St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum): for burns and rheumatoid arthritis
Carrot (Daucus carota): for itchy skin and eczema.
This common weed is called purslane; it has hidden health benefits that many people have no idea about. Instead of pulling and tossing this weed, you might want to consider harvesting it instead. The health benefits associated with this weed can save you trips to the doctor and the pharmacy. Purslane isn’t only edible, but it contains more nutrition than the greens and vegetables you’re eating now. By quite a significant amount, too. Many weeds are edible but none are as rich with nutrients than purslane — chances are it’s in your backyard right now. This succulent weed is bursting with vitamins and minerals which are essential for overall health and well-being. Purslane has high amounts of calcium and iron which are great for keeping your bones strong.
Its seeds are super strong and can create a plant that can live up to 25 years. It’s no wonder this miracle weed does wonders for your immune system. It’s truly a secret superfood.
Purslane has seven times the beta-carotene than carrots, six times more vitamin E than spinach, and fourteen times more Omega 3 fatty acids.
First up, if you eat it like a veggie, it’s a very nutritious veggie. The leaves are loaded with vitamins and minerals, including the anti-oxidant beta carotene. (See below.)
The bitterness of dandelion increases stomach acid, improving digestion. (Contrary to popular belief, acid reflux is often due to inadequate stomach acid.) Dandelion acts as a cholagogue, increasing flow of bile from the gallbladder into the duodenum. It also acts as a choleretic, increasing bile production. You can try some dandelion tea before meals, or steeping some chopped greens in white wine to accompany your meal, or add the greens to your salad.
- MILD LAXATIVE
The inulin of dandelion roots helps to bulk up stool, while the potassium and magnesium in the leaves may help relieve bloating and constipation. (Constipation is commonly associated with potassium and magnesium deficiencies.)
- SKIN FRESHENER
Use dandelion flowers to lighten freckles and age spots, relieve sunburn and tighten pores. In Healing Wise, Susun Weed suggests covering freshly picked dandelion blossoms in boiling water. Cover your container and let steep for one hour. Strain and reserve liquid.
Place warm flowers on your target skin areas, and relax for ten minutes. Remove flowers and rinse with the flower liquid. Treat before bedtime and leave the dandelion water residue on overnight for best results.
- WART REMOVER
Apply the sap from the flower stalk directly to warts, calluses corns and rough skin. Rub in and repeat as needed. (The sap is antimicrobial.)
- HELP REGULATE BLOOD SUGAR
Is dandelion good for diabetes?
Initial studies say “yes”, dandelion may be helpful for regulating the blood sugar of type 2 diabetics. Volunteers in a 2016 study who consumed 5 g of dandelion root and leaf powder for nine days significantly reduced their fasting blood glucose levels
Plantain (Plantago lanceolata, P. major, P. rugelii)
Fresh plantain leaf poultices are famous for insect stings, such as a wasp or bee sting. You simply chew up a fresh leaf, and then place it on the affected area. It can immediately relieve pain and reduce swelling, heat, and redness.
I’ve also heard of plantain being used for serious spider bites; it’s really a potent plant! Plantain has many uses beyond bug bites.
It can be used topically to address infections and to heal both burns and wounds. Also consider it for an emergency toothache (however, since toothaches can be quite serious, also make that dentist appointment).
Plantain has antimicrobial properties as well as vulnerary or wound-healing abilities.
Plantain has both antiviral and immune-modulating effects.
How to Identify and Harvest Plantain
There are two types of plantains that are regularly used as first-aid medicine. One type is commonly called broadleaf plantain. It has oval or egg-shaped leaves. Plantago major (Eurasia native) and P. rugelii (North America native) are both examples of broadleaf plantain.
Plantain loves to grow right on walkways, lawns, and disturbed areas.
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
For thousands of years, yarrow has been used to heal wounds and stop bleeding. It has been called by many names over the centuries, including the descriptive names spearwort, staunchweed, and woundwort. Yarrow offers a complete package that is well suited for healing injuries. When used as a topical poultice, both fresh and dried yarrow can encourage blood to coagulate, helping to stop bleeding.
Using yarrow to stop bleeding can be as simple as bruising or chopping the leaves to form a poultice and applying them to the area. It’s famous for stopping nosebleeds.
Yarrow is broadly antimicrobial and antiseptic. When used on a wound, it can help keep clear infection or it can be used to address signs of infection such as heat, redness, or yellow discharge.
One study showed that oil infused with yarrow was effective in reducing inflammation on the skin.
How to Identify and Harvest Yarrow
Yarrow loves to grow in sunny fields and meadows, although it can tolerate some shade as well. It commonly grows all over the globe. It reaches one to three feet in height and is a perennial herbaceous herb, meaning it dies back each year but emerges again in the spring from the roots. The flowers grow as a compound corymb and are most often white but can have some pinkish hue. The flowers have a distinctive aromatic scent. Yarrow has both the ray and disk flowers characteristic of the Asteraceae family. I like to harvest both the leaves and flowers for this herbal first-aid ointment.
Self-Heal (Prunella vulgaris, P. lanceolata)
Commonly found growing in lawns and other disturbed places, self-heal is an often overlooked weed It is used for all sorts of wounds.
Self-heal is used for wounds on the skin, including cuts, scrapes, and burns. It’s also used for drawing out infections, such as abscesses and boils. It’s also been shown to have antiviral properties against the herpes virus.
How to Identify and Harvest Self-Heal
Self-heal is a member of the mint family (Lamiaceae) and has the classic characteristics of this family: The purple flowers have a lipped-shape appearance and grow on spikes. The leaves are opposite each other on the stem. The stems are square. The plant grows close to the ground, up to one foot in height. It loves damp shady places and often grows in lawns. It will also grow in full sun. It grows all over the globe and readily spreads once established. Harvest the leaves and flowers when the plant is in bloom.