What you see are pictures of plants in my yard. Some are established, some are new and will be planted soon. My plan for this blog was to write about roses, but that'll wait for another month. You see, I'm having too much fun exploring my own yard! Since most of us are stuck at home, this is the perfect time for you to explore your own yard!
My husband and I live on almost an acre of land which is, thankfully, not part of a homeowner's association. While DH sees weeds that he would like to get rid of, I keep finding plants that I want to see flourish. We've come to a few compromises on this. He's letting me keep the far back section all natural (since that part of the yard is almost always wet and the lawn mower usually gets stuck back there). The rest of the yard will be mowed as needed when it's dry enough. In addition, I've chosen some greenery that he'll plant for me.
So, what are the pictures?
The first two are of our Knock Out Rose Bush. We planted this about 7 or 8 years ago in a different location, then, a couple of years later, moved it to where it is now. As you can see, it's huge and happy. The roses have a beautiful aroma, and I've made hydrosols with them several times.
The middle set of pictures are of the Rosa rugosa rose bushes and the Elderberry trees (Sambucus canadensis) that I bought a couple of weeks ago. The next-to-last picture is one of two Brown Turkey Fig Trees (Ficus carica) - also purchased two weeks ago. These were online purchases, so I have to say I'm really happy and impressed at how healthy these plants are! I'll be able to use various parts of all of these plants: the flowers and rose hips from the Rosa rugosa, the flowers and berries of the Elderberry trees, and the fruit of the Fig Trees (though the latter may take several years before they're big enough to produce fruit).
The final picture is of Curly Dock (Rumex crispus L.). This is a new plant I found the other day during my 'yard walk', but there's not much of it yet. It's full of vitamins and minerals, and while the whole plant is edible in limited amounts, I plan to let this one spread some more.
So what exactly do I mean when I say I'm exploring my own yard?
I am literally walking slowly back and forth across my front yard and back yard for about 30 minutes daily looking down at the plants that are growing. Every time I see a flower or leaf that I don't recognize, I take pictures of it.
When I finish my walk, I use an app called PlantNet to try and identify the new ones I've discovered. Often, this app gives me several possibilities, so I check my foraging books and plant recognition websites and FB pages as well. (The most recent, and most accurate website I've been using is www.foragingtexas.com and the most recent and accurate FB page is Wild Remedies.) Once I have a positive ID of a plant, I write about it and try to draw it in a notebook that is dedicated to this purpose. On each plant walk, I try to recognize and name the plants I've already identified from previous days. Except for one time with Chickweed, I haven't harvested anything yet - though I think I need to pull some of those lovely wild onions.
In the long run, these plants will feed bees, birds, other animals, and us. My main focus right now is to learn how to identify the plants, give ones like the Curly Dock time to spread, and plant some that are already common to, and will flourish in, this area. Within a few years, I'd love to be able to regularly harvest plants and herbs for us for food and medicinal use.
Plants I've identified in my yard to date (not all are usable/some are toxic):
Blue-eyed Grass - no human use
Blue Fieldmadder - no human use
Carolina Bristle Mallow - leaves are edible - made into tea
Carolina Geranium - can be used topically only
Clover - edible with specific cautions
Creeping Buttercup - toxic
Chickweed - edible
Curly Dock - edible
Dandelion - edible
Sow Thistle - edible
Horseweed - edible
Northoscordum bivalve (false onion - crowpoison) - toxic
Wild Lettuce - edible with specific cautions
Wild Onion/Garlic - edible
I need to give a strong word of caution with these - and it's the reason I'm not eating my weeds yet. Some of these are edible in small amounts only. Some have toxic
look-alikes. Some need to be eaten fairly quickly or they turn toxic. Please do not just go out and start adding your weeds to salads! Learn about them first and be sure you have a positive identification. If you use chemicals on your yard, I recommend you do not eat the weeds.
This time of being home can be a true blessing for all of us. If you have kids, take them out on daily yard walks. Think of all the Science and Math they can get measuring plants, drawing what they see, researching those plants in books and online, learning how they can use those plants, and learning to love and respect nature with the people they love the most.
The photos above are Chickweed I found in my garden. I'm all excited because there's a bunch of it growing in my yard right now. While DH is not happy about the abundance of "weeds" that have taken over our yard, I'm thrilled that I can begin foraging (instead of buying all my herbs), and Chickweed will be the first plant I gather this year. (Thanks to Rosalee de la Foret's FB page that goes with her soon-to-be-published book Wild Remedies, I'm now learning how to identify the specific plants in my own front yard!)
This beautiful plant makes its appearance at the start of Spring. Along with dandelions, it provides early food for bees and humans. If your yard hasn't been treated with harsh chemicals, you can harvest the stems, leaves, and flowers of Chickweed for multiple uses.
As a food, Chickweed can be used in salads, cooked in foods (like other herbs), made into a pesto or juice, infused into vinegar, oil, and honey, taken as tea, and taken as tincture. Topically, it can be used as a poultice, and eye rinse, a salve, or infused in a bath.
Energetically, Chickweed is cooling and moistening and best for those who have a hot, dry constitution.
Therapeutically, this "weed" offers significant nutrition, including anthraquinones, calcium, coumarins, flavonoids, magnesium, phosphorous, phytosterols, potassium, saponins, and Vitamin C - talk about your healthy salad! Not only does it provide nutrition, it also helps your body absorb nutrients from other foods you eat. It's the perfect ingredient in dishes for those with anemia, or those who are recovering from surgery or illness. During times of high stress, it can help cool the heat and balance the body while encouraging detoxification by getting sluggish lymph fluid to move thereby reducing excess water and fat in the body. (Yes, it can be part of a healthy weight-loss diet.)
Topically, Chickweed relieves bites, stings, and itchy skin much like Plantain does. Infuse it into oil to add to a salve or lotion, then apply to the irritated skin. If you're outside and need immediate relief, crush the leaves and apply them to the abraded area.
Chickweed can be infused in water, then cooled to use as an eyewash to relieve red, itchy, irritated, dry eyes or to help with conjunctivitis and sties as it has antiviral properties.
This hardy little weed has huge potential in your home apothecary and in your diet. It
likes the cooler weather in spring and fall -- you can usually harvest it in those seasons before the flowers bloom or while they are blooming. Once they have gone to seed, the plant will be too tough for food.
If you are new to harvesting your own herbs from your own yard, make sure the plants you acquire are the ones you want to use. Chickweed is a very safe herb, but there are a couple of poisonous plants (Spurge and Scarlet Pimpernel) that could easily be mistaken for Chickweed by the novice.
To learn more about Chickweed, become a member and read about all its benefits on the Datasheet on this website.
1. Bruton-Seal, Julie, Seal, Matthew, Backyard Medicine: Harvest and Make Your Own Herbal Remedies, 2nd Edition, Skyhorse Publishing New York, NY, (c) 2009, 2019,
pages 42 - 45
2. Easley, Thomas, Horne, Steven, The Modern Herbal Dispensatory: A Medicine-Making Guide, North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, California, (c) 2016, pages 210 - 211
3. Hutchens, Alma R., Indian Herbalogy of North America: The Definitive Guide to Native Medicinal Plants and Their Uses, Shambhala Publications, Boulder, Colorado, (c) 1973, pages 87 - 88
4. Moerman, Daniel E, Native American Medicinal Plants: An Ethnobotanical Dictionary, Timber Press, Portland, Oregon, (c) 2009, page 468
5. Pursell, JJ, The Herbal Apothecary: 100 Medicinal Herbs and How to Use Them, Timber Press, Portland, Oregon, (c) 2016, pages 88 - 89
6. Upton, Roy et. al., Botanical Safety Handbook, Second Edition, CRC Press, (c) 2013, pages 818 - 819
7. Physician's Desk Reference, PDR for Herbal Medicines: Third Edition, Thomson, (c) 2004, page 191
8. de la Forêt, Rosalee, Chickweed Monograph, Herbmentor, (c) 2020, https://herbmentor.learningherbs.com/herb/chickweed/, Accessed March 10, 2020
Ginger Elder (berry & flower) Cranberry
Of all the herbs and fruits out there - and there are MANY great ones - these are the top three I would recommend during cold and flu season. They're easy to incorporate into the diet, they're tasty, and they're powerful.
Before I go into more detail about these three, let's briefly review information about viruses from the Jan. 21, 2020 blog on Monthly Tidbits.
Fresh ginger and cranberries are hemagglutinin inhibitors - they prevent virus particles (virions) from gluing themselves on to our epithelial cells. Virions that don't glue on to our cells cannot break open and enter our cells, so they cannot reproduce.
Ginger, elderflowers, elderberries, and cranberries are all neuraminidase inhibitors. This is a second line of defense against viruses. If a virion does glue itself onto an epithelial cell, these herbs can help prevent the virus from breaking into the cell. Again, if the virus can't get in, it can't reproduce.
You'll have noticed a common theme here - prevention of virus reproduction. A virion (it's technically not considered a living cell) sitting on a desk is not multiplying. It's simply waiting for someone to pick it up. Viruses are not capable of reproducing by themselves - they can only reproduce when they enter their 'soul cell'. (Okay, I'm being whimsical here.) You've heard of a soul mate, it's sort of the same concept. A flu virus will only attach to epithelial lung cells, no matter where or how it enters the body. All virions will only attach to cells with matching receptors in the body.
One virus particle entering your body will get wiped out by your immune system, but a few dozen particles entering all at once may be too much for your immune system to handle at that moment, and some of those particles find their 'soul cells' and literally stick to them. At this point, you still have no symptoms and you feel healthy. However, the particles that manage to break into your cells, will go nuts making baby virions. They'll keep doing that until your cells get so full that they explode open and spew thousands of baby viruses (called shedding). Many of those babies attach to other epithelial cells to keep the process going, others spread (through coughing and sneezing) to new hosts.
While your immune system was probably alerted to a problem when the first viruses entered your body, it still needs some time to get up to speed on fighting the pathogen because it needs to identify the intruder, determine if it has seen this version before, (if not, figure out how to destroy it) then ramp up immune cell production. At the point when viral shedding starts, you may have few, or no, symptoms, but you become contagious. Your immune system is still building up its army of soldier cells for the fight that's about to start, but it's not quite ready for a full-on battle. As the viral load in your body increases and your immune cells multiply and engage in war, you become symptomatic - you feel sick.
This brings us back to the previously mentioned points: 1. If the virus particles don't attach to your epithelial cells, they can't reproduce; and 2. If a virus particle attaches to your cell, but can't break into the cell, that virus can't reproduce. Preventing viral hemagglutination, neuraminidase activity, and reproduction is the key to preventing colds and flu.
Drinking a cup of cranberry juice or a cup of ginger tea a day can help prevent viruses from attaching to your cells.
Drinking cranberry juice or tea made from cranberries, ginger, and/or elder can help prevent viruses from being able to enter your cells in case some do attach.
If you're already sick, these herbs can help reduce symptoms and shorten the duration of the cold or flu by reducing inflammation and by preventing many of the new baby viruses from attaching to and/or breaking into more cells.
These herbs can be prepared in a variety of ways separately or combined, and are generally safe for any age.
* Fresh ginger root can be purchased at most grocery stores for a few dollars. Cut off and slice up about an inch of the root. Add it to water or any other beverage. I put it in my morning coffee.
* One cup of cranberry juice a day works just as well as ginger. You can buy the juice any time, or get a couple of bags of frozen cranberries in December, then make them into juice or tea during the year.
* Elderberries can be made into tea, syrup, jam, gummies, wine, and tincture. They do need to be cooked to be safe.
While these herbs can help you resist viral infections, your body might still get overwhelmed with a huge influx of virus particles. If you do start to feel the first signs that you're getting sick (i.e. that funny taste in your mouth or a tickle in your throat) these herbs are a great ally. Making a tea with ginger, elderberry, and elderflower (you could add cranberries too) and sipping on the warm tea all day for two days can help knock out the infection more quickly than doing nothing. I've done this several times at the first onset of symptoms, and ended up not getting sick.
Here's my recipe for this delicious tea (I call it EEG Tea):
1 tsp dried Elderberries
1 tsp dried Elder flowers
1 inch fresh ginger root sliced
3 cups water
1. I place the herbs in a tea diffuser ball (you can use a cotton tea bag, or just drop the herbs in the water and strain at the end).
2. I put the water and herbs in a pot on the stove, cover the pot, and bring it to a boil.
3. Once it reaches a solid boil, I turn off the heat and allow it to steep covered for at least 15 - 30 minutes.
I usually make another batch for the next day before I go to bed. I allow this batch to steep overnight and get really strong. The next day, I can add 3 more cups of water to stretch the tea further.
I don't add anything to sweeten the tea because I love the flavor as is. However, you could add honey to taste if you prefer.
As a final note, there are other things you can do to lower your chances of catching a cold or the flu: 1. get enough rest; 2. eat a healthy diet; 3. wash your hands before eating; 4. avoid touching your face when you're in an area that may have viruses hanging around; and 5. keep commonly touched surfaces clean during cold and flu season (vinegar makes a great natural cleaner for this).
Next week's blog will be in the Essential Oil of the Month section and will examine a few essential oils that are great choices to have on hand during cold and flu season.
P.S. I'm adding to this blog on the day I planned to publish to share my experience of the past few days. Friday evening, I started to feel the first signs of being sick. I suddenly got really tired and generally puny. Then I started to have a dry cough, but it made my lungs sore. I made my EEG Tea and drank 3 cups before bed. I was feeling better Saturday morning, but my husband was starting to feel ill. (He didn't tell me that he started to feel sick about the same time I did on Friday.) I made more tea for both of us and went to my booth at the flea market. By the time I got home, I was fine -- he was SICK. He had a sore throat, a temperature over 100, he was coughing, had no appetite, etc - all the symptoms of the flu. I switched him to another tea I make to help support the lungs - it adds mullein, thyme, and star anise to the EEG Tea, but his viral load was too great - he was feeling lousy. Sunday morning, he was doing better, though still had a fever. By that evening, he was much worse and could not take a deep breath - he was struggling to breathe. At that time, I took him to the emergency room. He has flu plus bacterial infection, and is now on antivirals, antibiotics, steroids, and an inhaler. The point of this part is to say: The herbs can help, but they are not a total preventative or cure. It's important to recognize when medical attention is needed and to get that help! Modern medicines do have their place in taking care of our bodies.
As I write the ending to this blog, I'm sipping on my second tea and trying to fight off a second infection. It would appear that, in taking care of DH, my own viral load has increased - I'm now coughing, achy, and starting to run a temperature. For tonight, I'll drink my tea, use a personal inhaler with essential oils, and run a diffuser overnight. In the morning, if I'm no worse, I'll continue with my herbs and oils, but if I need to, I will go to my doctor.
Next week, under the blog Essential Oil of the Month, I'll discuss essential oils that can bring some comfort and relief during cold and flu season.
1. Buhner, Stephen H., Herbal Antivirals: Natural Remedies for Emerging & Resistant Viral Infections, Storey Publishing, (c) 2013, pages 20 - 34
2. Butje, Andrea, Aromahead Institute Course: Viruses and the Immune System
3. Weiss, El, et. al., Cranberry juice constituents affect influenza virus adhesion and infectivity, Antiviral Res. 2005 Apr;66(1):9-12., Accessed January 27, 2020
4. Nantz, Meri P, et. al., Consumption of cranberry polyphenols enhances human γδ-T cell proliferation and reduces the number of symptoms associated with colds and influenza: a randomized, placebo-controlled intervention study, Nutr J. 2013; 12: 161., Accessed January 27, 2020, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3878739/
5. van Meer, G, and Simons, K, Viruses budding from either the apical or the basolateral plasma membrane domain of MDCK cells have unique phospholipid compositions., EMBO J. 1982; 1(7): 847–852., Accessed January 27, 2020, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC553120/
6. Racaniello, Vincent , Influenza virus attachment to cells, Virology blog about viruses and viral disease, May 2009, Accessed February 3, 2020; www.virology.ws/2009/05/04/influenza-virus-attachment-to-cells/
7. Haynes, Laura, What the Flu Does to Your Body, and Why it Makes You Feel so Awful, The Conversation US, Inc.; (c) 2010 - 2020, February 12, 2018, Accessed February 3, 2020; https://theconversation.com/what-the-flu-does-to-your-body-and-why-it-makes-you-feel-so-awful-91530Copyright © 2010–2020,
Take a deep breath. Focus on the sensation of the air moving through your nose and into your lungs. Are your airways and lungs clear or congested? If they're clear, imagine a time when they were bogged down with mucus. I'm sure it was a miserable feeling! You were probably coughing up gunk and your chest and throat got pretty sore. Guess what? There's an herb for that! And you may already have this herb in your kitchen!
Through at least 20 centuries, Thyme has been used to help clear up cold, wet, boggy lungs, open the airways, and soothe the sore throat and chest that come with coughing. It works by drying up the excess mucus and killing the germs (bacterial and/or fungal) that your body is fighting. Those with asthma, bronchitis, and whooping cough can benefit from using Thyme.
Often, Thyme was burned in sick rooms to keep others in the house from catching the illness. Scientists have since proven that it's an airborne disinfectant. Today, we can diffuse the essential oil or use a smudge stick for the same purpose.
Beyond its affinity for the lungs and its ability to disinfect, Thyme can reduce pain, cramping, spasms, and swelling. Your whole digestive tract can benefit from Thyme because it's able to alleviate gas, bloating, IBS, and more. It may also knock out lingering or recurrent infections.
To learn about Thyme in greater detail, become a member and check out its Datasheet, which will be published in November.
Often referred to as 'The Root of the Holy Ghost', Angelica has long been considered an herb that brings balance between the spiritual and the material worlds. This pungent, earthy, sweet smelling herb is a cousin to the carrot. While Angelica has quite a few therapeutic properties, its use tends to be concentrated on digestion, uterine health, and restoring the body following a lengthy illness.
Used in cooking or taken as a tea or tincture, Angelica can stimulate the appetite and the secretion of gastric juices. This means your body will be able to properly absorb and process the foods and nutrients you ingest. When you are weak after being sick, you may have little appetite, so recovery may be slow because you're not getting the nutrition you need for your body to regain strength. Angelica's ability to improve your appetite and stimulate proper digestion will allow your body to return to a healthy, pre-illness state more quickly. It can relieve heartburn, dyspepsia, gas, cramping, acid reflux, and indigestion. This goes along with improving appetite, recovering from illness, and maintaining health.
Women who deal with amenorrhea, cramps, and PMS may find relief when they make a tea with Angelica, or spice their food with it. When tissues are bogged down and stuck, Angelica warms them and promotes movement. It can help bring on delayed menses and relieve the symptoms of PMS and cramps by improving circulation
Angelica is also good for cold, boggy lung conditions. Bronchitis, pleurisy, colds, congestion, and cough can all benefit from the addition of Angelica to your diet. With its antibacterial property, it can help clear such conditions. Note the word 'cold' above. Angelica is going to warm and dry cold, damp conditions, or, in the case of fever, induce sweating which may reduce the fever.
It's important to note that the Root must be dried before use because fresh root is toxic.
Angelica is considered safe, though some sources suggest it may cause photosensitivity while being used and is contraindicated in pregnancy. This divergence in opinion stems from a lack of scientific studies that would give confirmation one way or the other. With that being said, phototoxicity with ingestion is considered theoretical based on no known cases according to the Botanical Safety Handbook. The Herbal PDR and other books and websites recommend avoiding exposure to UV rays if you are taking Angelica. (The essential oil is phototoxic.) Perhaps the best explanation comes from Richard Whelan, Medical Herbalist. He states that Angelica is very safe for all ages, that it would require a very high level of ingestion to cause photosensitivity, and that just because it will bring on a late period does not mean it will interfere with pregnancy.
My recommendation would be to check with your health care practitioner before use if you are pregnant, and to limit UV exposure if you are ingesting Angelica. (If you use the essential oil topically, avoid UV exposure for 12 - 18 hours after use.)
How would you like to sweeten your tea without using sugar? Licorice may be the answer for you. It's much sweeter than sugar -- 50 times sweeter in fact!
Wait, something that's sweet AND good for you? I think I could handle that! So, how does it benefit someone?
I'm glad you asked. Licorice is a demulcent herb. That means it'll help moisturize dry, irritated mucous membranes. Imagine quenching the fire of heartburn or ulcer. As you moisturize your digestive tract and excretory system, digestion and elimination issues like constipation can resolve themselves.
Licorice is also antiviral, antimicrobial, antitussive, and anti-inflammatory. All of these properties work together to help soothe hot, dry conditions when you've been sick with a cold or flu and you have a sore throat and/or dry cough. It may even help you recover more quickly from what ails you. Beyond that, it's an immunomodulator, which means it balances your immune system so you can stay healthy.
As a flavoring, Licorice is used in toothpaste, candy, cooking, pastilles, lozenges, syrup, and teas. As an adaptogen, it has the propensity to enhance the synergy between other herbs in a blend so that they're more effective.
As with all things, moderation is the key to using licorice. It needs to be a small part of an herbal blend and used short term -- not more than 6 weeks. Because it can raise blood pressure, those with high blood pressure should not use it. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, don't use this herb unless your health care practitioner recommends it to you. If you are taking medicines with corticosteroids, licorice could interact with them.
Matricaria recutita and Anthemis nobilis/Chamomilum nobile are two species in the same genus from the Daisy plant family. Both are gentle enough to use with children, yet, highly effective tools in your herbal remedies kit. A few of the common therapeutic properties include: anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, carminative, analgesic, relaxing nervine, and sedative.
Perhaps best known for their effects on calming the stomach, the chamomiles can be used for colic, indigestion, nausea, vomiting, ulcers, IBS, morning sickness, PMS, and dyspepsia. All of the properties listed in the first paragraph work to alleviate these conditions.
Both Chamomiles are skin-loving (in herbal and essential oil preparations). With their anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, they can be prepared as teas, poultices, compresses, and incorporated into salves to use on eczema, minor wounds, burns, sunburns, hemorrhoids, rashes, and other skin irritations.
Finally, the relaxing nervine and sedative properties have been scientifically proven to have beneficial impacts on depression, headaches, restlessness, insomnia, stress, tension, anxiety, and migraines. A cup of Chamomile tea before bedtime can help you relax so you fall asleep naturally. Likewise, a Chamomile sachet inside your pillowcase creates a pleasant aroma that will also promote sleep.
To learn more about this beautiful herb, become a member and read about it on the Herbal Datasheets.
Sweet, soft, fluffy, delicious are all excellent descriptions of this useful herb. Therapeutic properties include: anti-inflammatory, antitussive, demulcent, diuretic, emollient, expectorant, galactogogue, hypoglycemic, immunomodulatory, laxative, nutritive, and vulnerary. Let's delve a little deeper into some of these properties.
Demulcent is, perhaps, Marshmallow's best known property. Demulcent means that it can soften the mucous membranes and skin and relieve swelling and irritation by leaving a protective, moistening film. This alone makes a cold infusion of Marshmallow beneficial for stomachache, heartburn, reflux, sore throat, dry mouth and throat, dry cough, dry skin conditions, minor wounds, and minor burns. Marshmallow is so good for the skin, it's even used in skin care products!
As an expectorant, antitussive, anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulatory herb, it can soothe pleurisy and dry, hot lung issues. (Cold, boggy lung conditions would call for some different herbs.) It has a phagocytosis property which means Marshmallow will stimulate the phagocyte immune cells to gobble up pathogens and dead cells. This is important when you're sick, since your immune cells are waging war against harmful pathogens, and both sides end up with lots of dead cells.
Mothers can use a Marshmallow compress to reduce pain and swelling of the breast for breastfeeding and to relieve mastitis. This herb's galactogogue property may also help increase milk supply.
UTIs and bladder infections don't stand a chance with Marshmallow. Hmmm, I just had an idea. I may have to try making (separately), cranberry tea and cold infusion of Marshmallow, then mix them together. It seems to me that this blend would be powerful against a UTI. Diuretic properties of the herb may then help get you going more easily.
Marshmallow is generally safe, but does have a couple of precautions. Because it coats the mucous membranes, it can affect absorption of medications. The recommendation, if you take medications, is to leave at least 1 hour between taking your medicine and ingesting Marshmallow preparations. (My take on that is 1 hour before and 1 hour after.)
Marshmallow may interact with Lithium. It may interact with diabetes medications because it can lower blood sugar.
Always consult with your doctor before using any herb.
To learn more about this sweet, fun herb, check out its Datasheet in the membership section of this website.
We hear a lot of information about oats from ads on TV, the internet, and in magazines. We see adds for oatmeal, oats in soaps and lotions, and oats in products to relieve itching. There's a good reason for what we're hearing -- oats really can do a lot for us.
Oats are highly nutritious with properties that help strengthen our nails, teeth, bones, and hair. They can lower cholesterol, which is good for the heart. They are especially restorative for those who are experiencing physical and mental exhaustion due to illness, drug withdrawal, and/or long-term, high stress situations. They can relax the nerves and restore energy.
Oats are demulcent, so they soothe dry, irritated skin and mucous membranes. Rashes and hot, dry skin conditions generally respond well to topical products containing oats because of their moistening and anti-inflammatory properties.
Milky oats, oatstraw, and oatmeal are forms of oats we use.
Milky oats are the oat seeds before they are ready to harvest. There is a short period of time when the 'milk' can be squeezed out of the seed. Herbalists often make milky oat tinctures to preserve the therapeutic properties of the 'milk'. The tincture is known to be fast-acting.
Ripe oat grains are harvested to make oatmeal. This is likely to be the best known form of oats, and makes a great breakfast, nourishing meal during illness or after surgery, and delicious, healthy cookies (or other dessert).
Oatstraw includes the aerial part of the plant -- stalk and seeds. These can be harvested at any time and then dried. Oatstraw is best used as a decoction (or tea). [Simmer 1 ounce of oatstraw in 4 cups of water for 20 (or more) minutes.]
Some traditional herbal remedies:
* Add milky oats tincture to oatstraw decoction to help strengthen/heal bones.
* Use milky oats tincture for MS as it may reduce the symptoms and fatigue, nourish the muscles, and help with nerve function.
Solidago canadensis, Solidago virgaurea, Solidago odora, Solidago lepida,
Solidago serotina . . . These are just a few of the species (out of more than 130) of Goldenrod, a plant in the Daisy family. Commonly, the leaves and flowers are used, though the roots are also beneficial. This herb is bitter and pungent, drying, and, depending on the species, may be warming or cooling. I will note here that, although it's bitter and pungent, it does have a pleasant taste that is slightly sweet. Wow! Something that tastes good AND is good for the body!
Goldenrod is often used to help with allergies, colds, respiratory infections, coughs, sore throats, and congestion. It's antiseptic, astringent, and expectorant properties come into play with all of these conditions. If allergies leave your eyes irritated, washing them with a cooled Goldenrod tea may just relieve them.
Goldenrod supports mucous membranes. As such, it's a fine choice when one has a UTI, incontinence, bladder infection, or frequent urgency. It's good for the kidneys and has been used historically for kidney stones and nephritis. It has diuretic and diaphoretic properties which promote detoxification. It can loosen up stuck fluid in the body -- from congestion in the lungs to improving circulation.
Goldenrod does just as much for the skin as it does for the inside of the body. Saponins in the herb are effective against Candida, so the tea can be used as a mouthwash (for thrush) or in a sitz bath to reduce fungal infections. Powdered Goldenrod can be applied topically to minor wounds to stop the bleeding. A Goldenrod oil infusion added to a salve -- perhaps mixed with Plantain, Comfrey, Aloe, and/or Yarrow -- may be used on burns, skin irritations, boils, carbuncles, bites, and stings. Compresses, liniments, and oil infusions applied to arthritic joints or acute injuries may relieve pain and swelling.
Scientists believe that Goldenrod may have up to seven times more antioxidants than Green Tea! The current theory is that, between the high level of antioxidants and the ability to prevent new blood vessel growth, Goldenrod may be able to play a role in preventing some types of cancer.
Goldenrod has GRAS (generally regarded as safe) status.
The information contained in this blog is for educational purposes only and has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.