who first drew the attention of our parish-pump politicians to the great advantages and the hidden riches of our vast dominions and colonies, and opened their eyes to what had been so sadly neglected for many years. He has still a great deal to teach us. We have still to learn to make more use of the hidden store of health-giving herbs and plants.

Have you ever wondered what brave soul it was who first ventured on using any of the herbs? The use of herbs goes back to hoary antiquity; and the fate of the first victims has long been forgotten. But the medicine men and the wise women of the past depended on certain marks and signs which they knew of, from which to choose the particular herb for a particular ailment.

They called these marks “the doctrine of signatures”, and they believed that a benevolent Godhead had placed certain marks on plants to point the way and show the initiated priest the priest being usually also the doctor of the tribe for what organ it was most suitable. Kidney-shaped leaves meant the plant was to be used in kidney troubles; yellow sap and juice in a plant told him that it was most suitable for bilious troubles and liver affections; heart-shaped leaves pointed to relief in heart diseases.

However much we may laugh at these ideas nowadays, they are not any more illogical than our modern beliefs that a certain drug or dope will be a cure-all because Sir Somebody or other says so or because Mr. John Moneybags from Moneybags Chemical Factory has printed glowing accounts of it in his catalogue and sent a traveller with a persuasive tongue to tell us so.

And after all, this doctrine of signatures did work in a good many cases for centuries, our modern wonder-working drugs frequently last only a few months, or at the best a few years. The doctrine of signatures only pointed the way; the proof of the pudding was in the eating. For instance, the greater celandine or Chelidonium was recommended as a remedy in jaundice hundreds of years ago by Galen and Dioscorides because of the signature of its yellow bile-like juice.

And it does work well in certain cases of jaundice and liver as well as in spleen and kidney affections. And there are many other cases of this, of the truth indwelling in this doctrine of signatures. But to say that Homoeopathy is entirely based and only based on the “signature” is absurd; and the well-known consulting physician who made this statement publicly in a lecture merely exposed his colossal ignorance when he said this.

He had met his homoeopathic colleagues in consultation, he patted himself on the back for being so broad-minded, but he had no time and no inclination apparently to verify his facts or even glance at the most elementary of the homoeopathic textbooks to learn what constituted a homoeopathic medicine and why it was homoeopathic. For instance, St. Johns Wort, or Hypericum perforatum, was declared to be a herb for wounds, because of its pellucid or transparent dots which are really oil glands on its leaves; you can see them, if you hold the leaves up to the light.

Because of these transparent spots or perforations and because the leaves were lance-shaped, the herb was called wound wort. Many superstitions are attached to this plant from ancient times. Hypericum is of Greek derivation and means” over an apparition”; for the populace believed that evil spirits hated this plant so much that even a mere whiff would send them flying.

Dr. Clarke, however, gives another explanation of the derivation. He claims it comes from hypo-below or sub-and erica- meaning heather- therefore sub-heather, indicating its relation to Ledum-the marsh heath-which is also of great use in certain types of wounds. I am not an authority on derivations of words, or a philologist; so I prefer the more romantic explanation of the fear this St. Johns Wort was said to cast over evil spirits.

Nicholas Culpepper, the well-known herbalist and author of herbals, lived 300 years ago in or near London, and was in great demand for his knowledge on matters of physic. He was called an “old rogue”; but he was neither old, as he died when he was thirty-nine years of age, nor was he a rogue. For he prescribed gratis to the poor and needy in a generous fashion. And he also said that physicians had for their assistance the liberality of nature in providing them with medicines which may be found anywhere and could be prepared for use with a little art.

Probably that was the reason why he was called a rogue by his learned colleagues, who preferred more noxious and dangerous draughts to his simples, Culpepper also mentions Hypericum in his herbal, and explains the name “St. Johns Wort” in the following quaint manner: “It may be if you meet with a Papist that is also an astrologer, he will tell you that St. John made it over to him by a letter of attorney, especially if withal he be a lawyer.

Also St. Johns Wort is a singular wound herb as any other whatsoever, either for inward wounds, hurts or bruises, to be boiled in wine and drunk, or prepared into an ointment, bath or lotion outwardly”.

In spite of the authority of Galen and Dioscorides and of the more recent Culpepper, the homoeopaths did not take anything for granted; they tested out this herb, well known from antiquity, on healthy provers and found that the recommendations of the ancients were correct; it was truly a wonderful wound herb.

Now for a few specific examples of the way it works.

A horsekeeper working in large stables came to the hospital many years ago with a poisoned thumb, due to the bite of one of his horses. The thumb was very swollen and painful, the swelling had gone up the wrist and nearly up to the elbow; the pains were shooting up the arm with great violence. Not at all a pretty case, in fact, under orthodox treatment, it would have meant several operations and probably loss of the arm.

He was given some Hypericum 30 internally four hourly, his thumb was put into a warm Hypericum bath for half an hour, which relieved it greatly, and he was sent home with a Hypericum compress on thumb and on arm, with the instructions to keep the dressings moist by pouring on Hypericum lotion, a few drops at a time, every two hours or whenever it felt dry. He returned 24 hours later, the swelling up the arm had receded, the shooting pains had disappeared.

His thumb required Hypericum dressings for over a week; but it healed up nicely, no stiffness remained afterwards; the movements of the thumb were perfectly normal. In fact he had a 100 percent, useful hand and thumb. An excellent result! and of great importance to one who depended on a freely mobile thumb and fingers for earning his daily bread, and to me who was still only a young house surgeon somewhat of a miracle.

I had seen other cases at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary who had not come off so lightly. A bite right down to the bone of the thumb followed by a septic infection of the tendons and a spreading cellulitis and infection of the lymph channels is not a joke and is frequently followed by stiff joints and fingers. Therefore give praise, where praise is due, to this ancient herb, the St. Johns Wort.

Soon after a young lad came to the casualty with the skin of the palm and the back of his hand nearly torn off in ribbons. His hand was put in a warm Hypericum bath for half an hour. He worked in a machine shop and his hands were oily and greasy; then the skin was carefully placed back on his hand and stitched wherever necessary.

He had some 14 or 15 stitches put in, then a warm compress of Hypericum was applied and he was sent out with his hand in a sling. He did not go septic except for one small stitch abscess, and he healed up beautifully in record time. Of course he was also given Hypericum m four hourly.

These cases show you that Hypericum is the thing for lacerated wounds, for bites which have becomes inflamed and septic. I should not like to say in how many cases of crushed fingers and lacerated toes I have used Hypericum externally as well as internally with the greatest of relief to the sufferer.

I remember a soldier with an amputation of the leg below the knee; he suffered agonies in his stump, shooting, darting pains up the leg to the thigh. Hypericum 30 in repeated doses cured these agonizing pains in the scar of the stump.

I remember, too, a country woman who had to go nearly 1/4 mile to the village pump in order to fetch the daily quota of water; one day while fetching the water in her buckets, she slipped on the wet slimy stones near the pump and sat on her coccyx, the tail bone. She had excruciating pains shooting up her spine and great stiffness; Hypericum 30, two hourly, and later four hourly, and then three times a day, as the pains got easier, helped her and cured her completely without hindering her in her daily work at all.

Now, coccalgia or pain in the coccyx or tailbone, is very common in women, specially after childbirth, and this pain and soreness remains for years. I have met many women suffering from this disability; they go from hospital to hospital and in orthodox textbooks you are told that very little can be done for these women; even removal of the coccyx is only of temporary benefit; psychological treatment may do some good, they say.

Well, Hypericum given early on will be of the greatest benefit and I have seen not a few women who after being given Hypericum, exclaim joyfully that the back does not give any more trouble, and , as one added, “It is so simple, why was I not given this medicine before?”.

Hypericum is the simillimum for spinal concussion, railway spine, bruising of the spinal cord and meninges due to jars and falls, and would save many a workman from months of ill-health and loss of work, if it was known and given freely, internally of course. A young woman fell down a few steps and in trying to save herself gave her shoulder a terrific wrench.

For months this was followed by acute pains of the nerves of the right arm, and severe neuritis. She had treatment in hospital, heat treatment, massage and baths of various descriptions; nothing seemed to help. She came along and had Hypericum 30 three times a day; in a week she was nearly well; in less than a month she was completely cured, after months of suffering and treatment elsewhere.

Dr. Guernsey, a well-known homoeopathist of many years ago, relates how he cured a boy who developed tetanus lockjaw after being bitten by a pet on his third finger. His teeth were firmly locked, he could not speak, his neck was so stiff that he could hardly move the head, although he was quite conscious. Hypericum 500, dissolved in water, at first every fifteen minutes, then every two hours, improved him so rapidly that within twelve hours he was convalescent.

The orthodox school always uses anti-tetanus injections in nearly every case of wounds due to falls, and larger doses of anti-tetanus serum if lockjaw actually sets in; and yet they do not always save all their cases of lockjaw. Scattered here and there in the homoeopathic literature are other cases of tetanus who received Hypericum and were cured so rapidly that it almost seemed impossible, that it really had been such a serious and fatal complaint as tetanus. And albeit so simple, just the old, despised herb, Hypericum, which grows freely in uncultivated ground, roadsides, meadows, woods and hedges. The railway sidings in Surrey and Kent are rampant with it.

A friend of mine accidentally upset a large jar of strong Lysol, which sprayed her cheeks, just missing her eyes by nothing. She was taken home at once and tepid Hypericum lotion was applied to the face, the dressing repeatedly moistened with it. The pain was relieved immediately, and no blisters developed, no sepsis followed, there was no scarring consequently, and she was back in the Dispensary the next day, to everybodys surprise.

I have much cause personally to be grateful to Hypericum, which saved me from serious trouble, as I have told in these columns before, when I was in the mountains in Switzerland, twenty miles from the railway station, and I developed a septic toe with a rapidly spreading cellulitis up the foot and leg. I had no antiseptics, no dressings, only clean handkerchiefs and my case of medicines.

A friend was sent out to collect the local variety of Hypericum the mountain St. Johns Wort the whole plant was steeped in water and after simmering it for ten minutes the resulting infusion was poured off and the handkerchief soaked in it and wrung out and applied to the toe and foot.

The inflammation was quickly relieved, the cellulitis disappeared and in twenty-four hours I was able to put my foot to the ground and limp about. The septic toe took several days to heal, but the pyaemia and systemic poisoning cleared remarkably quickly. There was one casualty, however, my handkerchief never regained its pristine whiteness, and had to be cast aside, as it remained a dirty greenish colour in spite of many boilings.

I much prefer Hypericum tincture applied locally to any of the modern antiseptics; it does not destroy the healthy tissues and healthy cells; it cleans up dirty, septic wounds; it eases the inflammations in septic fingers, in boils, and in cellulitis and lymphangitis, lacerated, crushed fingers and hands remain clean and heal rapidly; and it prevents tetanus when given internally; it acts magically in injuries and jars to parts richly supplied with nerves such as the spine and tips of fingers, neuritis following on wounds from splinters, dog bites, horse bites and rat bites, wounds from treading on pins and rusty nails. It is a real wound-wort, a faithful friend.

Dorothy Shepherd
Dorothy Shepherd 1885 – 1952 - British orthodox physician who converted to homeopathy. Graduated from Hering College in Chicago. She was a pupil of J.T.Kent. Author of Magic of the Minimum Dose, More Magic of the Minimum Dose, A Physician's Posy, Homeopathy in Epidemic Diseases.