Contributor Dr. Kendra
As summer abounds and those of us that garden spend tireless hours plucking “weeds” from among our flowers and veggies. Do you ever think about the usefulness of some of those herbs (yes, herbs as most of what we consider weeds are useful herbs!!).
So this article is dedicated to the persistent and useful yet sometimes bothersome herb.
Calendula–also known as marigold is good for many skin problems: eczema, dermatitis, cuts, bruises, scars and the like. Be careful of the preparation and as calendula ages it degrades so be sure to get “fresh stuff” and do not keep it longer than a year.
Dandelion- yes that pesky yellow flower that tortures our gardens and lawns all summer. Dandelion has many uses and the entire plant contains medicinal qualities. There is so much research on this herb alone they we could fill even the largest libraries. Dandelion is eaten in all cultures and has been used for centuries to cure a multitude of ailments. The best way to use dandelion is to pluck them from your un-pesticided lawn and put them in your salad!! Dandelion is very useful in pregnancy to reduce swollen ankles. Also dandelion helps decrease blood pressure in pregnancy (especially associated with swelling). If you are not pregnant, dandelion is full of nutritious minerals.
Garlic–the ever popular spice can be found all over the world, and for good reason. Garlic can boost immunity and reduce duration of illness. Garlic can be consumed before entering a public place that may be filled with germs and viruses and boosting immunity can ward off any potential of becoming sick–of course in this case, quantity is the key and you must consume a fair amount (enough to make you smell) in order to reap the benefits. Garlic can lower blood pressure and thin blood as well as increase oxygen to the cells!! Eat up- and share it that way if everyone has some you can’t tell who smells.
Lavender- the ever popular, and ever abundant herb, so sweet to smell and good to eat or drink. Lavender tea is great for calming the nerves, it is also a tasty addition to a martini and that will help you relax for sure). The dried herb stuffed inside your pillow can assist you into dreamland and contribute to a much more sound sleep.
Mullein- is also sweet to smell and useful for balancing the thyroid function as well as, reducing swelling and glandular inflammation. Also mullein is a very potent cough reducer, an excellent treatment for that persistent dry cough many of us get in the fall and winter. Mullein can be used in a tea or liquid herbal preparation.
Mahonia- the new goldenseal. Mahonia has recently gained popularity with the scarcity of goldenseal. As goldenseal rhizome (root) takes 5 years to grow big enough to harvest and is now listed as a “protected herb” to eliminate the chance for extinction. Mahonia has gained popularity, as it has many of the same benefits, even though it is a bit more difficult to grow. Mahonia is a potent antibacterial, and antiseptic and used to kill staph infections regularly in tropical countries where Mahonia flourishes.
Nettle- is my favorite local species. Nettle is one of the most nutritious herbs Mother Nature has given us. Nettle is so rich in bioflavinoids you can give up that expensive juice in a bottle and pick and steep some nettle tea, chances are it is in your backyard if you live in Connecticut. I have heard you can even make pesto with it—let me know how that goes.
All in all nature and summer are beautiful and exciting. Enjoy your adventure, as you can see it may start in your back (or front) yard.
Dr. Kendra Becker practices at Family Wellness Centre of CT. She integrates holistic and conventional medicine to best serve her patients
Family Wellness Centre of CT
181 Cross Rd
Waterford, CT 06385 www.fwcct.com