By Kristie Nackord
‘herb girl’ ● Spirit Horse Herbals
Weeds. We spend countless hours attempting to remove these pesky plants from our yards, gardens or fields, but isn’t it interesting how they seem to persevere?
Perhaps we should look at weeds in a new light — some are in fact among the most wholesome sources of food and medicine available to us. From toilet paper to medicine, from food to sunburn relief, weeds provide us, as well as animals, with so much. Knowing this might stop us dead in our weed-stalking tracks!
Below I’ve listed four types of rascally weeds and some of their nutritional and medicinal uses. Each type offers much more than what I’ve shared here, so I encourage you to look them up in your favorite herb or botanical book and learn more. Please note, if you have sprayed them or if they have been in close proximity to a road where they have been exposed to car exhaust and fumes, then please do not consume!
Please also be sure to positively identify the plant before consuming.
Lambs-Quarter (Chenopodium album): More nutritious than spinach, grab this delicious green before it goes to seed as it will become bitter. Offering a slightly nutty flavor, you can add it to your pesto, make a tincture with it, or add it to your salad mix. It is loaded with calcium and iron, as well as vitamins A and C, and other delightful and essential nutrients.
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale): Besides making wishes with the seed heads, dandelion leaf and root is very supportive for cleansing your liver and gall bladder and ridding your body of any unwanted toxins. Slightly diuretic, dandelion is also very nutritious and tastes delicious in salads or your favorite herbal tea.
Plantain (Plantago major): a very low-growing perennial weed, plantain leaves are edible and can be enjoyed steamed, in your salad, or brewed into tea. The leaves get bitter as the plant matures, so grab the early shoots for your calcium and other essential vitamins. Plantain is also fantastic for treating any skin disorders such as mosquito bites, cuts and irritations. Crush the leaves between your fingers and rub the juice from the leaves over the injured area.
Mullein (Verbascum Thapsus): towering high above many other plants and stretching tall through mounds of snow in the winter, mullein is a biennial that products a prolific amount of seed that is a steady food supply for birds and other creatures throughout the winter months. Mullein is one of the best allies for our lungs and is supportive for treating coughs, asthma, and any other upper respiratory issues. Many also know mullein for its use as an earache remedy for humans and animals. And let’s not forget one of my more favorite uses of mullein—as toilet paper! Remember that next time you are out in the woods and gotta go!
Wait, do we have ourselves a new topic for #gardenchat?! Let’s keep the chat going and let’s share with one another all of the wonderful ways and uses we use our favorite weeds.
About the author: Kristie Nackord is the ‘herbalicious herb girl’ behind Spirit Horse Herbals. Rockin’ a medicinal herb and food garden at 8,300 feet in the mountains of south-central Colorado, Kristie is passionate about all things green—and furry! To learn more about Kristie, head on over to her website: www.spirithorseherbals.com Feel free to drop her a line as well, she LOVES ‘plant talk’.
Kristie@spirithorseherbals.com or follow her @spirithorseherb or www.facebook.com/spirithorseherbals