Native Virginia plant life may be the Pharmacy of our Future
Mother nature has a way of providing what we need to survive in plant form.
It has been stated by many that for every ailment humans and animals suffer from, there is a plant that can cure it. The more I study about human health and its correlation with horticulture the more these claims seem to ring true.
Also the more I study and look into the different varieties of plants available in this particular region, the more I realize that instead of looking for a pharmaceutical cure I can literally take a 5 minute walk outdoors and have an unlimited supply of all natural cures for most medical conditions.....in my own backyard.
Recently Jyve Media took a class held in the Appalachian Mountains that included a nature walk and and Q&A session where hikers could take notes and talk about the different kinds of plants available in the region. We were floored, and a bit excited to learn of so many varieties of very average looking vegetation that covers a wide spectrum of medical needs including; Pain relief, antiseptic, detoxification, topical use and plants that can be processed using different methods to achieve a different result.
The plants we identified and studied can be processed a multitude of ways. Some plants can be made into tinctures, into pastes, into powders, mixed with beeswax to make creams. You can also create a variety of other products using local plant life such as toothpaste, shampoos, deodorant and laundry detergent.
Note: when extracting oils from plants never crush or cut up entirely. Instead lightly smack it around a little in a mortar and pestel. Then mix with grapeseed oil and heated at low temperatures with a small crock pot to the desired product.
Some of the plants covered in the class that are native to Virginia and could save your life, include:
Parts used: Medicinal uses:
Herbal books recommend washes made from cleavers used to treat a variety of skin ailments, light wounds and burns. As a pulp, it has been used to relieve poisonous bites of snakes, spiders and other venomous creatures. To make a poultice, the entire plant is used, and lied directly to the affected area. Making a tea with the dried leaves is most common. It can be brewed hot or cold. For a cold infusion, steep in water and refrigerate for 24–48 hours. Trying mixing with mint, lemon balm, or rosemary. Alternatively, try using your left-over cleavers tea as a deodorant. You can add essential oils. Cleavers is one of a group of herbs that herbalists refer to as a ‘lymphatic’. This is because it is believed to stimulate the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is a major part of the immune system: lymph nodes and glands such as the tonsils are the nuts and bolts of this system. Drinking and/or gargling cleavers tea can help to ease the pressure on the lymphatic system and to drain swollen glands.
When the seeds beginning to dry out a little and start to turn brown harvest them, wash them, leave them to dry, roast them in the oven and then grind them. Cleavers seed herbal coffee has such a rich taste, with hints of vanilla in it I think. It’s nourishing and believed to give the immune system a bit of a boost.
Medical properties: antibacterial, astringent, blood purifier, hemostatic, anti-inflammatory, diuretic, expectorant.
Ribwort plantain is used to treat these ailments and diseases: abrasions, after itching, asthma, bladder weakness, bleeding wounds, boils, bronchitis, bruises, upper respiratory tract, cold, constipation, diarrhea, eczema, edema (dropsy), eye infection, gastritis, hemorrhoids, insect bites, intestinal mucosal inflammation, liver weakness, liver weakness, loss of appetite, obesity, slight burns, sore throat, thrush (Candida), whooping cough This resilient little weed grows like crazy. It is known to be beneficial for respiratory conditions such a bronchitis and coughs. The ribwort plantain grows inconspicuously on roadsides and on meadows. Identify in early spring by its long narrow leaves, which shoot like lances from the ground. It is an important cough medicine. If you have been injured in the wild and have no patches or disinfectants with you, it helps to chew a few ribwort plantain leaves and apply them to the wound. With an unbroken leaf you can cover the whole thing.
In old herbal books the plantain was used for bladder and kidney problems, tuberculosis, epilepsy and fever. He was also recommended for external complaints such as warts, burns or open wounds.
If you are not on the move, you can prepare a vegetable juice from the leaves that you can drip on wounds. The plant sap helps against abrasions, minor burns, small open wounds, insect bites, bruises, boils and hemorrhoids.
For cough, lung disease, bronchitis and asthma, a tea or syrup from ribwort leaves can help. It may also be consumed for gastritis, irritable bowel and urinary tract infections and gargled in inflammation of the oral mucosa. The plantain is not only helpful for the respiratory system, but also promotes digestion, stimulates the metabolism and helps to lose weight.
The ribwort plantain has long been known as a lung disease plant. The contained silica strengthens the lung tissue and the mucilages protect the mucous membranes, which also alleviates the pain of coughing. But ribwort plantain can also contribute to a healthy diet.
It is high in vitamins C, E and K as well as being high in plant protein and iron. I can be used soups, as a salad garnish or steeping a handful of leaves in hot water with liquorice root and fennel for a medicinal tea to ease winter ailments.
Detoxify, removes heavy metals from body Cough supressent
Mix with flaxx seed, flour for a chest rub Rumitod athritis Works for migrains Deep tissue swelling
First, much of the wild mustard is Brissica rapa which is a good edible plant. The leaves, flowers and roots should all be picked in the spring to early summer when they are still young and tender. The darker the seed color the spicier the mustard. The dried seeds once ground in a food mill, will give you “Dry Mustard” just like the powdered mustard you buy in the store. Burdock Root
Used for treating Gout Rubbed on the skin to treat Eczema Ingested to help lower blood sugar
Herbalists know that burdock root is powerful medicine, but most would be surprised to learn that the burdock is edible as well. Burdock leaves, stalks and roots are edible and can be downright tasty if you know how to prepare them.
NOTE: When foraging for your edible plants always make sure the area has not been sprayed. Choose not to pick from sides of roads or public areas as we never know the state of the soil and it is likely dogs have been doing their business- your back lawn, community gardens or the untouched forest is best! Always be certain that is the indeed the correct edible weed you are about to pick, if in doubt do not eat, ask or do some research!
Medical disclaimer: The information given here is for general educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the care of qualified medical practitioners. In particular seek professional advice if you are pregnant, breast-feeding, have an underlying medical condition or are taking prescription pharmaceutical drugs.
Some plant varieties are great for tea, great for health benefits and mineral deficiency. It is also a rule of thumb that when you encounter a poisonous plant or venomous insect in nature, in the same environment, often not far from the culprit, you will find the antidote.
Plants and natural remedies are becoming more popular and with the ever-looming doomsday clock everyone keeps worrying about, it never hurts to familiarize yourself with your local plant-life and which plants can be harvested for medicinal or for food stores.
Many plants are high in essential vitamins and minerals that typically grocery store food simply does not have. Supplementing natural herbs into your diet and also eating healthy raw foods is the key to survival and you can do it by identifying which plants are edible, which are medicinal and which ones could potentially harm you.