Thursday, May 24, 2012

Herbal Allies and Wild Food from the Backyard

Now that my garden is in and growing for the season, I thought it would be a good time to take a look around at some of the wild food and herbal allies on my property. Next time you go to mow down those "weeds" or pull them out, you might want to stop and look closer. Green food and green medicine is all around us.

Symphytum The mucilage of Comfrey heals and soothes irritated tissues. The roots and leaves are astringents, mucilaginous and contain allantoin. Comfrey is really useful externally on cuts, scrapes and burns and as a infusion to soak healing and sore tissues. I use Comfrey for postpartum soaks for the the mama's I midwife. It also makes a great healing salve for all those scrapes my daughter gets sliding into home plate at softball. Comfrey has wonderful internal uses too, however, it can be toxic so I recommend you consult someone knowledgeable or learn more about this plant before using it internally.

Greater Celadine
Chelidonium majus
Greater Celadine has leaves that look like oak leaves, yellow flowers and grows just about 30 inches high.The juice of Greater Celadine is used externally for all kinds of skin disorders, corns, warts, infections and incurable herpes. Internally Greater Celadine can lower blood pressure, help stomach ailments, aid digestion, cure constipation, help with gallbladder issues, bile production, and relieve toothaches.

Jewel Weed 
Jewel Weed is an extremely important plant to get to know, especially for those of us who spend a lot of time outside in the wild. Jewel weed is the go to plant for skin irritations. If you touch poison ivy and rub jewel weed juice on the spot right away you probably won't get the rash. You can make a poultice or cream to treat poison ivy you already have. If you rub fresh jewel weed juice from the plants stem on a mosquito bite and leave it for 20 minutes the sting will go away.  It can be used for warts, bruises, and fungal skin infections. It has succulent, translucent, hollow, stem, powdered with a pale blue-green, waxy bloom and partitioned by nodes, making the plant easy to identify. It grows orange trumpet shaped flowers. Jewel weed grows up to five feet tall, branching toward the top, and toughening with age.

Common Plantain
Plantago Major
This is a very common lawn "weed". If you shred the leaves of plantain and you can cure new mosquito bites by repeatedly applying the juice for 15 minutes. It also helps heal poison ivy rash and relieve virtually any skin irritation. A tea made from the leaves of Plantain works well as a remedy for colds, flu, asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, fevers, hypertension, rheumatism, bladder problems, gastritis, ulcers, irritable bowel, cystitis, sinusitis, coughs, kidney stones, intestinal complaints, goiter, PMS, regulating menstrual flow, hoarseness, congestion, hay fever, diarrhea, and as a blood sugar stabilizer in diabetics. Plantain is a dicot with parallel leaves and a slender flower stalk. It is rich in Vitamin A, C and K.

If you want to learn more about Wild Food or plant identification I recommend the following resources: 

Edible Plants of the NorthEast pamphlet, compliled by John Root
My Favorite Plants by Blanch Derby
Edible Plants Video's by Blanche Derby

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