Thanks to the members of the ‘Liverpool Holistic Circle’ for inviting me to talk to them about ‘Wonderful Weeds!’ We looked at a variety of plants and trees growing locally that are regularly used by herbalists and sampled some of them as teas.
Have a look around you and you’ll find so many plants that are considered weeds, yet have been used traditionally for many varied purposes in the practice of herbal medicine. Here is a selection of some of them:
Nettle (Urtica dioica): Most people know about nettle tea and nettle soup made from the leaves. Nettle tea is great to reduce the allergic response in hayfever and as a blood cleanser and diuretic in arthritic conditions, but the root has recently found great use in supporting prostate health and the seeds are used to help with stress and support vitality
Couch grass (Elymus repens): The rhizome of couch grass is used to aid in supporting urinary tract health and preventing cystitis
Mare’s tail / horsetail (Equisetum arvense): Horsetail is naturally high in soluble silica which may underlie its use in healing soft tissue and bone; in trials it increased bone density and hair growth
Marigold (Calendula officinalis): Marigold is used to support hormonal balance, reduces inflammation in the digestive tract, aids healing and reduces inflammation topically. It is of great use in eczema and inflammatory bowel conditions.
Chamomile (Matricaria recucita): Chamomile, like marigold is a wonderful healer and antiinflammatory for the skin and gut but also is a mild sedative, reducing anxiety and aiding restful sleep.
Horsechestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum): Horsechestnut seeds or conkers are used to support healthy functioning of the venous system and tone vessels and surrounding tissue. Typically it is used for varicose veins.
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis): Lemon balm is used topically to inhibit cold sores and in a tea to relax and aid restful sleep
Comfrey (Symphytum officinale): Comfrey is a great healer both topically and in the digestive tract; it is so potent that its use in puncture wounds may cause infection to be sealed under the skin so care must be taken.
Corn silk (Zea mays): Corn silk is used to aid urinary tract health and helps to prevent cystitis
Plantain (Plantago lanceolata): Plantain is used widely to support healthy function of mucous membranes in the gut, respiratory tract and urinary tract, wherever there is inflammation or catarrh.
Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium): Feverfew is used to prevent migraines and reduces inflammation in arthritis
Hawthorn berry (Crataegus spp.): Hawthorn berries are used to support a failing heart, making the heart beat more efficiently, reducing angina and normalising blood pressure
Red clover (Trifolium pratense): Red clover is used as a blood cleanser and ‘phytooestrogen’ in perimenopause
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium): Yarrow has many uses in herbal medicine; it reduces hypertension, aids digestion and reduces inflammation, reduces bleeding, aids peripheral circulation.
Caution: If using plants for medicinal purposes, obtain from a reputable source. The information is offered for its educational value only and should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent disease; please contact your health care practitioner.