Month: March 2021

Dandelion Plant Uses

Two Dandelion flowers growing in rosette of sharply toothed leaves

Dandelions growing in the woods

Dandelion seedhead

Dandelion seed


Picture of Dandelion leaf rosette

Dandelion Rosette


Taraxacum officinale

This sunny flower is much maligned as a weed but almost every part of this highly nutritious plant can be used for food or medicine.

Dandelion is used in teas and tinctures as a detoxifying tonic for the blood, liver, and gall bladder, and to ease minor digestive problems.

Dandelion leaf tea is considered a diuretic, but as it is high in potassium, it does not deplete potassium levels like medications tend to do. An infusion of Dandelion flowers was used by the Cherokee “to make a woman stronger after childbirth.”

Laboratory studies have shown dandelion to have anti-cancer properties, but clinical studies have not confirmed this effect in humans.

Dandelion can be made into a salve for the same conditions as Chicory. It is said that the sap from Dandelion stems can be used to fade age spots and remove warts. Avoid the stems if you are allergic to latex.

Dandelion leaves and flowering crowns are considered by some to be a spring delicacy and tonic food. The flowers can be dipped in batter and made into fritters. Some people enjoy a wine made from Dandelion flowers.

Children enjoy Dandelions immensely and there is hardly a better plant to use to introduce them to Nature’s wonders. Maybe it will even encourage them to try some cooked Dandelion greens, which are very high in Vitamin C, A, and potassium. Holding a flower under a friend’s chin somehow reflects yellow, and that in folklore means that they love butter. Kids love to blow the seeds in the wind, this is done to “make a wish.” If you split Dandelion stems and dip them in water, they will make Curly Q’s.

Excessive amounts of Dandelion were shown in a study to reduce male fertility in mice. So, guys, limit consumption of Dandelion if you want to father a child or boost your libido.

  • A liquid plant food is made from Dandelion root and leaves.
  • A dark red dye is obtained from Dandelion root.
  • A cosmetic skin lotion made from the appendages at the base of the leaf blades distilled in water, is used to clear the skin and is effective in fading freckles.
  • When placed in a paper bag with unripe fruit, the flowers and leaves of Dandelion release ethylene gas ripening the fruit quickly.
  • Some people say that a hair rinse made with Dandelion infusion with help with hair loss.

“How empathic it is” A sun in the grass!” Thoreau

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Dock Plant Herbal Uses

Curly Dock Plant picture, forest background

Curly Dock in flowering stage.

Young curly dock leaves growing in dead leaves

Young Curly Dock Leaves

Curly dock plant

Curly Dock Plant

Dock Herbal Uses

Rumex crispus, Rumex obtusifolius

Known as Curly Dock, Narrow Leaf Dock or Yellow Dock, this plant will show up in the overgrown areas of yards with a hardy rosette of large leaves with wavy edges that botanical author John Eastman calls “resembling the lolling tongues of dogs.”

The very young leaves and stems of Dock are edible but quickly turn bitter with age and are high in oxalic acid, which is reduced by changing the water 2-3 times when cooking. The root, which has a radish-like taste and odor is  the part used most frequently in herbal medicine.

Dock is a good source for Thiamine, Vitamin C, and Iron. A poultice of Dock leaves or mashed root is used for ulcers, burns, skin diseases and was historically used for tumors and swellings.  A folk remedy saying, “Nettle in, Dock out,” was once famous as it told that rubbing Dock leaves would instantly ease the burn from Stinging Nettle. One source mentioned that it can be useful for rashes caused by parasites.

Dock has been used throughout the ages as a “blood purifier.” It was believed that its bitters cleanse the liver and eliminate toxins in the body. A review confirms that some Rumex species show promise for treatment of inflammation, cancer, and different bacterial infections. Another study showed that a water extract of Rumex crispus root may be effective against osteoporosis. An active compound found in Dock, nepodin, has antimalarial properties.

Bitter Dock, Rumex obtusifolius, has broader leaves and the central rib is often reddish tinted. In research, an extract from Bitter Dock showed a significant effect on hyperglycemia, improving glucose tolerance, and increasing liver glycogen content. The extract reduced total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol levels, and vice versa increased HDL levels. It also decreased liver enzymes levels compared with the untreated group. The study shows that Bitter Dock may have beneficial effects as an herbal remedy in the treatment of Diabetes Mellitus.

An extract of the Dock seed has antioxidant properties. The ripened seeds are brown in late Summer and Fall. They can be ground to make a flour. Or why not try it for an exfoliating, antioxidant body scrub?

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Chicory Herb Uses

Chicory Flowers

Chicory Herb




Cichorium intybus

Chicory is a common wildflower that likes rocky soil on roadsides, but just might show up in your yard as well. If not, you can easily grow this useful plant from seed. You must get out early to see Chicory flowers as they open early and usually close by noon.

A tea made from Chicory leaves and flowers has mild laxative and sedative properties. You can brew roasted and ground chicory with coffee or on its own for a coffee like beverage to enjoy its many health benefits.

According to a study, Chicory root has a significant effect on abdominal obesity, related to the beneficial impacts of inulin on gut bacteria. A daily dose of inulin that promotes bifidobacteria growth, may improve gut function and is well tolerated by subjects with gastrointestinal complaints.

Research has shown that inulin from Chicory root may be beneficial for Type 2 diabetes mellitus, and yet another showed that Chicory roots possess anti-inflammatory activity which might be due to the inhibition of various cytokines, antioxidant effects, and their free radical scavenging activity.

A study of Chicory root extract showed protective and restructuring effects on the skin and improvement of skin barrier function. Boiled chicory leaves and flowers can be used in a poultice for external inflammations. Chicory root extract might be a good addition to homemade beauty products.

Chicory leaves can be used to produce a blue dye, and the flower petals can be eaten in salad. The vegetable Endive is a hybrid of our wild chicory, grown in dark conditions to prevent the development of chlorophyl.

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Cleavers Herb Uses

Cleavers Herb picture

Cleavers Herb

Young Cleavers plants

Cleavers Herb

Close up picture of Cleavers flower

Cleavers Flower

Galium aparine

Cleavers gets its name from the stickiness of the whole plant. Whorls of narrow, lance-shaped, bristly, leaves grow on the sprawling, weak stems. The plant is covered with hairs that cleave to each other and for that matter, anything they touch. To make matters worse, the tiny white flowers develop into small burs that also bear the bristles.

Cleavers juice, tinctures, and infusions are said to be effective cleansers for the lymphatic system – a much gentler remedy than Pokeweed, but also much safer. It is also known as a remedy for stomach ulcers. Cleavers was once listed in the US Dispensary as a preventive and treatment for scurvy.

Cleavers infusion is made by macerating 1 ½ ounces of herb in a pint of warm water for 20 minutes and given in 2-4 oz. doses, 3-4 times a day.  This is said to be helpful with all skin afflictions and will also fade freckles when taken for a few months. You may want to apply it to the skin, as well as taking internally. The same dose is supposed to be useful for bedwetting in children.

It is said that a balm made from Cleavers is used to heal irritated skin. However, some people get severe welts from harvesting Cleavers due to the hairs on the plant. Wear gloves and long sleeves when collecting and handling this plant.  Strain teas, infused oils, and tinctures made from Cleavers to remove hairs before applying or ingesting to avoid irritation.

The roasted seeds of Cleavers are sometimes used as a coffee substitute in Sweden. They also use a mat of the plant to filter milk. This is said to give it additional health benefits.

Most of this genus is known by the name Bedstraw. Other species of Galiums have been traditionally used for anti-cancer, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and cardioprotective effects in folk medicine.

Folklore says that women used to wash with an infusion of cleavers to guarantee success with their love life.

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Chickweed Herbal and Edible Uses

chickweed flower

Chickweed Bloom in late Fall



Chickweed Patch

Chickweed appears in fall as green mats of sprawling little plants with opposite oval leaves, five deeply divided white petals that at first glance seem to grow in pairs. The spindly, sometimes pinkish colored stems have a line of hairs growing along one side. It gets its name from the fact that it is a favorite foraging plant for chickens. Many animals, including pet birds, enjoy the flowering tops and seeds of Chickweed. However, it is said that goats will not touch it!

An infusion – the herb steeped like tea, made from Chickweed is a good source of Vitamin C, iron, and phosphorus. It has been used for digestive disorders, sore throat, rheumatism and more. The infusion also has a reputation as a remedy for constipation, hoarseness and coughs.

Chickweed flowers and leaves can be eaten raw, dried for tea, made into a tincture, or infused in oil. The tincture and infused oil can be used as a liniment for sore muscles or irritated skin.  It is commonly used in herbal salves for its reputed healing properties.

Chickweed juice is an excellent external remedy for itching. It can also quickly stop bleeding and speed healing of minor wounds.  Some people use Chickweed for the relief of eczema and psoriasis and claim it to be beneficial. Freeze the juice into ice cubes, then store them in zip lock bags for future use.

Chickweed tea is an old wife’s remedy for obesity. A study concluded that an extract of Chickweed is beneficial in the suppression of hormone-induced obesity in rats. It has also shown to have antihistamine and anti-inflammatory properties.

Chickweed can be eaten raw in salads or on sandwiches, cooked as a vegetable in soups, or simmered as a pot green.  It can also be canned or blanched and frozen for future edible use. Enjoy Chickweed as a free substitute for Spinach as it tastes very close

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Learn about the Burdock Plant

Burdock plants pre-flowering stage

Burdock plants

Burdock flowers

Burdock Flowers

Burdock leaves rosette on ground, first year growth

Burdock plant in April



Arctium Lappa, Arctium Minus

 Burdock is best known for its giant, rhubarb-like leaves and round, sticky Cockleburs, said to have inspired the invention of Velcro (™). Often found growing in pastures, burs are nuisances that tangle themselves in the fur of livestock, and pets.

Burdock is one of the most utilized detoxifying herbs in both Chinese and Western herbal medicine. It is known as a “blood purifier” and tonic. Burdock Root is used medicinally as an infusion (tea), a tincture, and in capsules as well as cooked as a vegetable. Supplementation with Burdock root has shown positive effects in the treatment of acne especially of inflammatory type. The oil from Burdock seeds has been shown to have anti-aging properties in skin care.

Burdock leaves can be used as a poultice or made into a salve for irritated skin.  They are said to be helpful with fever when laid across the forehead.

If you are patient enough to remove seeds from their sticky coatings, you could grind them very fine, add some good oil, and use for an anti-aging, anti-acne body scrub. You could even add some of the mashed roots as well. Use right away or store in your refrigerator no more than a few days. Oils tend to turn rancid fast when you add plant material that is not completely dry.

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