My late Great Aunt’s homemade ‘Gospina Trava’ oil which also goes by the name of: St. John’s Wort, Hypericum Perforatum or Kantarion in Croatian, was always a rather potent yet unassuming concoction waiting for me every summer. ‘Gospina Trava’ is known to reap a multitude of benefits, but is it just folk medicine or is there a place for it in the modern world? Well, here you’ll learn how to make your very own!

St. John’s Wort, a plant with yellow star shaped flowers, has been documented since ancient times. First century herbalist Dioscorides, in hisDe Materia Medicanoted its use to treat burns. The herbal plant has also been used in traditional European medicine for a variety of uses. There have been several clinical trials in recent years investigating its efficacy in treating anxiety and depression. Read here to find out more.


‘… when it comes to dry skin, the oil is the real deal!’

Given that ‘Gospina Trava’ is versatile in its use, in my experience, when it comes to dry skin, the oil is the real deal! Yes, it can get a little messy due to the strong red pigment, yet its superior moisturising qualities is definitely worth the mess! Although, one must be careful of applying it outdoors as the skin can become overly sensitive to sunlight.

Hypericum Perforatum is native to Europe, Western Asia and North Africa. For those able to harvest it, like my Great Aunt did from the fields in Croatia, here is her method of transforming the plant into a soothing oil based saviour for the skin.

Family harvesting Smilje (Helichrysum also known as Immortelle) and Gospina Trava (St. John’s Wort) in Croatia. Credit: @dubrovnik_harmony

How to make St. John’s Wort Oil /

Ulje od ‘Gospine Trave’ (Kantarion)

  1. Grab a bunch of flowers and leaves from the Hypericum Perforatum plant.

  2. Cut the plant into small pieces, and put it into a glass jar three quarters of the way.

  3. Pour extra virgin olive oil to the very top of the glass jar, covering all the plant material.

  4. Tightly cover the glass jar with a cloth and elastic band.

  5. Place glass jar on window sill facing the sunlight for just over one month.

  6. Stir occassionally.

  7. The St. John’s Wort will magically turn red in colour.

  8. Get a new jar and extract the red oil using a cheese cloth.

  9. Store in a dark place.

Not one summer went by without my Great Aunt’s Gospina Trava! While it was always effective in helping me with any dry skin concerns, remember to do a test patch before using. And do not apply it outdoors due to photosensitivity!

For those who are interested in exploring the many uses of St. John’s Wort further, it can also be used to make tea or tincture.


Nala xx



Please patch test first. Consult your healthcare provider and seek medical advice before using St. John’s Wort. This statement is for educational purposes only.