Posts tagged medicinal
Basic Herbal Preparations with Motherwort

Learning a few different herbal preparation methods goes a long way in making them more accessible. While teas and tinctures can be costly when bought at a store, harvesting and preparing your own is cheap or free. And you get the added bonus of working directly with the plant!

In the article below, I explain some basic herbal preparations using the plant motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca) as an example. (These preparation methods also apply to other plants, of course.) I also quickly go over identification features and medicinal properties of motherwort, but I encourage you to follow the links provided and learn more!

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Juniper: An Aromatic Evergreen

As a child growing up in urban Milwaukee, family walks on Sunday afternoons were routine. I remember going by rows of neatly trimmed juniper bushes, and my father stopping us all as he picked a few leaves, crushed them between his fingers, put them to his nose, and inhaled. We were made to follow suit. The smell was strong but pleasant— resinous, slightly citrusy, and stimulating. To this day, I can’t resist picking small amounts of juniper and inhaling the invigorating scent.

Obviously I didn’t know this as a child, but those distinctive smells are essential oils, and they often signal important medicinal qualities, such as fighting infections in wounds and treating coughs, colds, or fevers. In fact, I didn’t even know that the plant was called juniper, much less realize that it was edible and medicinal. But that uplifting smell always stuck with me; and once you smell it, I’m sure it will for you, too!

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Dandelion Root Coffee

I love dandelion "coffee!" As someone who is overly sensitive to caffeine but loves the taste of coffee, this roasty drink comes close enough to satisfy my craving. 

If you’re looking for something that tastes exactly like coffee, prepare to be disappointed. However, if you want an earthy drink with numerous health benefits, try this one on for size!

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White Pine Vinegar

Infusing vinegar is an easy, safe, and fun way to preserve foraged items for future use. It also draws flavor from materials that you couldn't otherwise eat, perhaps because they are too tough or fibrous. Pine needles are a perfect example! You probably wouldn't want to eat them straight off the tree, but the citrusy, resinous flavor is an excellent addition to salad dressings, drinks, marinades, soups, and more. Furthermore, pine needles are high in vitamins A and C, and prevent and treat coughs and colds. But before we get into the infusion process, let's learn how to identify and find pine trees.

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Yarrow: An Herb for What Ails Ya

It is no understatement when I say that yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is one of my all-time favorite herbs. Over the years, I've used it for many purposes: healing wounds, fighting infections, breaking fevers, aiding digestion, easing painful menstruation, and more. It's a common plant that's easy to find in rural and urban environments-- a gift of healing that's free for the picking!

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Red Raspberry Leaves

Pretty much everyone knows that red raspberries are edible and choice. But it's not as commonly known that the leaves are medicinal and make a great tea! Some of you have probably seen raspberry leaf sold in co-ops and specialty stores. But why pay $5 for a box of tea when you can pick them for free? Read on to learn how to identify red raspberry bushes before they flower.

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Stung by the Nettle

My earliest memory of nettles involves blissfully running through an open forest, only to be assaulted by an itchy, stinging sensation all over my bare legs. My Papa informed me it was "Brennnessel," the German word for stinging nettle, which translates literally as "burning nettle." In fact, its name all across Europe alludes to this irritating quality. It has provoked the ire of gardeners, hunters, and outdoor enthusiasts across the world. However, for centuries (at least) it has also captured the love of herbalists and foragers, due to its medicinal properties, strengthening nutrients, and delicious taste. 

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Pineappleweed: A Modest Morsel

Pineappleweed (Matricaria discoidea) is a humble wildflower of roadsides, lawns, and trail edges that can be found across nearly all of North America. (In the US, it is only not reported in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama.) A relative of German chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla), pineappleweed flowers have a sweet, fruity, pineapple-like smell when crushed. Like chamomile, it is used medicinally as a sedative, an antispasmodic, and an anti-inflamatory.

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