Monday, May 9, 2011
By Steven Horne, RH(AHG)
As the weather warms up, weeds are popping out of the ground all over North America. Most people spend a lot of time and money trying to kill these plants, but before you start breaking out the weed spray (a natural, biodegradable non-toxic one I hope!) you may want to consider how you can use these plants for food and medicine, because they’re a lot more useful than most people think!
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “A weed is a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.” If you believe as I do, in a loving and all wise Creator, then perhaps there is a reason why plants like dandelion, purslane, plantain, oxalis, common mallows and thistles may be popping up in your lawn and yard. Here are some things to consider.
Weeds as Medicine
First, are any of the weeds in your yard medicines that you need? Many native people believed that the Creator provided for our needs in nature. It’s a Biblical idea, too, as in the admonition to “consider the lilies of the field.” Weeds may be growing near our homes because we need them. They are there to help us with our physical and emotional problems.
Take dandelions, for example. Dandelion root is a great liver remedy. It’s a blood purifier, which means it helps the liver process environmental toxins. Dandelion leaf is a great kidney remedy. Rich in potassium, it is a non-irritating diuretic that helps to flush toxins through the kidneys. Both the root and the leaf are good for the stomach, helping promote digestive secretions to ease indigestion.
In my healing work, I find that three of the organs that tend to be under the most stress in modern society are the stomach, liver and kidneys. Eighty percent of the people I consult with have a primary weakness in one of these three organs. So, Nature is providing a plentiful and completely free remedy that could help many people’s primary health problems and they are doing their best to poison and get rid of them.
The same can be said for most other garden weeds. When I was younger, I saw a package of “weed and feed” at the local garden shop and it had pictures of sixteen different weeds it killed. Glancing at the package I knew that 14 of those plants were useful, either as food or medicine. I didn’t know any use for the other two at the time, but I’ve since learned that they also have medicinal benefits.
Besides dandelion, common garden weeds that have medicinal properties include plantain, shepherd’s purse, bugleweed, docks, oxalis or wood sorrel, clover, ground ivy, chickweed, nettles, pineapple weed, yarrow, ground ivy, purslane, chickory, burdock, puncture vine, mullein, mallows, teasel and thistles.
Many the aforementioned medicinal weeds are also edible. Other common edible weeds include storks bill, lambs quarter, pigweed and salsify. If the truth be told, many of the weeds people try to get rid of in their gardens are probably more nutritious than many of the vegetables they’re trying to grow.
Weeds as Soil Conditioners
A second thing you should consider about weeds is that various weeds thrive in differing soil conditions. In fact, the use of toxic chemicals in your yard may actually be encouraging the growth of certain types of weeds, which are there to “detoxify” the soil. Many of the weeds that strongly resist chemical poisons, such as thistles (milk thistle or blessed thistle), dandelion and burdock are used to help rid our bodies of toxic chemicals.
Several years ago I picked up a couple of great books from Acres, USA about weeds. I learned how different soil imbalances will cause certain weeds to grow. These weeds are actually trying to correct soil deficiencies of various minerals or other soil imbalances. For instance, weeds like plantain and morning glory grow in soil that is too compact. They loosen up the soil.
When I looked up the weeds growing in my garden I learned several things. First, that there was not enough organic material in the soil and a lack of enzyme activity. I also learned my soil was deficient in calcium. As I have adjusted my soil, the types of weeds growing in my yard have actually changed! So, weeds can help us learn how to balance the soil and make it healthier.
If you’d like to learn more about this check out the article Weed the Soil, Not the Crop at Acres, USA. You can also pick up a couple of the books I purchased, Weeds and Why They Grow and Weeds: Control without Poisons.
Weeds as Teachers
Many of our common garden weeds are not native to North America. They followed European settlers to this land and spread as our culture spread. Dandelions, for instance, are not native to North America, but now grow everywhere. Plantain was called “white man’s foot” by some Native Americans because it sprung up wherever the white man walked.
These weeds follow us around because they have things to teach us. Take dandelion, for instance. The flower essence of dandelion is for people who “over strive and over plan their lives.” They are tense because they don’t know how to relax and “go with the flow.” People who need dandelion carry too much tension in their body. They need to learn to be more playful and easy-going. Does that sound like a lot of people you know in our society? Maybe it even sounds like you?
Since I love dandelions, I chose them as the feature herb for this week. You can read my article on the many uses for this much-despised “weed” at tree of lite. I also chose the formula Herbal Trace Minerals, because it contains dandelion as a principle ingredient.