Thursday, September 23, 2010

Weeds as medicine

I was reading somewhere about a woman who said that as a child growing up in South Africa, her mother never took her to a doctor, but used the local indigenous plants to medicate her and her siblings. Sadly as people move away from their cultural heritage and become drawn into the modern way, traditional medicines are used less and less. As a herbalist I make the fullest use of the weeds in my garden which have medicinal properties. I've mentioned stinging nettle before, which is a tonic as well as a cleanser of the system. Yesterday I picked a bag full and put it in the freezer to make a soup at a later stage. I also packed 25 litre drums with nettle and added water to make a nutritious tea for the summer crops later on. So stinging nettle is very welcome in my garden!! As a medicinal herb it is rich in minerals and vitamins, and helps to raise blood pressure in people who suffer from iron deficiency anaemia and have low BP. I like to give it to women who are planning a pregnancy.

Urtica urens

Another weed which I value and love to use is Plantago lanceolata or Ribwort. If I have enough I like to make a few litres of tincture from the freshly picked leaves. This herb is invaluable for drying up moisture in the ears ( doctors like to put grommets in to drain the ears), and very useful for upper and lower respiratory tract inflammation. I use it quite a lot for seasonal rhinitis and find it helpful for general catarrhal conditions. It is a herb that seems to soothe mucus membranes so I use it in GI tract inflammation as well as bladder infection.

Plantago lanceolata
Dandelion is a weed that many people despise, but again I am only too happy if it comes up in the garden. The leaves are bitter and can be added to salads. As I said before we just don't eat enough bitter leaves! A tea made from the leaves is a marvellous diuretic and a liver cleanser. A well balanced leafy green salad is so much more than nutrition - it is a tonic for the liver and kidneys too. This in turn will help skin problems. Our food is always our medicine if we eat correctly!!

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