Healing Herbs Are All Around Us.
Powerful healing remedies can be found all around you in common everyday plants. They are easy to overlook, many of them we would consider weeds in our modern society. Our ancestors would have relied on medicinal plants as remedies to what ails them. We seem to have forgotten most of these skills. Now, when we go to the doctor, they prescribe a pill for us to take which has fractured this knowledge of medicinal plants that was passed on from generation to generations before ours. Take a look at these herbs that you may have over looked in your travels.
Plantain is commonly found right in your very own lawn. Many people would commonly refer to this as a weed, and look for ways to get rid of it among the grass in their lawn. Plantain is well-known as one of the best, most readily available herbs for first aid. It is a go-to herb for just about any kind of rash, irritation, bite, sting, or wound. It soothes, cools, disinfects, staunches bleeding, speeds tissue healing, and extracts toxins and foreign matter. Plantain infused oil and salves are excellent additions to first aid kits and travel packs.
Chickweed is another plant commonly found in many peoples lawn across the country. Many people would consider it an undesirable weed. Chickweed is a nutritious wild green that is also cooling and moistening and is used as an anti-inflammatory, demulcent (relieving inflammation or irritation) and vulnerary (wound healing). It excels at calming itchy skin and is commonly used in cases of eczema, psoriasis, hives, rashes, wounds, bites, dandruff, dry skin, and mucous membrane inflammation.
Comfrey is the first of these plants that is not a weed that commonly grows in your grass. It prefers damp grassy areas and is commonly found in Northeast North America along streams, lakes, and other bodies of water. It does spread very quickly and easily so there is a good chance you can probably find some if you were to look in the wild.
Comfrey has a centuries-old tradition as a medicinal plant. Today, multiple randomized controlled trials have demonstrated the efficacy and safety of comfrey preparations for the topical treatment of pain, inflammation, and swelling of muscles and joints in degenerative arthritis, acute myalgia in the back, sprains, contusions, and strains after sports injuries and accidents. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3491633/). Traditionally it has been valued for its anti-inflammatory, analgesic and astringent properties.
How to use them?
There are a several ways to use herbs like these. One way would be to get fresh herbs and make a poultice, which you would basically crush the herbs up into a pulp or paste and apply that directly to your skin. This would then be wrapped in a layer of gauze or muslin to hold the paste in place. You might also want to apply a layer of plastic wrap over top of the gauze to help ensure the juices don't make a mess.
A salve is something that soothes. In the US, the more common pronunciation has a silent "L". Applying the herbs directly to your skin is a little messy, and also relies on a supply of fresh herbs. One way to preserve the herbal qualities is to infuse the herbs in oil. The oil will draw out properties of the plant matter, much like making tea to drink. These oils can then be combined with beeswax to make a balm or ointment. The amount of beeswax determines how hard the finished product will be. It could be something with the consistency of petroleum jelly or hard like a lip balm, or anything in between. A salve will have a shelf life of something between 6 - 36 months.
The power of plants
As you can see commonly found plants (or weeds) can be very useful as medicinal aids. Long ago, this knowledge would be passed down from generation to generation through oral tradition; sadly this tradition has largely vanished. We encourage you to learn more on this subject, we are constantly learning it ourselves and happy to share with you what we learn along the way. There is a vast amount of information out there, this page only touches on three herbal plants.
We chose these three herbs because they are commonly available, and ones that you might have already been exposed to. They are also very useful, and form the foundation of our chickweed salve. Click this to read more about our chickweed salve.
Note: We would not recommend using herbs in place of modern medicinal practices (if they are available). None of this is intended as medical advice; we are not doctors. This is just for informational purposes. If you have any medical questions, please consult your doctor or health care professional.