Important information before you collect any plants or flowers
Wherever you collect any plant items beware of any pesticides or contaminants which could be on or near the area, then you should not collect them. Also be aware of any restrictions on the picking of wild flowers and plants, and ask the permission of the land owner before picking, some of the plants we might consider to be called weeds, but be aware of the laws, and also very importantly ensure that you know exactly what you are collecting, some plants are poisonous or can cause severe adverse reactions. If in doubt contact a qualified person who understands these plants and can give you professional advice as to what would be suitable and legal for you to collect and use. Also if purchasing herbs for use please make sure they are what you expect them to be, and only buy from reputable stockists. You should ideally check the Latin name to ensure you have the correct plant.
Rose (Rosa canina)
Be sure to use the ‘Rosa canina’ variety plant and not any hybrids or treated rose plants which may be treated with pesticides or colour. Medicinally the leaf and petals can be used as they both have a cooling effect and can be used to bring down a fever or to clear toxins and heat from the body systems. Rose petals can help to relieve cold and flu symptoms as well as any sore throat or runny nose. They can also fight infection in the digestive tract. Rose petals are calming for the nervous system and may help with insomnia, dispel mental and physical fatigue as well as lift depression. They calm the heart and ease palpitations. They have a diuretic effect – clears excess water from the body. It acts as a decongestant on the female reproductive system and can assist with infertility. Use them in a herbal tea. See the suggestion under Lavender.
Camomile (Matricaria recutita)
Camomile is calming and can be used on its own for irritability or digestive upset in babies and children. It is calming for all digestive problems and will ease nervousness and anxiety. A weak mix of the tea can be added to a child’s bath to ease a tired, fractious child. It is useful for abdominal pain, wind, distension, constipation and diarrhoea (it regulates the peristalsis). It also induces restful sleep. It helps with an inflamed bladder and cystitis as well as menstrual disorders and PMS headaches. It’s anti allergic effect will help with allergens such as dust and pollen. For a herbal tea blend see under Lavender.
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
The volatile oils in lavender are the main properties which act medicinally. It has been used for thousands of years, and is relaxing for both body and mind. We often use the essential oil for inhaling to ease anxiety or to assist with rest. It is good for nervousness and any physical symptoms caused by stress – things such as headaches, insomnia and palpitations. It will also lift the spirit, and has a stimulating effect as it is a tonic for the nervous system.
It is also good used externally as a disinfectant for cuts and wounds, and it speeds healing and tissue growth. For instance if I get a small burn whilst ironing or the stove then I would pour liberal amounts of the undiluted essential oil over it, and it heals within a very short time with no visible scar.
You can use the herb in a tea or infusion but the amount used would be minimal and I would recommend that it is mixed with other herbs for a tea, for example mixed with rose and camomile. Make sure that the lavender used is of food quality (cullinary lavender) or organic and not what you would buy at the florist which may have been treated with perfume or pesticides. Better still grow your own organic – the Lavandula angustifolia or the lavandula spica are the ones which have the best medicinal properties.
Here is a suggested mix for a soothing and relaxing as well as uplifting tea. You can vary the proportions but make sure that you don’t put too much lavender because it has a very strong flavour. The proportions are about 62% dried Rose petals, 21% dried Camomile and 17% dried lavender flowers. You can change these proportions according to your taste. Food quality rose water could be used instead of petals if you can’t get them. In litre measures it would be 6 teaspoons of rose petals for 1 litre of boiling water, 2 teaspoons of camomile and about 1 ¼ teaspoons of lavender. Leave to infuse for about 5-8 minutes. Drink and relax!
This is a spice which is very versatile and good for many health situations. If you use it in cooking that’s great. Another way to take it is to add it to warm almond milk, which will produce a golden drink.
It is a warming spice so it is good for the circulation, joints and really all body systems. So many are stressed in this day and age and our bodies will contain toxins or pollutants of one sort or another, turmeric will help to clear these toxins from the blood.
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
Lemon balm has calming properties on the nerves, it may also help to reduce blood pressure and assists in lifting melancholy. It has a toning effect on the heart and is good for digestive disorders. Put a few of the clean fresh torn leaves into a small jug and steeped in boiling water for about 8 minutes for a refreshing summer tea which is also very calming for the nerves. You could also leave it to cool before drinking in this instance.
Nettle (Urtica dioica)
Maybe hated by many for its sting, but it is a nutritive cleanser. Why not use the young shoots finely chopped in a salad or lightly steamed as a vegetable, it has a taste like spinach. You could also make it into a soup. It contain a lot of chlorophyll, histamine, iron, calcium, silica and Vitamin C. Make it into a tea to cleanse your whole body system, maybe as a spring tonic, or as a regular herbal cleanser.
Marigold (Calendula officinalis)
Ointment made from this flower has healing, antiseptic, astringent (draws tissue together), antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties, so it is great for cuts, itching and any fungal problems. It’s also useful for bleeding wounds and minor burns. It is one to keep in your herbal first aid kit.
Comfrey (Symphytum officinale)
I believe an ointment with this herb is the best for healing bruises and sprains as well as broken bones as it binds tissues, it was known as knit bone by the Romans. It contains a substance called Allantoin which has the binding properties. When I fell and broke 5 bones in my foot in 2015 and was in plaster for 7 weeks I drank a tea made of the leaf of this plant almost every day and the bones healed beautifully. To keep up the work of strengthening my bones and tissues after having removed the plaster, I used liberal amounts of my Comfrey, Arnica and Wintergreen ointment at least twice a day for several weeks. Fantastic!
Some view this as a super-food. It contains a lot of iron and silicic acids and assists the regeneration of red blood cells. It also contains selenium, vitamins A, C and E, flavinoids and fibre. It also assists the liver to break down stored fats. It can assist in lowering blood pressure – depending of course on the reason for the raised BP (this must always be investigated for the reason).
It can be used as a food either cooked (I personally wouldn’t use it in pickled form) or raw (this would be finely grated), but as it doesn’t loose its nutritional properties when cooked it may be preferable this way. Please remember that when eating or drinking beetroot you will find that your stools and/or urine will have a reddish colour.
A good way to use it is in juice form. If you are using it this way you would need to mix it with maybe carrot juice – but with one part beetroot to four parts carrot. You would use the raw vegetables and put them in a juicer.
Oats (Avena sativa)
These are highly valuable for the nervous system containing vitamin B, nicotinic acid, calcium, iron, protein, zinc, magnesium, copper and most importantly vitamin E which is very beneficial for the nervous system. It can be used in many forms such as the traditional porridge, oatcakes or muesli. I use it in my base mix with spelt flour for a flan. It is a good form of roughage in the diet. It is also used externally for sufferers of eczema or psoriasis, this would be in a form of wash put in a muslin bag into a bath to ease skin itching.
These are just a few of the myriad of useful herbs and plants for the benefit of your health.