What healing properties do the plants on your doorstep hold?
I took an evening stroll down a pleasant but unremarkable country lane this evening. As every spring, the wild flowers are racing to compete for the sun’s light and to complete their annual cycle before winter.
I’ve learned the names of many of these plants and I’ve learned how they grow. What I wondered, is what healing properties they may have. The different chemicals in plants have been used for millennia as medicines. Maybe our modern medicines are more refined but many effective drugs are extracted from plants or synthesised to replicate the molecules found in them.
Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) is coming to the end of its season but still green and although its scent has now faded somewhat can be found in hedges and verges.
In the past it has been used as an antiseptic and a treatment for asthma. It can be used as a poultice for ulcers and cuts.
Dandelion (Taraxum officinale) is one of the few wildflowers almost everyone recognises. As well as having the property of restoring childhood memories of blowing its seeds from the “Dandelion Clock” its sap has been used for treating corns, verrucas and warts.
White Dead Nettle (Lamium album) has been used to make a tea for treating excessive periods and haemorrhoids.
It can be told apart from Stinging Nettles by its bold white flowers that whorl in clusters around the stem.
Ribwort Plantain (Plantago lanceolata) grows amongst the grass in many places. As well as containing Vitamin-C it has been used as a tea for chesty coughs and colds.
The Stinging Nettle (Urticaria dioica) is as useful as it is unpopular with anyone who has encountered its stings.
It’s medicinal uses include lowering blood pressure and its iron rich properties have led to it being used to treat anaemia.
All these potentially useful plants within half a mile of my home.
The legal bit: Please speak to your doctor before treating maladies with medicinal plants. Be certain of your identification of anything you forage before you use it and take advice from experienced foragers and herbal practitioners.
Never pick race plants or from a protected site. Only forage plants that are abundant in an area and then in quantities that will not affect their population.
This blog is written for entertainment and inspiration ; it is not intended as an authoritative, exhaustive or detailed guide to plants or their uses. If you are interested in this subject I advise further research using reputable books and websites.