It Is Unlikely You Knew This! Nutritious Herbs You Must Try

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dandelion-3494398_1920Image | pixabay.com

Written by ACHS graduate Cheryl Lynn Hewitt

Every day we walk around, not noticing the herbal pharmacy at our feet. Nowadays, we are too swamped worrying about one thing or another to notice small things. If you walk out of your door; you may (if you try) notice there are weeds everywhere. Green ones or flowering ones, they are there. You may be wondering what this has to do with the nutritious herbs. Well, all of them are considered weeds by farmers and others who feel they are invasive and useless.

The definition of a weed from the Merriam – Webster dictionary:

A plant that is not valued where it is growing and is usually of vigorous growth. [1]

So, by that definition, we can see that it is not the plant itself that is useless but unwanted in a particular area. There are many herbs batched into the category of weeds and in the mind, they are deemed as a pest.

Dandelion

First up we have the very brave and courageous Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale). As brilliant as the sun from the Asteraceae family, this flower has ray flowers fused to look like one flower. Dandelion is plentiful and can be seen everywhere you look.  

They are best harvested in the Spring or Fall in their second year of growth. Their roots roasted in the oven make a delicious coffee alternative as they do contain caffeic acid at approximately 8.3 mg which is comparable to decaf coffee (depending on the bean) and is also soluble in water as well.

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Pictured: Dandelion Taraxacum officinale

Dandelion has the highest amount of potassium than any medicinal plant which can replace what a synthetic diuretic takes away without the side effects. You can eat Dandelion in a salad or drink it as an infusion (tea) and glean the diuretic effects safely. Dandelion also stimulates bile and gastric juice flow as well as the kidneys, bladder, liver, spleen, and pancreas giving your organs the thorough cleanse they need. For those with gout, this is an excellent medicinal herb for them as the sulfur content will help the body to flush out the urea and uric acid. 

Contraindications: Root: Do not use if you have blocked bile ducts, gallbladder inflammation, or intestinal blockage. There are several potential drug interactions noted for dandelion in the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. [5]

It is often confused with “Cat’s Ear (Hypochaeris radicata), which does not have a hollow stem or hairless leaves and comes out at the driest part of the year and can be identified by the rough low-lying leaves. Each stem of a dandelion holds a single flower head and does not branch off of others like the Cat’s Ear.

hypochaeris-radicata-catsear-flower

Pictured: Catsear Hypochaeris radicata

Plantain

I am certain that you have seen this graceful green beauty in the grass or sidewalk crack! Say hello to your new nutritious friend Plantain Plantago major. She can be found in all regions, in the 1700’s she was naturalized from Europe and Asia. Also called “White Man’s Foot” she traveled her way as a stowaway on the clothing of European travelers to the United States. From the spike to the root, this plant is loving to our body.

The spike contains psyllium seeds and they are sought after for ispaghula husks in the natural food market. A great source of fiber, this plant comes packed with seven flavonoids, crude fiber, dietary fiber, fat, protein, beta-carotene, and carbohydrates. Chock full of vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C, and K. Oh but wait there’s more! Plantain also contains calcium, chromium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, and zinc. [3]

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Pictured: Plantain Plantago major

My favorite use for this plant is the first aid purposes when you are in the woods. If you get a cut, an insect bite, boil, bruise, burns, diarrhea, ringworm, scalded, scratch, stings, toothache, uterine infection, water retention, wounds, and worms. [4] The vitamin K within the weed stops bleeding with its styptic action. It has an anti-viral action glycoside aucubin that will help stop infection right away. It is said that the top of a leaf will draw while the bottom of the leaf will heal. It is an effective blood cleanser and antibiotic as well. It is not to be used during pregnancy due to its uterine actions.

Make your own Plantain Salve

Make your own Plantain salve using this recipe by Heather Dessinger, founder of Mommypotamus.com [2]

Makes ¾ of a cup

Equipment

  • food processor
  • mason jar with lid
  • Crockpot
  • cheesecloth
  • turkey baster
  • double boiler

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh plantain leaves that were gathered from an area that has not been sprayed with chemicals OR 5-8 rounded tablespoons dried plantain leaves
  • 1 cup carrier oil such as olive, coconut, or avocado
  • 1-ounce beeswax pearls by weight, or about 3 tablespoons
  • 36-72 drops tea tree or lavender essential oil

dreamstime_m_116546287Image | Svehlik21 at Dreamstime.com

Instructions

1) If you’re using fresh leaves, start with step one. If you’re using dried leaves, start with step four.

Harvest your leaves on a dry, sunny day. Pull off any parts that look sick or diseased and brush off dirt with a dry cloth if needed. Arrange leaves in a single layer on a clean, dry surface (best lined with a towel) and allow them to air dry for 2-3 days. When the leaves are dry and crisp, start step 3.

2) Chop the leaves or place them in a food processor and pulse a few times until they are coarsely chopped.

3) Place ground leaves in a clean, dry pint mason jar and cover with oil. The oil should completely cover the leaves.

4) Cover the jar with a lid. Place a kitchen towel in the bottom of your crockpot and place your jars inside. Add enough water to cover about half the jar and set to low heat. I recommend the lowest setting possible, which is the “keep warm” setting on the slow cooker I use. Leave the slow cooker uncovered and allow the oil to infuse for 2-6 hours, adding water if needed to keep the slow cooker basin from drying out. Give it a shake (to help the plantain infuse faster) if you think about it whenever you walk by.

5) Remove the jar from the crockpot and strain the oil through cheesecloth or a fine mesh sieve. Let the oil sit for several hours. If there is any water in the oil (from the plantain leaves) it will collect in the bottom of the jar. If there is any water in the oil, use a turkey baster (if you have one) to siphon the infused oil off the top, leaving the water behind. If you don’t have a turkey baster, carefully pour the oil off the top.

6) Give the cheesecloth a good squeeze to extract as much of the plantain-infused oil as possible.

7) Now that your plantain oil is ready, gently heat the beeswax in a double boiler. When it is melted, add the plantain oil while taking care not to pour in any water that may have collected at the bottom of the jar. Stir until thoroughly mixed. If you’re adding essential oils, wait until the mixture has cooled a bit and then stir them in. 

8) Pour your salve into a clean, dry container and allow it to cool.

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References:

[1] “Definition Of WEED”. Merriam-Webster.Com, 2020, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/weed.

[2] Dessinger, Heather. “Plantain Salve Recipe (Homemade First Aid Ointment)”. Mommypotamus, 2020, https://mommypotamus.com/plantain-salve-recipe/.

[3] MomPrepares. “Broadleaf Plantain: Food & Medicine Beneath Your Feet.” Mom Prepares, 20 Nov. 2015, momprepares.com/broadleaf-plantain-food-medicine-beneath-your-feet/. Accessed 15 June 2018.

[4] Petersen, D. (2017). HERB 201: Herbal Studies (18th ed.). Portland, OR: American College of Healthcare Sciences.

[5] “Natural Medicines – Food, Herbs & Supplements”. Naturalmedicines.Therapeuticresearch.Com, 2020, https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com/databases/food,-herbs-supplements.aspx?letter=D.

Disclosure of Material Connection: This blog may contain affiliate links. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent disease. This article has not been reviewed by the FDA. Always consult with your primary care physician or naturopathic doctor before making any significant changes to your health and wellness routine.

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