Hilltop Herb Woman
Grey Field Speedwell (Veronica polita)
This is an amazing little herb that is part of the plantain family. It can be used for rheumatism, coughs, and as an expectorant. Its good for skin conditions and can combine freely with plantain in wound/rash healing. It is rich in vitamins, tannins and the glycoside aucubin which has anti-inflammatory, diuretic and liver protective actions.
Grey Field Speedwell is full of vitamins and tannins. The speedwell (Veronica) species are used as a diuretic, for wound healing, rheumatism, diaphoretic (sweat inducing), diuretic, antioxidant, antimicrobial.
Modern studies are delving into the vast properties of the over 200 species of the Veronica plants – particularly for more glycoside properties as well as antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, also for use in food preservation and pharmacological industries.
It has a somewhat sweet flavor and can be eaten raw, tossed in salads and cooked with other greens.
Harvest and dry for teas after the growing season or infuse in oil with plantain for a skin healing salve.
Use the young leaves and stems in salads or with other greens.
Feverfew (tanaceum parthenium)
Although there has been extensive research about the benefits of feverfew for migraines, I thought I’d share my own – real world – observations.
Feverfew is a gorgeous little shrub that is closely related to chamomile and tansy. It can grow to about 3 feet in height and readily reseeds. It is a perennial and features a white daisy-like flower with what seems (to me) a popped-out sort of rounded button center.
Nicolas Culpeper once touted feverfew as a women’s herb, saying that it is a great strengthener of the womb., Culpeper wrote The English Physitian – also known as Culpeper’s Complete Herbal – in 1652, and much more is known about this herb now.
Feverfew is mainly known for its headache reducing and migraine prevention properties. Taken daily it can lessen the frequency of migraines, as well as taken at the first sign of the migraine can help to stop it. For tension headaches I have found a tea/infusion made of feverfew with chamomile to be very useful. Tincture:10-15 drops daily for long-term prevention; Tincture: 5-10 drops with chamomile tincture (20 drops) is my go-to for headaches and for when a migraine hits. For an infusion: 1 part dried chamomile, ½ part dried feverfew, infuse (steep) with freshly boiled water, and cover the mug, for 10-15 minutes. Sweeten with honey, or sugar or stevia as desired. Drink up to three times daily for tension headaches.
An infusion of feverfew with willow bark may help reduce fevers and you can use feverfew in conjunction with St. Johns wort and comfrey in an infusion to help ease inflamed joints.
Creating a tincture using the folk method is extremely easy but I think the following article is highly beneficial. This is from The Herbal Academy: (https://theherbalacademy.com/how-to-make-a-tincture/)
Cautions: Avoid feverfew if you are taking blood thinners, or if you are pregnant. Use caution when eating fresh leaves as they have been known to cause mouth sores.
How to Make a Tincture
1. Remove the fresh or dried herbs off of the stalks. If using freshly dug roots, wash and scrub them of dirt.
2. Chop fresh herbs and grind dried herbs to increase the surface area for the maceration. Place herbs into a clean, dry jar with a wide mouth.
3. Pour high proof alcohol (vodka or brandy) over the herbs until the alcohol level is an inch above the top of the herbs. Dry herbs may absorb the liquid, so check and add alcohol as needed.
4. Cover tightly with a lid and place the jar in a dark cupboard and allow to soak or macerate for 4-6 weeks.
5. During this time period, give the jar a shake every 2-3 days. Keep an eye on the alcohol level to ensure all your herbs are still covered.
6. Once macerating is complete, layer cheesecloth a few times over top of a clean bowl and secure with rubber band if possible.
7. Strain the mixture through the cheesecloth and with clean hands, gather the cloth up and squeeze strongly so every bit of possible liquid is drained from the herbs.
8. Allow material to settle overnight and strain again, or decant, through a smaller filter such as filter paper or a thin wire screen.
9. Use a funnel to transfer into labeled, amber bottles and store out of the light.
An alcohol based tincture will last many years. Using a standard sized dropper bottle, adult dosages are typically 30 to 60 drops in a little water, taken three times a day. However, drop size can be variable depending on the viscosity of the preparation and the dropper size, so if you prefer more precision in your dosage you can consult a reputable publication like Medical Herbalism by David Hoffman.
Learning how to make a tincture is just one of the first things beginners learn in herbalism. If you are interested in studying herbalism, start your journey in the Online Introductory Herbal Course or the Online Intermediate Herbal Course. Learn more about herbs and how to use them as medicine and as food!
Cech, Richo. (2000) Making Plant Medicine. Williams, OR: Horizon Herbs
Gladstar, Rosemary. (2012) Medicinal Herbs: A Beginners Guide. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing.
Herbal Academy of New England. (2013) Herbal First Aid, Herbal Academy of New England’s Medicine Making Handbook
Another great find in my yard – Yellow Wood Sorrell (Oxalis stricta). Also known as Yellow Wood Sorrell or Creeping Yellow Sorrell, or Sour Grass
This is another weed that is edible and good for you. Yellow wood sorrel has a slightly sour-lemony taste that promotes saliva production which can be good for the gums and good for your digestive tract. The sour taste promotes bile production which is necessary for healthy functioning digestion. It is a mild fever reducer and an awesome thirst quencher. Every aerial part is edible, leaves, flowers, and pods – which resemble tiny okra!
It is rich in Vitamin C and was used historically to treat scurvy, fevers, mouth sores, nausea, sore throats, and urinary infections. Its actions include febrifuge, diuretic, astringent, catalytic.
It’s a cheerful plant (in my opinion) and plays well with other useful weeds such as purple dead nettle and chickweed.
You can add yellow wood sorrel to soups, sauces, eat it raw in salads, or dry it and use it as a slightly lemon tasting seasoning. Cooled or chilled yellow wood sorrel tea sweetened with honey is a delight.
One caution: Yellow Wood Sorrel produces Oxalic acid which can cause problems when taken in large quantities as it inhibits calcium absorption, and if taken in moderate amounts it shouldn’t cause problems for people suffering from gout, rheumatism, or kidney stones.
Those little pods also perform a spectacular show by ejecting the seeds when ripe in what is called explosive dehiscence (made me laugh!).
Harvest by simply pulling it out by the roots, then cut off the roots, wash and enjoy.
Wood sorrel tea
- 1 tablespoon fresh wood sorrel leaves, flowers, and/or seed pods
- 1 cup water
Boil water, pour over fresh wood sorrel, and let steep for up to a half-hour. Strain, sweeten to taste, and enjoy! Recipe by https://www.wildedible.com/wild-food-guide/wood-sorrel#wood-sorrel-tea
Chickweed is a creeping weed that features a ten-pointed white star-like flower and deep green small leaves in clusters. It’s low to the ground and enjoys hanging with purple dead nettle and yellow wood sorrel.
Chickweed may be considered a weed, but it is especially useful and edible with many benefits. It is a wonder for skin conditions, eases itching considerably, you can use it as a poultice directly on the skin or in an infusion and wrap the affected area with a compress soaked in the infusion. Create an infused oil by steeping chickweed (all aerial parts) in olive oil – I prefer grapeseed oil for its neutral odor – for a few hours in the oven on the lowest setting or a couple of weeks in a mason jar in your sunniest window. Strain and use as an oil or go a step further and create a salve with beeswax. Apply as needed. It can be particularly useful for psoriasis, lesions, acne, eczema, insect bites, and rashes.
As good as chickweed is for your skin – its also good for the inside of our bodies. Its rich in Vitamins A, D, B complex and C. Its packed with potassium, copper, iron, zinc, and calcium. Medicinally, chickweed is an anti-inflammatory when applied topically, a mild laxative (when taken in larger amounts) and is soothing to the digestive track when taken internally.
A great source of vitamins and minerals in salads, or even a pesto made from the herb with garlic and olive oil.
I prefer using dried herbs in tinctures, but alcohol really brings out the properties of fresh chickweed. If you want to tincture or create a salve, allow the chickweed to wilt for a couple days to bring out much of the moisture content to prevent spoilage.
So the next time you come across chickweed don’t throw it away – – Bring it to me!!! 😊
- 3 cups fresh chickweed (washed and roots removed)
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- juice from 1 lime
- lime zest (if desired)
- 1/2 cup pine nuts (toasted)
- Place everything for this chickweed pesto recipe (except the olive oil) into a blender or food processor. Blend until it turns into a puree, but on the chunky side.
- Slowly add the olive oil.
- Taste and adjust salt if necessary.
- Serve on crackers or crostini.
This chickweed pesto recipe will keep overnight but may separate a bit. Stir well before serving. Recipe from https://www.diynatural.com/chickweed-pesto/#wprm-recipe-container-27504
I love this time of year, all the great things are coming up in my yard – including Purple Dead Nettle.
Purple Dead Nettle is a prolific weed that seems to be the bane of gardeners everywhere – except me. I gleefully look forward to this plant coming up each year so I can harvest and use its beneficial properties in teas and salves – and even sneak a few small leaves into a salad.
Purple dead nettle (Lamium Purpureum) is common in west coast, eastern and Southern US – and pretty much everywhere else. Its called a ‘Dead’ Nettle because there are no stinging nettles. It is a memeber of the mint family and if you look at the stems you’ll find they are square.
The are high in itamin C, minerals, flavinoids, iron, fibre, although ingest it sparingly as it can be a mild laxitive. The herb is very beneficial for kidneys and liver function.
I start harvesting and drying them as soon in the spring when they come up for use later in teas and salves, saving the tender petals for salad. Be sure to give them a light rinse and pat dry before hanging – or use a salad spinner for a quick and easy dry off.
Because I have polycystic kidney disease, I consider the use of purple dead nettle as a must in my regimine to keep my kidneys healthy.