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

Friday, July 4, 2014

Crunchy & healthy snacks with wild leaves


Here is a very easy and delicious recipe that will convince everyone - even the kids! - to eat more wild greens. It is also a great way to shift to healthier snacks and it might help curb other undesirable food cravings - usually for junk.

You will need a food dehydrator for this recipe. It can be an electrical one or a solar one. There are many tutorials and videos on youtube on how to build a solar dehydrator using recycled materials. Some of those ideas work even in places where there is often not enough sun to get things dry, such as where I live. Some regular ovens can work on low temperatures, so if you have one of those that might also work out.

What you need for this recipe:

Wild leafy greens; freshly picked: dandelion, ground ivy, valerian, mint, etc.

Coating:

Tahine (sesame paste)
Sea salt
Coconut aminos, miso or tamari (all optional)
Water (or apple juice if you want to give it a sweet contrast) 
Herbs of your choice. I use rosemary, oregano, savory, thyme or other available aromatics
A pinch of chili
Lime zest + lime juice

Rinse the wild greens and dry them in a salad spinner. Mix the ingredients for the coating well until smooth. Dip each leaf in the liquid, making sure they are entirely covered with a thin layer of it and place them in the dehydrator trays. You may also work with teflex baking sheets over the trays, to protect the trays from getting too messy. Do not place leaves over one another. Dehydrate under 40°C to 45°C until crunchy (it may take from 2 to 5 hours, depending on how thick the coating is and how moist the air is outside. If you want an extra crunchy layer you can make sure the dip coating is thicker - but that will take much longer to get it dry. A thin layer will be also crunchy, but very fragile. When ready, take them out of the trays immediately and store them in a very good air tight container until the moment to be served. Sometimes after a few minutes after they are out of the dehydrator they start getting soft again. If they get soft again because you did not take them out of the dehydrator quick enough, just run the dehydrator half and hour extra and they will get back their crunchiness. 

Instead of tahine you can also use other nut or seed pastes (cashew, almonds, hazelnuts...). I sometimes add some hemp seeds to the coating dip, without mixing it. That gives a very nice texture to the snacks. 



Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Meadowsweet

Filipendula ulmaria


F: Reine des Près / NL: Moeraspirea

Also known in other languages as the “Queen of the Meadow” (Reine des Près), or as “nature’s aspirin”, Meadowsweet has always been highly esteemed in folk medicine. In Druid tradition, it was one of the three most sacred herbs, sharing the throne with Vervain and Valerian. The list of healing properties of Meadowsweet goes on and on in most herbal books. 

It is particularly known for its salycilate containing aspirin-like effects, relieving pain, inflammation and fevers. But the effects of meadowsweet have a much broader effect than the “aspirin” one can buy in drugstores and it does not present the usual side-effects aspirin-users experience. While concentrated aspirin tends to lead to gastric ulcers, depending on the dosage, meadowsweet infusion (or as tincture) seems to have a protective and healing effect on the protective layer of the stomach, being used to effectively treat gastric ulcers. This is a clear example of how the healing properties of a plant cannot be singled out to a particular substance - in the beautifully arranged plant alchemy every substance plays its essential role.


Meadowsweet is used in herbal medicine as astringent, antiseptic, tonic and it has cooling
and drying properties. It is used to treat diarrhoea, hyperacidity, heartburn, common cold, cough, bronchitis, headaches, arthritis and other painful conditions. Some herbalists use it also to reduce the symptoms of certain infectious conditions such as measles, chickenpox, diphtheria and pneumonia. For its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties it can also be used to alleviate cystitis, urethritis and other urinary ailments. It is said to “soften” hardenings such as kidney stones or hardened blood vessels.

Externally it can be used to heal wounds or skin inflammations. 

The flowering plant can be harvested and dried or tinctured for further use. 

Below you will find various enriching articles and a video on the wonders of meadowsweet:



Filipendula ulmaria - Great monograph by Herbal Medicine with Natasha Richardson


Meadowsweet: Queen of the meadow - Methow Valley Herbs

Meadowsweet elixir - LearningHerbs.com

Meadowsweet cordial - Wilde in the Woods

Meadowsweet ointment - Wilde in the Woods


In each seed, a new plant can come to life! I love giving seeds as presents. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Periwinkle

Vinca minor

F: petite pervenche / NL: kleine maagdenpalm

Periwinkle (or minor periwinkle) is a commonly seen as ground cover in both medicinal as ornamental gardens. It has been employed as folk medicine for more than thousand years. It is currently known in herbalism as a replacement of gingko biloba. Similarly to gingko, periwinkle activates blood circulation and it acts as vasodilator, improving blood flow to the tissues and therefore increasing cell metabolism. It enhances various brain functions such as concentration, memory; it reduces anxiety, nervousness and it relieves tinnitus and headaches. It can thus be used to prevent early ageing of the brain cells, such as observed in dementia or Alzheimer. While gingko must be avoided by those using blood thinning drugs or those with a general tendency to bleeding, periwinkle does not have the same counter-indications. Its action stimulating blood flow seems to be balanced by its high tannin content, which has an astringent effect, making it useful also to stop bleeding.

Next to that, periwinkle has also analgesic, hypotensive, antispasmodic, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It is also known in herbal medicine to help treating various rheumatoid conditions, fibromyalgia, to reduce blood pressure and heavy menstruation. Also used as astringent to help treating diarrhoea and sore throat.

Externally it can be used to disinfect and help wound healing. Also great in mouthwash, to treat bleeding gums, toothache and canker sores. 

Its leaves, flowers and roots are all used in folk medicine, fresh or dried, in infusions, tincture, capsule or extract.

Vinca minor, or periwinkle, is a strong plant native from all over Europe, hardy from zones 4 to 9. It is considered to be invasive, as it grows quickly conquering any territory it finds ahead. If you want to contain its growth, harvest it regularly and use it in infusions to improve blood flow and general brain performance - or if you don’t need it, offer it to friends and family that could benefit from it. What a wonderful present it can be!

A chemical in periwinkle called vincamine can be converted (in laboratory) to the compound vinpocetine, which is sold as a dietary supplement. This isolated extract might have some stronger counter indications, as it does not contain the other substances found in the whole herb. 

Periwinkle should be avoided during pregnancy and lactation.


Here is a video-tour to help you to identify this plant:

Periwinkle - Vinca minor - Helen Linda Drake


More on periwinkle: