I know that you are busy most of the year digging, yanking and dosing your yard to rid it of weeds. When you fertilize your favorite weed, lawn grass, you dose the yard with weed killer meant to take out any other weed and make your yard look like a clean carpet. But you are making a huge mistake. You make this mistake because you are misinformed. Manufacturers spend an awful lot of time trying to shape your view of the world and there is money to be made in fertilizers, weed killers, grass seed, lawn mowers, weed pullers, hoes… etc.. and not much to be made from a free garden weed.
If you can just realign your view of beauty and look at these weeds with an eye for real value, you’d be surprised, first by all of the money you’ll save and second by all the work you will no longer have to do!! And, guess what, you’re getting greener and wiser in the process! And I know you just can’t beat all that. So I am going to tell you all about weeds today, which ones to look for and what to do with them when you find them. You will be shocked to realize just how much good stuff you’ve thrown away all these years.
Chickweed: One of the most common weeds, so common, in fact, that your yard is likely to be full of it. There are many different varieties and cultivars and they vary from region to region. However, they are all still Chickweed. This weed is rich in nutrients like Vitamic C and Phosphorus and tastes really good when washed up and tossed into a salad. You can also boil it up and eat it like a vegetable. Use the tender leaves and toss out flowers and roots. Remember to remove the white heel at the base of the leaves because it has a bitter taste.
Fresh leaves made up into a poultice will reduce skin inflammations and ulcers. If you decoct the entire plant, you can apply it externally on Hemorroids or open sores. You can drink the same decoction to help with constipation. Made into an ointment, it does really well on Eczema, Psoriasis, Dermatitis and other irritating skin eruptions. You can make a quick ointment by expressing the juices from the leaves and stems. This ointment will also tone and invigorate the skin. Drink Chickweed in a tea and it works as a good neutrilizer for overly acid body systems. It also helps to dispel fatty deposits and may have use in reducing cholesterol deposits. Drinking the tea also helps to eliminate yeast infections and applied externally will quell the itching and moisture from general yeast overgrowth.
Plantain: No, this is not the banana, nor is it related to the banana. If you look at the picture, you’ll see the weed I’m referring to and you’ll recognize it immediately. It is in every yard in America and in every lot, woodside, forest, etc… you can come upon. One of the most common weeds in the world, Plantain should never be pulled from the yard and tossed out. Just for starters, this ugly little plant is a handy first aid herb for bug bites, stings, scrapes, burns, sunburn, boils and also Poison Ivy, Oak or Sumac. Simply crush the leaves and apply them to the skin. An ointment or poultice can be easily made by either expressing the leaves of their juices or just mashing them up or blending them. After mashing them up, boil them in a small amount of water until it’s creamy. Slather it on as is and bandage over. Use this same method for a mash to use on Hemorroids.
If you’d like to make cream or ointment with Plantain, I will give you an easy one. Before beginning, hit the Health Food Store or Herbalist and get Tincture of Benzoin and some Beeswax, Lanolin -or- Cocoa Butter. When preparing to make the blend, get out 1/2 cup of vegetable oil and 1oz of either the Beeswax, Lanolin or Cocoa Butter. Slowly melt the mixture in a glass pot or pan, making sure it does not get real hot. Blend it as it melts with a wire wisk. Add in 1 oz of Plantain leaves. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring constantly, over low heat. Do not allow to burn but leave on low for the full 10 minutes and then strain out the leaves over double muslin into a container with a large mouth that allows easy access. This will be slow and tedious, so set it up to strain slowly and just leave it for a few hours. When it’s strained into the pot, add a drop of the Tincture of Benzoin to extend it’s “shelf life”. You can lid it and store it, using a cotton swab to apply it. This soothing mix will stanch bleeding and ease pain. Plantain’s magic resides in the Allontoin that it has. It is literally antibiotic, aniseptic and is known to “knit tissue” in skin abrasions.
To treat a sore throat or cough, make up Plantain Tea and drink up to 4 cups a day for a cough — or — gargle with it warm as needed for sore throat. Dry up some leaves and put 2 tsp of them into a cup of boiling hot water. Steep until the water is colored, which takes from 10 to 15 minutes. Drink this same tea several times a day to treat Bronchitis, the common cold or the flu. It warms, calms the cough reflex and soothes inflammation.
Caution: DO NOT USE PLANTAIN INTERNALLY IF YOU ARE TAKING PSYLLIUM AS A LAXATIVE OR FIBER SUPPLEMENT
Caution: Plantain is often confused for Digitalis Lanata, also known as Foxglove. This plant can be very toxic and should be avoided. Here is a photo for reference:
Dandelion: I know you’ve seen this cute little flower sprouting all over your yard. In the past, they infuriated you and drove you to the Garden Shop for weed killer. And Dandelion is one of the hardest weeds to eradicate. Hey, good thing. Every single part of this weed, from Flower to Root to Seed, is beneficial to you. It is good for the entire body and can help with a wide variety of complaints, including Acne, Eczema, Gallstones, High Blood Pressure, Liver disease, Bladder and urinary tract infections and many other agonies. It has cancer- and virus-fighting properties, and can even help with a hangover. It has been known to be beneficial for insomnia, arthritis, hypoglycemia and diabetes.
Dandelion Tea, drunk up to 3 times a day, can help with a number of ailments. It is first and foremost a diuretic so it is useful in treating urinary infections, bladder troubles, weight retention, edema, high blood pressure, PMS, alcohol hangover and some liver problems. It is a great facilitator in cleansings and in detox. In turn, Dandelion also supplies Potassium, a mineral usually lost in diuretic treatment.
For the serious condition of Endemetriosis, 2 cups of young leaves, either raw or lightly cooked, should be eaten 3 times a day. This herb helps the Liver break down excess Hormones and therefor is valuable in balancing and lowering Hormone levels.
Grinding up or mashing Dandelions and making a fresh poultice or ointment is useful in treating Acne, Eczema, Hemorroids and Warts. Apply a good amount of it and bandage over. For Hemorroids, dab the mixture onto cotton swabs and apply. Sap from a cut stem may be used to treat blemishes, corns, stings, warts and other skin problems.
Yarrow: This is a big plant that grows high with umbrells of yellow flowers and broad serrated leaves. I used to grab my lawnmower and run these down, stupidly, of course, spreading more seeds in a spray all over my yard. But self sowing is the great gift of wild weeds and why they are forever fruitful. And thank God for that because I now know how valuable they are and do nothing but pull them gently out of the ground and take them into my home these days.
Yarrow is often used in the treatment of varied illnesses such as Endemetriosis, Heart Disease, Menstrual problems, Hives, Pinkeye, Styes and for control of colds and flu. It is a long tradition in herbalism to include Yarrow flowers in cold and flu remedies, along with Elderflowers and Peppermint. Drinking Yarrow tea up to 3 times a day will also help with cough and fever. For Endemetriosis, make up Yarrow tinctures and take them 3 times a day. Prepare by mixing 3/4 tincture blended into a Tbsp of water and drinking, starting10 days before the onset of Menstruation and up until two weeks after your period ends.
As a tonic for Heart Disease, Yarrow dilates arteries and lowers cholesterol. It is considered to be a kind of blood vessel tonic and should be drunk as a tea up to 3 times a day. Alternatively, you can make up a tincture and use 1/8 to 1/4 tsp of tincture in water up to 3 times a day indefinitely.
To help reduce heavy periods, there is a tincture with Yarrow that can help. Make tinctures up of Shepards Purse (a weed to be discussed in a future post), Yarrow, Red Raspberry leaves and Vitex. 1tsp each of Shepards Purse and Yarrow tinctures should be mixed with 1/2 tsp each Red Raspberry Leaf and Vitex tinctures. Combine, shake and seal in a vial. Take 3 drops every 15 to 30 minutes until the bleeding lightens. This is a great tonic for the Uterus and should be used regularily but with care. Make the tinctures up using only fresh herb – not dried herbs- or it will lose potency.
For Hives you can use Yarrow externally to reduce the itching and inflammation. Of course, if you are allergic to Daisies, then you should not use Yarrow or Chamomile, both related to the Daisy family. If it’s ok to use Yarrow, then make up strong tea and put it in the fridge to cool. Once chilled, soak a rag or washcloth in the tea and then apply it to the inflammed skin. It should cool the itching and eventually lower the welts. However, remember, if hives do not recede with 24 hours of intitial flare up, take some Benadryl. Yarrow might make them go away and might not. However, it will releive the suffering in the meantime.
For Pinkeye and Styes, make up Yarrow tea and apply it to the eyes. An ointment can be made from mashed Yarrow and applied directly to the styes. The tea can be washed into the eyes to help releive the redness of Pink Eye but be sure to use clean distilled water and not tap water for the tea to eliminate the danger of chlorine.
And last but not least, here are some cold and flu remedies you can make up from wild Yarrow: A traditional blend called Brew is made of 2-1/4 tsp of Echinacea leaves, 2-1/4 tsp Elder leaves, 2-1/4 tsp Yarrow leaves & flowers, 1-1/4 tsps Peppermint and 3 cups of water. Simmer the Echinacea, Elder and Yarrow in the water for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and add in the Peppermint. Cover and steep for 10 more minutes. Strain and toss out the herb leaves and flowers. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and drink up to 3 cups of it a day as needed. a basic but popular tea is made up in advance of use and kept in the leaf. Use 1/4c dried Peppermint leaves, 1/4c dried Lemon Balm leaves, 1/4c dried Elder flowers, 1/4c dried Yarrow flowers. Store these dried leaves away somewhere, away from heat or light. It can be kept up to a year. Any time you need the tea for a cold or a flu, make up a cup of tea by using 1c water, 1-2 tsps of the leaf blend, 1/2 tsp of fresh, grated Ginger and honey or lemon as desired. Steep for up to 10 minutes and drink as often as needed. This tea will also fight viruses and bacteria.
CAUTION: Do not use Yarrow during Pregnancy.
AND REMEMBER: Wash the weeds you dig up thoroughly before us. Try not to use pesticides around your weeds and keep your yard free of animal waste and pollution as much as possible to guarantee the freshness and safeness of your garden plants.
I would never recommend that you stop seeing your Doctor. Tell him that you are using weeds and herbs and keep him posted on your successes. He can keep you informed of changes in your condition, such as Pregnancy, which might preclude the use of herbs or weeds for awhile.