Easy Herbal Remedies

Useful Weeds

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.

Another great find in my yard – Yellow Wood Sorrell (Oxalis stricta). Also known as Yellow Wood Sorrell or Creeping Yellow Sorrell, or Sour Grass

Yellow Wood Sorrell, photo by Kathy McCabe
Yellow Wood Sorrell, photo by Kathy McCabe

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.

Yellow Wood sorrell, photo by Kathy McCabe
Yellow Wood Sorrell Patch, Photo by Kathy McCabe

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!).

Watch seed dispersal in action!

Harvest by simply pulling it out by the roots, then cut off the roots, wash and enjoy.

Wood sorrel tea

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon fresh wood sorrel leaves, flowers, and/or seed pods
  • 1 cup water

Instructions

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.

A close up of a flower

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Chickweed Blossom, Image by Digiman on Pixabay

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 close up of some bushes

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Chickweed (stellaria media) Image by Wikimediaimages on Pixabay

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!!! 😊

Chickweed Pesto

Ingredients

  • 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)

Instructions

  1. 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.
  2. Slowly add the olive oil.
  3. Taste and adjust salt if necessary.
  4. Serve on crackers or crostini.

Notes

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 literally have Mullein growing like crazy on my Nature Walk side of the property. The mostly wild and uncultivated and rocky area between the barn and the neighbor’s property, full of raspberry tendrils, and tall grasses, and Garlic Mustard. I love that side of the property!

Common Mullein

I’m very happy to see it though, it is a very useful herb for many conditions from removing heat in urinary conditions, an expectorant, sedative, to smoking mullein leaves for soothing inflamed lungs, reducing coughing and helping to reduce inflammation. It promotes productive coughing.

Mullein is a fuzzy leafed (Bi-annual) plant that every two years will sprout a giant stalk with golden/yellow flowers – which I haven’t seen yet but I’m waiting!

Dry mullein leaves flat. They can be crumbled for tea – I highly recommend placing this herb in the heat seal tea bags so that the little fuzzies don’t irritate the throat, or strain using a coffee filter. They can also be dried and smoked to ease respiratory conditions (I know it sounds counter-intuitive but it does work). Mullein can be tinctured just be sure to filter it carefully to remove the hairs.

Because it is nervine and can help soothe nerves, I’ve added it to my own blend of pain tea. So I’m very grateful to see nature’s pharmacopeia in my own yard!

Mullein & Honey Cough Medicine (From WolfCollege.com)

Ingredients for Mullein & Honey Cough Syrup:

  • Mullein leaves and flowers **Note: because Mullein loves to live in disturbed areas, we have to be careful to check for pollution or other contaminants before harvesting
  • Elderflowers from blue Elderberry, de-stemmed and rinsed
  • Organic honey

Directions:

First, make sure that the plant materials are clean and dry. The Elderflowers should be de-stemmed.

Next, we need to make a hot infusion. In a medium pot, bring water to a boil and steep the Mullein flowers, Elderberry flowers, and the Mullein leaves for 10 minutes.

Alternatively, you can make a cold infusion: 1 oz of leaves and flowers in 1 quart of water for 4 hours.

When ready, strain the infusion through a strainer bag, and place the infusion back on the stove.

On a low simmer, stir in honey until dissolved. The affected person can also stand over the infusion and breathe in the steam for help with congestion and a croupy cough.

Let cool before consuming. Don’t forget to label with the name, date, and ingredients! Store in the fridge.

Dosage: take like a ‘regular’ cough syrup – 1 teaspoon every 3 or 4 hours

Purple Dead Nettle
Closeup of Purple Dead Nettle

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: Preparing for drying

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.

Hanging Herbs; Purple dead nettle, dillweed.

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.

Herbal tea with dried Purple Dead Nettle

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