Healing Weeds - Getting a closer contact with the healing world of herbs and wild plants.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Healingweeds Newsletter 1

We are happy to show you our first newsletter !!!

To receive our monthly newsletter please send an empty email to lyra.alves @ gmail.com
just put as subject: healingweeds subscribe

Or follow our posts by receiving them in your mailbox via our feedburner email subscription: Subscribe here

If you are not subscribed yet or prefer to download the newsletter manually:
Please downloadfree copy (pdf) here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Galinsoga (or Gallant soldiers)

F: Galinsoga - NL: Knopkruid

Galinsoga parviflora
Originally from South America, one can see this plant growing in all kinds of grounds and countries. In temperature zones its green and flowery parts grow from May to October and it can yield large amounts. That makes it a very helpful plant to think of in case of food shortage. It can be eaten raw, in salads and green juices or cooked, having a very mild flavor, which some dare comparing to the taste of artichoke or topinambur.

It can be found from June to October in temperate zones

In South America it is used to spice soups. It can also be dried for winter use, being sprinkled over meals to enrich them.

As a first aid herb it can be used to help treat wounds, cuts, and bites. It can also ease nettle stings. The essential oil extracted from the leaves has shown some antimicrobial activity.

More information and cooking tips on galinsoga and how to differentiate it from a possible toxic look-alike, you can find in the link below:

Galinsoga's Gallant Soldiers

Here is a video where you can have a look at this plant in a more extensive way:

Edible Plants: Galinsoga

Thursday, October 4, 2012


Artemisia vulgare
Artemisia vulgare - NL: Bijvoet - F: Armoise

Mugwort is a powerful medicinal plant, that has been traditionally used for thousand of years. In China it is commonly used even as food and to make moxabustion - an important part of the Chinese Traditional healing methods. Its most famous healing properties are related to troubles in the digestive tract, strengthening the stomach, and as a general tonic of the women’s reproductive system, relieving menstrual cramps and helping to balance the hormonal cycle. Besides, it also works well as expectorant, tonic of the nervous system, antispasmodic (it can be used to help in treatment of ashtma), antihelmintic and antiseptic. The leaves have been studied for their antibacterial action, being effective against several harmful bacteria.

It works as insect repellent, also in the garden. For that a diluted tea obtained by infusion of the aerial parts is enough to used as spray. The fluffy down-looking thing that grows around the leaves can be harvested and kept in a first aid emergency kit to help light up fires.

It relieves sore feet just by placing the leaves inside the shoes.

It works stimulating the uterus, so this plant must be, at all times, avoided during pregnancy.

Here's a nice video where Lieve Galle, from Wildfoodforager.com explains how to recognize Mugwort:

video (2:05 min): What bitter plants can do for your health


Wild Rose

Rosa canina
NL: Wilderoos/Hondsroos - F: L'églantier (fruits: cynorrhodons)

This shrub is another great attraction for wild life. It can be seen in flower from May to September, its lovely scent being spread all around. The flower of this rose is used in preparation of the Bach Flower “Wild Rose” prescribed to help dispel apathy and increase life motivation.

The fruits are ripe around July and can be eaten raw or preserved by drying. They can also be part of delicious jams or compote - a great source of vitamin C for use in winter time. The dry fruits are regularly used in herbal infusions, usually sold as “rose hips”. The rose leaves can also be used in herbal teas that can even replace coffee. Fruits are very rich in vitamins C, E and betacarotene.

Make sure to remove the hairs in the seeds and of some fruits, as they can be irritating to the throat. When making compote, at the stage of sieving the cooked pulp the hairs will be removed anyway, so the attention should be taken only when eating the rosehips raw.

Rose petals - non sprayed - can be eaten raw, in salads, juices or used into cooked dishes. It is also used to make some delicate jam or syrup.

You can watch a nice video with plenty of information on the various uses of Wild Rose, here:
Many uses of rose- Veria Living

More on Wild Rose:
Plants for a Future: Wild Rose
Wild Rose in the Bach Flower Remedies
Lief, from Wildplantforager.com on rosehips 


Nasturtium officinale
NL: Waterkers - F: Cresson

This incredible plant can be found plentiful near water regions, growing all year round. It is amazingly rich both for its nutritional value as for its medicinal applications. The leaves can be eaten raw or cooked. It tastes great in green smoothies, sandwiches and salads, adding some pungent taste to any culinary creation, similarly to ruccola and mustard - which are by the way from the same family.

It is considered a great source of calcium, iodine and iron and its high content of vitamin C makes it a great boost to the immune system to prevent and treat chronic conditions. Traditionally it has been used to prevent and treat colds, bronchitis and even to treat tuberculosis.

 tiny cresses on a grass field near a lake
It is also a powerful cleansing herb and it is also employed as auxiliary in the treatment of toothache, chest and kidney illnesses, both its internal and external use. It is also used externally to heal skin inflammations, swellings and as hair tonic.

When harvesting it near waters that can be polluted by animal pastures one must be careful not to eat this plant raw. Wash it thoroughly and cook it to avoid parasitic contamination. It can be added to soups, stews, etc.

Here is a great video on recognizing watercress and its properties:

Watercress - Boost immunity and brain function

In the link below, you'll find extensive information on watercress:

Nasturtium officinale: Survival Plants Memory Course

If you are not yet convinced to include watercress in your daily smoothies, here's a very good article from Life Extension Magazine to help you with that:

Watercress Benefits for Cancer Protection, Vision and Heart Health


Malva sylvestris
 NL: Kaasjeskruid - F: Mauve

This plant is again one of the great pioneers that comes in quickly to cover the soil when it has been left bare. Its leaves and flowers can be found from March to October, and they are delicious to eat raw, but you may also cook them. Personally I always prefer to leave the flowers to the bees, who simply love them!

After the flowers have lost their power and are about to fall on the ground, I gather them, let them dry in the shade and use them in my first aid kit to prepare salves or poultices for healing wounds, insect bites, bruises, skin inflammations. Of course, if one needs a remedy for wounds, bruises, bites or cuts and can find fresh mallow available, even better!

Malva parviflora
Mallows are a great source of calcium and magnesium. They also contain potassium, iron, selenium, and vitamins A and C.

Mallow’s healing qualities come mainly from the mucilaginous substances present in leaves, flowers and root. Seeds are also edible and have a nutty taste. I prefer to use them to get new plants, but it is good to keep in mind that they can also be great source of protein, in case of emergency.

All parts of the plant, fresh or dried, are suitable for teas, having a very mild taste. It has great expectorant and emollient properties and can therefore be a good remedy to treat coughs, colds, bronchitis and inflammation of the throat. It also helps to relieve problems in the digestive tract, improving intestinal function, even acting as a mild laxative.

The young leaves

The disciples of Pythagoras considered this as a holy plant.

Great videos on youtube to help recognize mallow:

Growingyourgreens - video on recognizing and eating mallow.

Feralkevin shares his knowledge on edible mallow.

Difference between mallow and ground ivy

Here you will find a detailed course on this plant:

Malva neglecta: Survival Plants Memory Course

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


Equisetum arvense

NL: Heermoes - F: Prêle

Field horsetail, often considered intrusive, is another richness that we must learn to value. It offers protection to other garden plants and helps enrich the soil. It can be used in natural garden spray helping to strengthen plants to withstand plague attacks, as well as to eliminate some, being particularly effective against fungal infections. It is a great addition to compost heaps and it can take part in a green liquid "compost"  - very easy to make - fermented with other plants, such as nettle.

It is a rich source of silica. It has been used in many expensive food supplements sold as "liquid silica", to help improve one's mineral balance, helping to repair tissues, fractures and to strengthen the bones, tendons, hair, skin and nails.

Young horsetail shoots
It is also used in folk medicine to increase immunity, as blood cleanser, to heal chronic bronchitis and emphysema, to help mineralize the body and as tonic.

Field horsetail can be dried and ground to be used a food supplement sprinkled over a meal. There are some toxic substances in this plant, so in case of using it internally as food supplement tiny amounts are advised.

Horsetail is also used to help restore tooth health. It can help tooth enamel to get back to how it should be. For that purpose, it can be used in small doses, internally, but also as a tooth powder, mixed with other herbs, such as myrrh, eventually mixed with essential oils such as rosemary, sage, fennel or peppermint. You can use this powder to brush your teeth instead of regular toothpaste.

Horsetail is also used to efficiently clean up water and soil, as bio-remediation. In nature, it grows spontaneously along river beds, and it removes toxic pollutants and heavy metals present in the water and soil. That means that we must only harvest horsetail for medicinal when we are sure it grows in clean soil. Ideally, the higher up toward mountain tops one can harvest this plant, the better.

One must learn to distinguish between Field Horsetail from Marsh Horsetail (poisonous) !

Here is a video on horsetail that can be useful:

Horsetail - Equisetum arvense -by theutahherbwalker

Here is an extensive and interesting article, for the Dutch speakers:

De Geneeskrachtige Heermoes

Shepherd`s purse

Capsella bursa-pastoris
NL: Herderstasje - F: Bourse de capucin

This little plant is another cosmopolitan. I have found it growing in many places throughout Europe, from warm and dry Spanish hills to the chilling plateaus in Norway. It is considered to be a top herbal remedy against haemorrhages (bleedings) of all kinds, internal and external. A tea made from the whole plant is antiscorbutic, haemostatic, hypotensive, stimulant and vulnerary. It is also used to relieve premenstrual syndrome, wounds and burns.

Rich in iron, calcium and vitamin C, the young leaves, harvested before the plant comes into flower, make a delicious addition to salads. The young flowering shoots can be eaten raw or cooked.

They can be available at most times of the year. Its seeds can also be consumed, raw or cooked. It can be ground into a meal and used in soups. The seedpods can be used as a peppery seasoning for soups and stews. The fresh or dried root is a nice ginger substitute.

Its internal use should be avoided by those suffering thyroid problems, by those with high blood pressure as well as during pregnancy.

Here you can watch a useful video on identifying Shepherd's Purse:

Wild Edibles - Shepherd's Purse, by Survival Circle

In the video below you get detailed information on Shepherd's Purse:

Capsella bursa-pastoris: Survival Plants Memory Course

In the following video you'll get more information on how to use to stop bleedings:

Stop Bleeding with Shepherd's Purse - WitchOdaWoods


Calendula officinalis
NL: Goudsbloem - F: Souci - E: Calendula

This beautiful garden plant usually spreads its seeds all over, growing in all possible empty spaces it finds around in the vicinity.

Leaves and fresh petals are very rich in vitamins (such as beta carotene and vitamin C) and minerals, having its nutritional content compared to Taraxacum officinale (Dandelion). They can be eaten raw in salads, smoothies, sandwiches. The dried petals can be used in recipes to replace saffron, giving a yellowish colour to desserts, soups, cakes, risotto, etc.

It is a top first aid remedy for skin problems, having great antiseptic properties. Applied externally it speeds up the healing of bites and stings, sprains, wounds, burns, sore eyes, varicose veins, etc. The dried petals can be easily carried in a first aid kit. Pour a bit of hot water just to cover the petals and let it soak for 5-10 minutes for emergency poultices to help disinfect and heal wounds and burns when other resources are not readily available.

Calendula leaves - delicious in green juices!
It is also a cleansing and detoxifying herb and can be taken internally to reduce fevers, inflammations and chronic infections. A tea of the petals tones up the circulation and, taken regularly, it can ease varicose veins. An application of the crushed stems to corns and warts may help render them easily removable.

It is very easy to grow, even in a not too sunny garden, such as the one we started our first calendula field (North-West oriented garden). It yields a lots of petals and the more we harvest the more new flowers are produced. The highest amount of healing substances are supposed to be present in the fresh flowers, but I love leaving it for the bees and other lovely insects that come visit our garden. I prefer then to harvest only the petals that start getting a bit down and it still works wonders! I use them in salves for healing wounds, cracked skin, to disinfect cuts and relieve itching from insect bites. Just remove the petals, leaving the rest as it is, as the seeds will still get ripe and you can harvest them, let them dry properly and keep them in a paper bag. Even if you do not keep the seeds to plant again next year, the seeds that fall on the ground will make new plants in the coming spring time.

An instructional video on identifying calendula can be seen here:

Calendula: A Healing Herb - by learningherbs.com

For extensive information on calendula, check out this great article with stunning pictures, by Juliet Blankenspoor.

Calendula - Sunshine Incarnate - an edible and medicinal flower


Plantago major

NL: Weegbree - F: Plantago

Plantago major
Plantains can be found growing all over the world, particularly along paths, but also in grass fields. This is another magical herb to think of in first aid emergencies: abundantly available and with great anti-bleeding, wound healing, skin regenerating properties. Internally, they are used in the treatment of a wide range of complaints including diarrhea, gastritis, peptic ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, hemorrhage, haemorrhoids, cystitis, bronchitis, catarrh, sinusitis, asthma and hay fever.

The leaves are used externally, freshly squeezed or heated, in poultices to treat skin inflammations, malignant ulcers, cuts, stings, swellings, etc.

The seeds are used in the treatment of parasitic worms.

Plantago lanceolata

Even though they are not the most palatable plant in the world, having a bitter taste, they are also edible. Its strong leaves can be eaten raw, blanched or cooked. First remove the fibrous strands before use. The seeds are also eaten raw or cooked. The dried seed can be ground and mixed with flour. The whole seeds can be boiled and used like sago to thicken sauces, soups and desserts. Plantago seeds have 17.4% (highly digestible) protein, 6.7% fat, 24.6% total dietary fiber. The oil from plantago seeds had a high percentage of linoleic acid (40.6%) and oleic acid (39.1%) and a minor proportion of linolenic acid (6.9%).

Both most commonly found types of plantain, the one with long leaves (P. lanceolata) and the one with one with rounded leaves (P. major) have strong medicinal properties and can therefore be used in similar way.

Here are two videos on identifying and using plantain:

Broadleaf Plantain - by LuminEarth
Ribwort Plantain - Plantago lanceolata

The link below takes you to a very nice video on how to recognize and use plantain:

The Plantain - Nature's miracle healer

Here is a great article from a herbalist who is apparently just as passionate about plantains as myself:

One of the most useful medicines on the planet - by Jess Smith
P. lanceolata's gorgeous flower

And here you'll find detailed info on plantains:

Plantago lanceolata - Survival Plants Memory Course
Plantago major - Survival Plants Memory Course

I found this a very useful cooking tip for plantain:

Cooking broadleaf plantain - Wild Food Lab

On harvesting plantain seeds:

Harvest Greater Plantain Seeds - Mungo says bah!

* Last but not least, an extensive article in Dutch / En een uitgebreid artikel in het Nederlands:


Achillea millefolium

NL: Duizendblad - F: Achilée Millefeuille

This versatile and powerful medicinal plant appears in most soils and it withstands all kinds of situations in many parts of the world. Yarrow improves the health of the plants growing around it, helping to increase their content of essential oils, making them more resistant to insect attacks. The whole plant repels beetles, ants and flies, but attracts bees. It also improves the soil fertility, making it an excellent plant for growing in lawns, meadows, orchards etc. It is also great addition to compost piles, speeding up bacterial activity.

Yarrow has a high reputation and is widely employed in herbal medicine, administered both internally and externally in the treatment of a very wide range of disorders. It is used for healing wounds, stop bleeding, treating colds, fevers, menstrual pain, tooth ache.

The herb is antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, carminative, cholagogue, diaphoretic, digestive, stimulant, bitter tonic, vasodilator and vulnerary.

Leaves are abundant before the plant is in flower

"In order to effectively treat disease we have to be able to decongest blood associated with inflammation, thin stagnant, congealed blood, tone the veins, stimulant the capillaries and arteries, and move the blood to or from the surface. Yarrow, the great ‘normalizer’ of the blood does all these things." (Matthew Wood, one of the more knowledgeable herbalists of our time)

The young leaves are also a nutritious addition to the diet and can be eaten raw or cooked in moderate amounts. It may increase photosensitivity in some people when used extensively in high amounts.

Not advised during pregnancy, as it can stimulate uterine activity.

here you see clearly why it is called "1000 leaves" in some languages

It fights its way in grass fields, as a true survivor

Here is a video from Learningherbs.com on identifying yarrow:

Yarrow herb: Achillea millefolium

Rosemary Gladstar shares with us her experiences on using yarrow medicinally:

Rosemary Gladstar Garden Wisdom's: Yarrow

And here you can get detailed information on yarrow:

Common Yarrow - Survival Plants Memory Course


Stellaria media
NL: Vogelmuur - F: Mouron des oiseaux

Also these ones can be found in most parts of the world, sprinkled over grass fields with their little cute flowers. It is available all year round in regions of mild winters. Young leaves  can be eaten raw in salads and smoothies. The cooked leaves function very well as spinach replacers in recipes.

It is rich in beta carotene and vitamin C and it contains also rutin, para amino benzoic acid (PABA), niacin, riboflavin (B2), thiamin (B1), magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium, zinc, phosphorus, manganese, sodium, selenium, and silicon.

Its richest part though are the seeds, containing 17.8% protein and 5.9% healthy fats. Very rich in GLA (gamma linolenic acid), a fat acid that is suggested to help relieve many conditions such as skin problems, hormonal imbalances, inflammatory diseases and rheumatic complaints. The seeds can be ground into a powder and used in making bread, pancakes or to thicken soups.

It is also a superb first aid plant, being used to treat cuts, wounds, and even to relieve the itching of bites and of psoriasis and eczema. It is also famous to help in weight control and water retention, probably by regulating thyroid function and balancing the metabolism. It is also known as liver tonic and it is said to reduce the negative effects of alcohol abuse.

Want to learn more about Chickweed? Here are some videos and links with more info:

Edible plants: Chickweed

Feral Kevin on Miner's Lettuce and Chickweed

Stellaria Media - Chickweed - Survival Plants Memory Course

Chickweed - Weekly Weeder

Chickweed - Wild Food and Medicines

Chickweed: a mid winter hero, from Return to Nature

Chickweed is a Star, by Susun Weed

5 Facts about Chickweeds - by JustBotanics


Bellis perennis
NL: Madelief - F: Pâquerette

This lovely little plant decorates our grass fields with their white flowers. It is perennial and the bees simply love it. Its leaves, flower buds and petals are edibles, raw or cooked. With their pleasant sour flavour they are great additions to salads, sandwiches and soups.

It is rich in vitamin C, calcium and magnesium.

This little plant can be extremely useful in first aid situations due to its wide range of applications combined with its abundant availability.

The leaves can be used in ointments (or simply freshly squeezed) to help healing bruises, cuts and wounds.

Its aerial parts have been used as a blood purifier and in the treatment of complaints of the respiratory tract, rheumatic pains, arthritis, liver and kidney disorders or heavy menstruation.

Chewing the fresh leaves can relieve mouth ulcers. Daisies also have a reputation for effectiveness in treating breast cancers. An infusion of the leaves can also be used as insect repellent spray.

The link bellow takes you to a video with additional information on daisies:

Sergei Boutenko - wild daisies - from thebestofrawfood.com

I also must share this lovely 30 seconds video - a time lapse of daisies opening up in the morning:

Time Lapse English Daisy

Ground Ivy

Glechoma hederacea
NL: Hondsdraf - F: Lierre terrestre

This delicate climbing plant makes for a great perennial soil cover. Its young leaves come up very early in the year and can be consumed raw, as in green juices and salads, or cooked, in soups, sauces, spreads, etc.

It has widespread medicinal use such as general tonic, anti-inflammatory, expectorant, pectoral and vermifuge. It helps reduce fever and it has been used for many centuries to treat problems involving the mucous membranes of the ear, nose, throat and digestive system. It is thus a great aid in the treatment of sinusitis.

Traditionally it is also known for treating hypersensitivity in children.

Externally it can be pressed into juice and used to help healing wounds and bruises.

Leaves can grow large in the shade

But they can also be very tiny when growing in grassfields
It is very rich in vitamin C, magnesium and iron. As a powerful medicinal plant we are advised to eat moderately only young leaves.

Avoid during pregnancy, in case of epilepsy and in kidney disease.

Crawling all over our garden

For more details and learning to recognize Ground Ivy, check out the videos on the links below:

Ground Ivy - by LuminEarth
Ground Ivy a.k.a. Creeping Charlie by SecretsofLongevity

For extensive information on Ground Ivy:

Glechoma hederacea: Survival Plants Memory Course