Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Medicinal Plants And Herbs On A Forest Homestead

 Red Clover is a pretty common plant in most places. I have plenty of it in my horses' paddock and our yard. You probably do too. It seems to grow abundantly everywhere. I pick just the flowerheads. To dry them you can use your dehydrator or what I do, is to put them on  cookie trays in my oven which has a pilot light and leave them in there for a couple of nights. Then put them in a tin or some canning jars and store in a cool place with low or no lights. I usually drink my Red Clover as an infusion. I put a handful of flowerheads in a canning jar and fill it with boiling water and put the lid on and leave it till morning. In the morning, I have enough Red Clover to drink through out the day. You can just make a tea with it by putting the flowerheads in a tea ball or loose, whatever you prefer. Let it steep for about 15 minutes, drink it with honey or sugar, or plain. I wrote about it in this post, Harvesting Red Clover.

Red Clover is definitely one of God's blessings to us here on earth! It is good for so many different things. I started drinking it as I found it was real good for menopause. But it is good for a lot more than that! For starters, it eliminates toxins and stimulates the immune function to remove toxic waste products. It will also relieve skin problems such as psoriasis, acne, eczema and other types of dermatitis. The flowers are also effective as a mild expectorant and cleanser for the respiratory tract for helping to heal lung problems such as, dry coughs, laryngitis, bronchitis, and whooping cough. Rich in phytoestrogenic compounds like genistein, Red Clover is well known for its part in the fight against Cancer and helping to prevent it as well.

Burdock  is another well known weed around these parts. But it has an undeserved reputation! Burdock Root will neutralize toxins in the blood, stimulate liver secretions which will cause the liver to eliminate toxic compound build-ups. It strengthens the liver and other vital organs with necessary nutrients such as, Chromium, Iron, Magnesium, Silicon and Thiamine, which it is high in. Also has other ingredients such as Niacin, Riboflavin, Vitamin A and Vitamin C.

Being a blood purifier, Burdock makes an excellent remedy for any skin problems.The root, called Gobo in Japan, is used to help ease liver congestion and difficulty in digesting fats. The root or seed can be used for Rheumatism and Arthritis and the root is very well known as a protectant against Cancer. And is also in the famous Cancer cure, Essaic tea, which we drink regularly here.

You can dig the roots and most people will be happy for you to come dig their burdock up for them. Especially......horse owners! First year roots are more tender and are suitable for cooking. They are good used in Stir Fry recipes. The tougher, woody 2nd year roots can be dried and stored and then sliced for winter teas as you need them. These are a labor intensive herb, so I warn you! I try do it more, but it is hard work.

Elderberry is everywhere around me. Easy to harvest. I usually make the berries into juice and we drink it all winter to ward off colds and flus. You can make the dried blossoms into teas or infusions. Elder's anti-viral properties make it effective for relieving colds, flu, and fevers. Infections like acne, boils, skin rashes and other forms of dermatitis will be relieved by it. Even present day research proves that the elder blossoms can help strengthen resistance against infections by supporting immune function. Also good for hay fever and sinusitis. Extracts from elderberry are an excellent remedy for chronic rheumatism, neuralgia and sciatica.

Yarrow - this little flower will stop bleeding, inside or outside. It really works as I have used it more than few times. I add it to our salads and use it for teas.

Dandelion - I feed a handful of leaves to my horses almost every day in spring, summer and fall. We eat it all summer long in our salads. I prefer to use it raw though I know it is known for being cooked but it is VERY bitter and you have to keep changing the water. So I worry that you have cooked all the good stuff out of it. Better to put in salad with your salad dressing taking the bitterness away. The roots are known for being high in medicinal purposes. This little weed is one of the most valuable you can have. If you don't have anything else, this is your treasure. Grows everywhere I think, even in cities. Is used for liver, gallbladder and kidney ailments, is a diuretic. Also for weak or impaired digestion and constipation. Leaves and flowers are high in Vitamins A and C. I add it to our Essiac tea.

Raspberry Leaf - this is the woman's herb, good for lots of woman problems and pregnancy. This is good for teas or salads also.

Black Raspberry or Blackberries is everywhere around us. We clear it out and it keeps trying to come back. I can eat it fresh by the handfuls most summers as soon as it ripens. It is a part of the natural medicine chest too though most people do not know that. Here is a post I wrote about it, In Search Of The Wild Thorns.

Hawthorn - in the heart medicines that the allopathic doctors give you. These are red berries that grow on the trees around us. Just pick and eat. Doesn't get much easier than that.

Plantain - Known as "white man's walk" by the Native Americans as it grows in paths. The juice in the leaf is good for bee stings. I wrote about that on this post, Common Plantain's Place In The Natural Medicine Chest.

White Pine - Was used extensively by the Native Americans. It is good for so many thing, from the needles, to the pitch and the inner bark. I have used for colds by making a tea of the needles. It is one of my favorite smells! The pitch draws out boils and abscesses, also for broken bones, rheumatism, bruises, sores, cuts and inflammations. The bark and the needles are used for sore throats, lung ailments, colds, coughs and poulticed for headaches and backaches. Twig tea is used for kidney and lung ailments. I wrote about it in Vitamin C Plentiful In White Pine Needle Tea.

Willow - Is exactly what aspirin used to be made of. You use the inner bark. If you bite into a piece, you will recognize the taste of aspirin. Used for pain. We harvest the inner bark and dry it real good, put in a tin and use it in teas for pain. This is all my husband will take for pain. But if you are allergic to aspirin then you are probably allergic to willow too.

There are tons more than these. When I moved out here, I just started studying them and I am so amazed at what we have growing here. I learn about them little by little. Some years I focus on one particular one and another year another. It is an ongoing learning process. But it is best to learn the ones that grow around you since you have access to them regularly. The main thing is to get a good book that has pictures not so much drawings. I use Peterson Field Guides. Medicinal Plants and Herbs by Steven Foster and James A. Duke is my most trusted guide. Start reading about them now in the winter so you will be ready for spring.

Clinical studies and double blind tests have not been done and are therefore not endorsed by the FDA. Information provided is for educational and experimental purposes only and my opinion only. If you have any questions, please consult your physician.

Copyright © 2010  Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2010  Kathleen G. Lupole


Paula said...

Oh, Kat, you made my day with this post. Skip, is getting suspicious about the cress which is already growing on the windowsill covered in a towel to keep it warm. I love elderberry blossoms, I actually love the blossoms dipped into dough and then quickly fried. Yummy. I love elderberry syrup. I prefer the dandelions leaves for salad! I love salad with young dandelions leaves and tea with raspberry leaves. I am so glad you share your knowledge so freely. I know I have to integrate slowly on this side of the pond and my list what I like to do gets longer and longer. Hugs up North..

katlupe said...

And Paula, your comment made my day! I worked on this post awhile and it is nice to know someone values the information I put in it.

teekaroo said...

This is something I need to work on. I know I'm surrounded by useful plants, I just don't know which ones or how to use them.

jamiewhitewyatt said...

I used to grow a lot more medicinal herbs, but, a back injury slowed down my gardening. I want to get back to it. I used to give my husband a feverfew tincture for migraines, and make cough syrup out of white pine needles and mullein, and make comfrey and other ointments with beeswax. I've been recently inspired to "be prepared," should there be a time when medical help/medicine aren't available. Your article inspired me, as well!

Bev said...

This was such an interesting post. We've lost so much of the knowledge that generations before us had. I think now so many of us are scared of the natural things and think only the store bought medicines are safe. It's really kind of backwards, isn't it?

Annie said...

Isn't it amazing when we look around us and see all the natural foods we have?

Great post!

Violet said...

What a great post. Do you have a favorite herbal medicine book you could recommend?

katlupe said...

The book I mention in the last paragraph, The Peterson Field - Medicinal Plants and Herbs is the one I use all the time. Susun Weed's books and website are another good source. She has taught me so much from her books. Her books are geared toward women, Healing Wise, Breast Health and New Menopausal Years. You don't have to have breast cancer or be in menopause to use her books. They are packed with info! I will try to do a post about some books.

Violet said...

My reading comprehension for the win. Oops. Thank you!