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

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Stinging Nettle

Urtica dioca
NL: Brandnetel / F: Ortie

Nettles are not only very nutritious but have also a long list of medicinal applications. They are rich in iron, silicon, magnesium, potassium, vitamins A and C. Dried nettles may contain up to 40% protein.

Fresh young leaves can be used cooked or blanched, what neutralizes the formic acid, rendering them safe to eat. They can replace spinach in recipes in oven dishes, stews, pastas, croquettes, etc.
Young shoots / stems harvested in springtime can be also very tasty. You may simply cook them for 3-5 minutes in a pan with olive oil.

Young shoots
Nettle seeds
Leaves and seeds can be dried in the shadow for winter use. Add its powder to enrich meals.  

Some herbal practitioners recommend nettle tea for pregnant women, which may help strengthen the muscles, reducing uterine pain. Due to its high mineral content and its high amounts of vitamin K it also helps prevent hemorrhage after childbirth.

Nettle has traditionally been used as a blood cleanser and general tonic. The plant has been used over centuries in the treatment of rheumatic conditions, anaemia, allergies, including hay fever and also to prevent and reduce internal and external bleeding. Its cleansing properties help in the treatment of a wide range of conditions, including psoriasis, acne, hives and various types of eczema.

Nettles always get a special place in my garden! ;-)

More on nettles:

HerbMentor: Nettles
Stinging Nettle - University of Maryland Medical Center
Urtica dioica: Alternative Medicine Review Thorne Research
Frank Cook on Nettle - very good video on the real value of nettles
The Stinging Truth about Nettles - by Barb Moody
Know Your Nettles: Great BBC article on National Be Nice to Nettles Week
Stinging Nettle: so many cures that you will lose count

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Chenopodium album
NL: Ganzenvoet - F: Chénopode blanc

Also known as Lamb's Quarters, this plant from the family of quinoa and amaranth is also a great pioneer, growing as one of first after a soil has been emptied of its vegetation or newly cultivated.

It is extremely nutritious, and a serving of 180g can cover 281% of one’s daily needs for vitamin A, 46% of one’s daily needs for calcium, 111% of vitamin C and 7% of one’s iron needs. It contains also around 10 times as much vitamin K as one would need per day. Its leaves contain around 12% of high quality protein, meaning that it contains all essential aminoacids. The seeds have about 49% carbohydrate and 16% protein.

Goosefoot is also rich in oxalic acid, so the leaves are best not eaten raw. In order to get the best of it, nutritionally, it is better to blanch the leaves and stems or steam them with a little water until tender (3-5 minutes), leaving the pan open, so that its oxalic acid can evaporate.

A beautiful variety with young leaves coming in pink
The leaves, seeds and stems are absolutely delicious, with a flavour that can be compared to spinach or chard.

The ripe, dried seed (not made into powder) can be stored in jars for consumption during winter time. They can be used soaked overnight and rinsed before using to remove the saponins. The seeds can also be sprouted and added to salads or ground into powder for enriching the meals. This powder can be added to pancakes, breads, rice, etc.

When eaten with beans, the leaves will act as a carminative to prevent gas formation.

Avoid harvesting it from soils overly rich in nitrates, as the leaves can accumulate high amounts of it.

It is not advised to be used by those with rheumatic conditions, arthritis, gout, hyperacidity and kidney stones. It should also not be taken during pregnancy.

To help you to properly identify goosefoot here are some short videos:

Wild Edibles: Lamb's Quarters

Identifying Lamb's Quarters

And here you find detailed info on goosefoot:

Chenopodium album: Survival Plants Memory Course


Taraxacum officinale
NL: Paardenbloem - F: Pissenlit

Well known for its long list of medicinal properties, this beautiful and powerful plant is also loaded with essential nutrients, which makes it a top plant in any survival situation.

It grows in most countries around the world, particularly in the temperate zones of the Northern hemisphere and withstands a wide array of soil types and weather conditions. It does not need any special care.  Dandelions are among the most nutritious greens that one can eat. Some raw foodists claim one could survive only eating dandelions if needed.

As food, it is very rich in vitamin A and C, calcium and iron. With only 55g of dandelions one meets 112% of his daily needs for vitamin A, 32% of the daily needs for vitamin C, 535% of the daily needs of vitamin K and about 10% of one’s daily needs for calcium and iron. It is also a good source of folate, magnesium, phosphorus and copper, and a very good source of Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, potassium and manganese.

young leaves are less bitter
Leaves and flowers can be used fresh, in salads, green juices, in vegetable pies, pancakes, with mashed potatoes, in soups, bread, etc. It has a bitter taste, being less strongly bitter when harvested before blooming.

The roots can also be eaten raw or can be dried to be used in herbal teas. they can still be roasted to make a tasty and rich dandelion coffee.

Its most well studied applications in herbal medicine are as liver and gall bladder tonic and cleanser, diuretic and depurative. As diuretic it adds potassium to the body, as opposed to most diuretics, helping to balance the mineral content in the blood, and it can also help bring blood pressure to normal levels.

Seeds ready to fly high and conquer the world

Dandelions also favors digestion and general metabolism, include glucose metabolism, so it can help with diabetes, as well as with weight loss. It has some antibacterial and anti-yeast action. Also a great herb to relieve PMS symptoms.

bees love it!

Here is a very good video on dandelions:

 Dandelions - Edible and medicinal uses

And here you can learn how and why to use dandelion greens in your smoothies:

10 Reasons to use Dandelion greens

More recipes with dandelions (I prefer to leave the flowers to the bees, who are facing lately a "food shortage", but the rest of the recipes seem great):

Eat the Weeds: Dandelions Hear Them Roar

More on how to preserve its roots:

Harvesting and preserving dandelion roots

And here two more extensive articles from other dandelion passionates:

The Health Benefits of the Humble Dandelion

Dandelion, my favorite spring herb - by Lesley Tierra

In the link below you will find an extensive description of dandelion and learn how to distinguish it from its look-alikes:

Survival Plants Memory Course: Taraxacum officinale

Here is a 20 minutes long video where Cascade Anderson Geller shares her knowledge on identifying, harvesting and using dandelions:

Dandelion, by HerbMentor

And last but not least, a video on how important dandelions are for healthy soils:

Dandelions on permaculture - Paul Wheaton