Wild Foods for Wise Women
Missing Part of Your Diet May Be In Your Own Back Yard
Did you know that many of those unglamorous weeds that you've
been poisoning or pulling out of your garden and lawn are some of the
world's most well-respected and powerful healing plants? If you didnt
know, you aren't alone: Many people don't realize that ordinary weeds
can build and maintain good health. When properly prepared, common weeds
that grow nearby can boost your immunity, strengthen your liver, help
you build strong blood, counter colds and the flu, increase your vitality,
and even prevent cancer.
Health-promoting weeds are easy to find (even in the city), easy to identify,
easy to prepare, incredibly abundant, and as delicious as high-priced
gourmet goodies. And the best part is, they're free!
Go outside right now and see if you can find one or more of my seven
favorites: Burdock, Dandelion, Honeysuckle, Plantain, Red Clover, Violet,
or Yellow Dock. (To the botanist: Arctium lappa, Taraxacum officinale,
Plantago majus, Trifolium pratense, Viola odorata, and Rumex crispus.)
You probably take them for granted. But if they could talk, they would
say "Here we are! We love you! We're waiting to change your life!"
Immune System Boosters
Dandelion and Honeysuckle are particularly good builders of the immune
system. (The immune system is a network of cells and cell products that
defends the body against disease-causing organisms such as bacteria, viruses,
parasites, and cancer cells.) Dandelion root tincture (20 drops, 2-3 times
a day) actually increases the production of interferon, a protein that
inhibits viral multiplication and activates T-cells.
Can a powerful immune system prevent cancer? Put cancer into remission?
Prevent the recurrence of cancer that has been treated? Stop a cancer
from metastasizing? In my book, Breast Cancer? Breast Health! The Wise
Woman Way, I answer these questions affirmatively (and share recipes
for immune-building soups, too). Building powerful immunity can help us
remain cancer-free and it provides long-lasting benefits and
long life for relatively little effort.
The liver is the body's recycling center. This large organ is critical
to healthy digestive function, utilization of hormones, and removal of
chemicals from the body. Dandelion is an outstanding liver strengthener.
It is known to protect, heal, and tone up the liver, helping to relieve
food allergies and aid digestion, as well as repairing damage done by
drugs, chemicals, alcohol, and infections such as hepatitis. Burdock,
Red Clover, Plantain, and Yellow Dock are also powerful liver strengtheners.
Most experienced healers I've met agree that a healthy liver is the basis
for a healthy and long life. Perhaps the single most important benefit
to be gained from befriending the weeds is the strengthening of your liver
Dandelion, Yellow Dock, or Burdock roots are used in tinctures (20 drops,
2-3 times a day) or vinegars (1-2 large spoonfuls on salad daily); Red
Clover is best taken as an infusion; Plantain leaves are eaten in salad
or infused in apple cider vinegar.
Yellow Dock builds strong blood. Strong blood is rich in iron and other
minerals needed for health. Strong blood is nutrient-rich
so vital organs get the nourishment they need for optimum functioning.
Strong blood helps muscles work well without cramping and aching. Strong
blood is low in cholesterol and moves easily through the circulatory system.
Strong blood is packed with plenty of energy: for life, for work, and
Other green allies that build strong blood are Dandelion leaves, Red
Clover blossoms, and Plantain leaves. (And for strong veins, Burdock root
vinegar is a trusted ally.) Daily doses of Yellow Dock root
vinegar (see below) or tincture (5-20 drops once or twice a day)
often increase iron levels in the blood twice as fast as iron supplements.
If you wish to avoid alcohol, soak chopped fresh Yellow Dock roots (or
any of the other plants mentioned here) in enough vinegar to cover for
6 weeks. I use 1-2 tablespoons a day of the resulting medicinal vinegar
to build strong blood.
Counter Colds and the Flu
Throughout Asia, Honeysuckle flowers are steeped in water and the resulting
strong tea scientifically established as antiseptic, anti-microbial,
and anti-infective drunk to ward off colds and the flu. (An
injectable form of Honeysuckle is used in Chinese hospitals to counter
severe infections.) Red
Clover blossoms mixed with ordinary mint and steeped in hot water for
several hours make an effective cold remedy passed down from Colonial
Increase Vitality, Even Prevent Cancer
The leaves of Violets and the blossoms of both Honeysuckle and Red Clover
are renowned as safe, life-enhancing tonics. In addition to enhancing
vitality and rejuvenating fertility, they have proven effectiveness against
pre-cancerous conditions. Red Clover especially is noted for its ability
to reverse in situ breast cancers, cervical dysplasia, and pre-cancerous
polyps of the colon. Violet, whether drunk in an infusion or applied as
a poultice, has a reputation as a dissolver of breast lumps and a protector
of the lungs, even checking the growth of tumors.
The most amazing thing about these seven humble plants is that each of
them has been associated with cancer prevention. Plantain is an important
Latin-American folk remedy against cancer. Burdock as a specific cure
for breast cancer dates back to at least 1887 in the Ukraine. Around the
world, Red Clover is a widely used folk remedy against cancer and is known
as "the herb of immortality." Dandelion is known to stop the
promotion of oncogenes. (When damaged or turned on, an oncogene initiates
cancer.) Violet slows tumor growth. Honeysuckle is a popular anti-cancer
agent in China. Yellow dock is one of the original plants in the Native
American anti-cancer brew now known as Essiac.
As you can see, these seven plants are not useless weeds by any means.
Even if you don't reach out and pick them from your yard (or that nearby
vacant lot), I know you'll be more aware of the abundance of green blessings
How To Use These Amazing Plants
- Dig first-year roots in autumn; use
- Used internally, it resolves chronic
skin problems; fresh root binds and removes heavy metals and chemicals.
- Use daily for six or more weeks; it
is not unusual to take burdock regularly for 2 to 3 years.
- Dried root infusion: 1 to 2 cups.
- Cooked, dried, or raw root: eaten freely.
- Fresh root vinegar: 1-4 tablespoons.
- Tincture of fresh roots or seeds: 30-250
- Infused oil of seeds: as needed on
skin or scalp to encourage growth of new hair.
- Burdock is slow acting but miraculous.
- Leaves are nourishing, roots are tonifying.
- Improves outlook, improves digestion
and appetite, relieves food allergies.
- Can use daily for prolonged use.
- Fresh leaves and flowers: eaten freely.
- Cooked greens: ½ to 2 cups (125
to 500 ml).
- Dried root infusion (tea) 1 to 3 cups
- Tincture of fresh plant, including
root: 15-120 drops.
- Wine of fresh flowers: no more than
6 oz (200 ml).
- Infused oil of fresh flowers: as needed.
- Dandelion is a superb ally for liver
and breasts. Regular use internally before meals and externally
before sleep helps keep breasts healthy, reverses cancerous
changes. Digestion is settled and strengthened a few minutes after
taking a dose. Results in breast tissue are slower, taking six weeks
or more to become evident.
One of the most vigorous vines known, Honeysuckle makes an excellent
complementary medicine for many Western drugs, moderating or eliminating
many of their damaging side effects. The flower buds are harvested in
May or June, dried quickly in the sun without turning or handling, infused
in water overnight (one ounce dried blossoms to one quart boiling water
in a tightly sealed jar steeped for 4-10 hours), and drunk freely.
- Use leaves, harvested any time, or
ripe seeds with hulls.
- Internal use Seeds are
anti-microbial, used against thrush. Leaves promote blood clotting,
increase iron, and strengthen digestion.
- Used externally: leaf poultice or oil
reduces cysts, heals skin and connective tissues, stops itching and
- Daily use: no limit.
- Raw leaves: 3-20 chopped in salad.
- Fresh leaf vinegar: 1-2 tablespoons
- Fresh leaf oil/ointment or poultice:
- Internal response is prompt; noticeable
improvement in blood iron is seen in two weeks of daily use. External
response is also rapid: itching ceases, bleeding stops, pain abates,
and swelling recedes in minutes. Plantain promotes quick, scarless
healing from all wounds.
- Use the just-opened blossoms with a
few leaves clinging.
- Internally: alkalinizes, builds blood;
helps prevent the recurrence of cancer, protects liver and lungs,
improves appetite, relieves constipation, eases anxiety; relieves
symptoms of menopause, increases fertility.
- Externally: softens and reduces breast
lumps; is antifungal.
- Daily use is without limit.
- Fresh blossoms: eaten freely.
- Infusion (tea) of dried flowers: up
to one quart (1 liter).
- Tincture/mother tincture of fresh blossoms:
- Fresh flower vinegar: 1-4 tablespoons
Notes: Over-consumption of blood-thinning coumarins, which are
present only in low amounts in red clover but found in greater amounts
in other clovers such as sweet clover, can lead to the breakdown of blood
cells and increase risk of hemorrhage.
Red clover (legume family) shares with its sisters, lentil and astragalus,
the ability to repair damaged DNA, turn off oncogenes, and reverse both
pre-cancers and in situ cancers. According to J. Hartwell, author
of Plants Used Against Cancer, medical literature has reported
and confirmed hundreds of cases of remission of cancer after consistent
use of red clover. I agree.
- Use the leaves, harvested any time,
even during flowering.
- Externally: Eases pain and inflammation,
heals mouth sores, softens skin, antifungal.
- Daily dose: Use without limit, non-toxic.
- Fresh leaves: in salad, as desired.
- Dried leaf infusion: up to one quart
- Fresh or dried leaf poultice: continuously.
- Internal and external use of violet
can shrink a breast lump in a month.
- Use roots of a plant at least two years
old, dug after autumn frosts, or very early in the spring; leaves,
harvested at any time, use ripe seeds.
- Internally: as root tincture or vinegar,
yellow dock builds healthy blood, protects liver, and acts as a laxative.
As a seed tea, it heals mouth sores and checks diarrhea.
- Externally: Poultices dissolve lumps,
counter tumors and kill fungus infections.
- Can be used daily for up to 12 months.
- Tincture of fresh roots: 10-60 drops
- Fresh root vinegar: 1-2 tablespoons
(30 ml) per day.
- Dried seed tea: no more than one cup
(250 ml) per day.
- Fresh root oil/ointment: liberally,
Legal Disclaimer: This content is
not intended to replace conventional medical treatment. Any suggestions
made and all herbs listed are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or
prevent any disease, condition or symptom. Personal directions and use
should be provided by a clinical herbalist or other qualified healthcare
practitioner with a specific formula for you. All material contained herein
is provided for general information purposes only and should not be considered
medical advice or consultation. Contact a reputable healthcare practitioner
if you are in need of medical care. Exercise self-empowerment by seeking
a second opinion.