Anyone of us with a basic knowledge of herbal medicine knows that nature is full of endless potential for healing. Almost every plant out there has medicinal properties, especially within the category of those considered weeds.
Dandelions are considered by many to be a very invasive plant. Most people dread removing them from their lawns and gardens, and some people even turn to herbicide to get rid of them! It's an unfortunate mind set that is in dire need of reconsideration.
Dandelion root has been used for centuries in tea and tincture as a powerful liver and kidney tonic. The leafy greens can be used in salad, soups, or cooked as a side dish similarly to spinach. They are very high in vitamins A & C, Calcium, and Iron- surpassing spinach in its Iron content.
The yellow flowers are used to make dandelion jam and wine. They can also be infused into oil which is then used as a topical medicine for muscle and joint pain, sprains, bruises, cuts and scrapes, burns, and dry skin. Dandelions may no have originated in North America, but the little (to no) harm they may cause is virtually nothing when compared to the amazing healing powers they possess.
Want to live a long healthy life? Quit spraying your dandelions with cancer causing chemicals, and start making tea out of their roots instead.
Another amazing plant commonly mislabeled as a weed is the Milk Thistle.
The Milk Thistle is entirely edible, though requires a little grooming first to remove it's pointy spikes. In the 16th century this plant was a common sight at meal time. It can be boiled, baked, fried, or eaten raw. Today it is more commonly used in herbal medicine as a very strong liver tonic.
It can usually be purchased in tincture form at your local organic food, or herbal medicine store.
It is the seeds of the plant which are utilized medicinally. Research suggests that milk thistle extract both prevents and repairs damage to the liver from toxic chemicals and medications. In fact it has proven so efficient, that if administered within 48 hours of ingesting a deadly Amanita mushroom (Death Cap), it can detoxify a persons liver not only to the point of survival, but to the point at which their liver is virtually undamaged by the deadly toxic mushroom!
It is astounding to think that such an abundant and powerful herbal medicine has been outlawed.
The list of Herbal medicines outlawed as weeds grows longer every year. A few other harmless yet amazingly edible and/or medicinal 'weeds' include; Burdock, Chicory, Chickweed, Cleavers, Lamb's Quarters, Mullein, and even the legendary St. John's Wort is not welcomed by the B.C. government. Understandably, some plants considered weeds are legitimately invasive and down-right dangerous to an eco-system. Those such as Knapweed, and Scottish broom have proven themselves devastating to the B.C. environment, and have very little practical use. It's hard to accept that plants of this destructive magnitude are considered ecologically on par with our friend and ally; the dandelion.
So next time you look out at your yard or garden and think, 'why are there so many weeds'?, perhaps instead you should be asking yourself, 'Have I eaten enough greens lately'?
VIVE les mauvaises herbes!