Reblogging this from myself because this was my first-ever post. :)
Burdock is a nourishing herb that has been used for thousands of years to aid in the healing of everything from acne to cancer. It is commonly referred to as an alterative, which is loosely defined as altering the body towards health. Burdock root is so effective because it is a super food that is jammed-packed with essential nutrients.
You may be familiar with burdock and the large burrs that this plant produces in the fall. Burdock is a biennial plant, meaning it takes two years to complete its life cycle. The root is typically harvested for medicine in the fall of the first year. You can identify a burdock plant in its first year by the large leaves and absence of flower stalks and the burrs. The root grows deep into the earth and prefers hard rocky soils, which can make it a challenge to dig up. However, the effort put into gathering this tenacious plant is well worth it!
Common uses for burdock:
- Diabetes, syndrome X, insulin resistance, and other blood sugar disorders.
- Strengthening the liver and kidneys (burdock is very high in iron).
- Skin eruptions such as psoriasis, eczema, herpes, acne, and boils.
- Commonly paired with red clover as a duo that has been used for thousands of years to slow or eradicate tumors.
Note: Because of its high inulin content you want to limit the amount of fresh burdock you eat and cook it well. Inulin is a valuable substance, but it is difficult to digest and will cause excessive gas if not cooked thoroughly. Burdock is a strong diuretic and is not appropriate for people with low blood pressure or excessive urination.
Nettle (Urtica dioica)
Parts used: Leave, seeds, roots and young tops
Benefits: This is the stinging nettle that farmers hate, hikers despise and children learn to avoid. But herbalists around the world fall at the feet of this green goddess. It is a vitamin factory, rich in iron, calcium, potassium, silicon, magnesium, manganese, zinc, and chromium, as well as a host of other vitamins and minerals. It makes a wonderful hair and scalp tonic, and activated the metabolism by strengthening and toning the entire system. It is useful for growing pains in young children, when their bones and joints ache. An excellent reproductive tonic for men and women, nettle is used for alleviating the symptoms of PMS and menopause. It’s a superb herb for the genital and urinary system and will strengthen weak kidneys, which are essential for vitality and energy. It is indicated for liver problems and is excellent for allergies and hay fever. All this and it tastes good, too!
Suggested uses: For any liver disorder, take nettle in tea, tincture or capsule form. To tone the nervous system, combine nettle in a tea with lemon balm, oats and chamomile. For reducing the symptoms of allergies and hay fever, take freeze-dried nettle capsules. For urinary health and for treating edema, drink several cups of nettle tea combined with dandelion greens. To combat reduced energy and sexual dysfunction, combine nettle in a tea with green milky oat tops and raspberry leaf. Fresh young nettle leaves have a rich green flavor and can be used to replace spinach in any recipe; but they must always be steamed well, or else they’ll sting if undercooked!
Bee pollen is my latest obsession. I picked up some fresh, raw, locally-harvested pollen from Whole Foods after reading it was packed full of nutrients and was a great source of energy. (Of course, a few days later I went to a farmers’ market and found the same bee farm selling the same pollen for much cheaper!) The first time I consumed it, I sprinkled half a teaspoon on some oatmeal with dried cranberries and soy milk. I felt my energy and vitality skyrocket the moment the first little morsel of pollen touched my tongue - I was basically consuming the essence of the flowers and the energy of the bees! It was almost a spiritual experience! I eat it almost every morning with my breakfast, but never after lunch, because then I’m not always able to get to bed. :)
Bee pollen is a concentrated form of nearly all known nutrients and provides a powerhouse of energy for the nervous system. It is a complete protein, containing all 22 amino acids, and has a higher concentration of the 8 amino acids essential to human health (those not produced in our bodies) that most other proteins. Additionally, bee pollen contains high levels of 27 minerals and enzymes, B-complex vitamins and vitamins C, A and E. It has been called the world’s only perfect food and in essence, you could survive on nothing but water and bee pollen.
Like other bee products, pollen has anti-microbial properties as well as anti-biotic, anti-viral, antiseptic, and anti-fungal properties. It is useful for combating fatigue, depression, stimulating the reproductive system for both males and females and eases digestive and colon disorders. It also helps people with allergies because it strengthens the immune system.
Bee pollen should not form clumps and should be stored in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator. Only choose locally produced bee pollen, especially if you’re taking it for anti-allergenic reasons. Heat destroys bee pollen’s vital enzyme activity and lowers the nutrient value, so it is not recommended for teas or cooking. Instead, try adding granules to yogurt or cereal, or mix with cinnamon and add to applesauce. Use only a small amount of pollen (no more than 1-2 teaspoon), out of respect for the energy that the bees put into collecting these golden grains. And never waste a kernel - it takes the bees hundreds of visits to flowers to produce even the smallest pinch of pollen!
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
Volumes could be written on the many uses of dandelion - indeed they have been! This common weed is often hated and poisoned by those preferring a “weed free” lawn, while those of us in love with dandelion and its many uses happily support it taking over our lawns. Every part of the dandelion can be used as food or medicine, making back door
herbalism simple and easy, as it should be.
When the first spring leaves pop up out of the ground they can be harvested heavily and eaten fresh with salads, made into a delicious pesto, or dried for tea. The leaves are highly nutritious, containing large amounts of vitamin A, calcium, potassium, and many more vitamins and minerals. The French call this plant pissenlit, which alludes to its strong diuretic properties. A tea of dandelion leaves is a great way to flush excess water from the system. When eaten with meals, the bitter taste of the leaves helps to promote digestion by stimulating bile to relieve indigestion and other digestive disturbances.
The root is a great ally for the liver. It can be tinctured or eaten fresh in a variety of recipes. Dandelion root can help clear up acne and other skin disruptions with the root cause being a stagnant liver. Most herbalists agree that long-term use of dandelion is needed for best results.