Boneset and St. John's Wort Salve

May 13 / Matthew Wood, MS
Oh no! In order to use this remarkable salve, the maker (Jan Marie Martell, of Vancouver, BC) is going to have to destroy the beautiful and magical "crystallization" that occurred in the center of the salve jar! This reminds us of the crystallization effects obtained by Lili Kolisko in her experiments with plants and "astrological influences," or natural EMFs if you prefer. But who knows.

The salve was made from Boneset and St. John's Wort.

The former has been used from time immemorial by the Native Peoples of northeastern North America as a bone healing remedy. The name is a translation of Algonquin language words meaning "bone, to repair," as one man on the White Earth reservation told me, or "bone-mend" as I was told by another from central Michigan. It was also used for fevers with shakes and chills with aches and pains in the bones, leading to another name, "Ague Weed," that is, "Chill/Fever Herb." Unfortunately, a white professor know-it-all declared in the early nineteenth century that the name Boneset did not refer to its use in setting bones, but in setting the bones at rest during yellow fever and other "intermittent" fevers (where there are chills and fevers alternating). It is correct that it was used for yellow fever in Pennsylvania at the opening of the Revolutionary War - tough times - but that should not limit its use. This is not an example of "cultural appropriation" but of something worse, arrogance and ignorance combined. I have used Boneset myself for chills alternating with fever, occurring at regular intervals (this specification of the original symptom comes from homeopathy, which uses Eupatorium perfoliatum just like the herbalists). I have also used it myself for dull, achiness––am I sick? am I getting sick?––when the chills and fever are not well marked. I remember one case where the man had chills and fever following a medical operation for hernia. The chill/fever went away within the day and the next morning a little stitch was found extruding from the incision—it had not dissolved but evidently set up an infection. So there is an element of internal purification with Boneset that we also see in its cousin Gravel Root (Eupatorium purpureum). The latter I call the great "hater of pus." I've seen it stop Crohn's disease in its tracks. But getting back to bones: it is an excellent mender of broken bones, helps them get into the right place, increases circulation to and around the bone, opens the capillary bed to lubricate the bone (Gravel Root does this more generally), dissolves unhealthy calcification and lays down new, healthy bone.

The testimony that Boneset is for bone-healing I have from numerous of my native friends and many white herbalists as well, who learned of this application mostly from me. My friend Herbalist Richard Riordan, of Pasadena, learned about it "from the name." He cured a horse that had osteomalacia (dissolved, missing bone) four inches long by putting the leaves in the feed trough. It will help most connective tissue. Phyllis Light, of Arab, AL, was taught by her Creek grandmother to use Boneset for bone-healing. "Why do we need Comfrey?" she thought when she first heard of that remedy (Phyllis and I will be discussing bone-healing remedies in a future edition of Herbs A to Z). Tsalagi herbalist Sondra Boyd exchanged stories with me. Even my "second mother," Rosalie Wahl, of Lake Elmo, Minnesota, had heard of Boneset for bone-healing. She grew up along the Kansas-Oklahoma boundary like my father. Later she became a Minnesota Supreme Court justice. (See our free "Kansas Boyhood Dog Stories" with my father for reminiscences of old times in that area).

I have lots of experience using St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum) - I guess we can call these two herbs the "perforation kids" - but mine still pales by comparison to the late, great Canberra herbalist Kim Dudley. I have a twenty-page write-up from him and it is remarkable for depth and understanding. An RN, he was a remarkable practitioner who helped people from sunrise to sunset, often seven days a week, even on his hospital bed as he lay dying. (Too much work?) Kim was, simply, a wonderful human being and an original thinker in the herbal world. He was an early student of the late, great Dorothy Hall, of New South Wales. Kim says that St. John's Wort is for "baptism in the theatre of war." He used it for non-healing physical and mental injuries dating back to World War II and the Vietnam War (remember, the Aussies fought in those wars too). It is particularly in non-healing fractures where St. John's Wort has its virtue. It contains proto-porphyrins that stimulate oxygenation in the body. All positive oxidative processes require porphyrins—chlorophyll is a porphyrin, also hemoglobin, cytochrome oxidase which allows the pick up of oxygen in the lungs, CYP 450, the enzyme that oxidizes liver metabolites in phase I, and other cytochromes (colorful cells) in the body (that are sensitive to sunlight, like Hypericum itself). The bones, fascia, and connective tissue are all in communication via piezoelectric currents along the surfaces. When the bones break these are stopped and after setting if the current does not re-establish itself, there will be non-healing of the fracture. Osteologists that are smart use a machine that causes a vibration along the bone that re-establishes the current. St. John's Wort seems to do this too. It also helps with digestion (cytochrome C), muscle oxidation, anabolism (building), and circulation of healthy blood to the capillary bed of the bones—so it is a wonderful combination with Boneset. (For yet more information on these two herbs see our Medical Astrology class with Judith Hill and Matthew Wood; Capricorn and Aquarius).

The passage of our friends to the Other Side is a natural process that we can't begrudge, as we are going there ourselves--retiring from this 'theatre of war' known as Earth. However, I can't help but think how stimulated Kim would have been with the coronavirus pandemic and the vaccine debates. A lifelong adherent of a deeply spiritual and alchemical path--and a citizen of Australia to boot--Kim would have seen the spiritual dimension in all large social and epidemiological events and his insights in these times would have been a great boon to us. If you have any insights from the Other Side, Kim, please plant them in our minds.

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