Secrets of Nature (Summer 2019)
Photo by Matt Senior/Unsplash

Secrets of Nature (Summer 2019)

Łukasz Łuczaj
time 6 minutes

The hot-blooded antidepressant

The Polish word for St. John’s wort, dziurawiec, gets its name from the holes on its leaves, which are visible when held up to the light [dziura meaning ‘hole’ – trans. note]. Many of its common names in Polish also refer to blood – blood of Jesus, blood of Mary and hare’s blood. This is because the petals of the herb – and also the leaves in spotted St. John’s wort – are covered with reddish stains, as if splashed with blood. In addition, when immersed in oil or alcohol they release a red dye.

St. John’s wort has been ascribed with great power, especially in the Polish Carpathians, where it was believed that placing the herb by a child’s cradle would scare away bad female demons called mamuna or dziwożona, which sneaked up to the cradles to swap pretty children for their ugly ones.



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