Eco-Living: Healing Power

Seven native plants and their uses  

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinaleProbably the most common herb around, dandelion is overlooked as a common weed in most parts of the world. Yet, this hearty plant has amazing medicinal qualities. The root is often used as a diuretic and for stimulating liver and kidney function. Its leaves are also very high in potassium.

Elderberry (SambucusHerbalist David Hoffmann calls the elder tree “a medicine chest in its own right,” because of the numerous health benefits that these trees provide. Most commonly known for the powerful antiviral properties of the berries, the tree’s flowers are also effective in colds and upper respiratory issues, while the leaves can be used topically for bruises and strains.

Manzanita (ArctostaphylosThe leaves of this beautiful red tree are an amazingly effective treatment against poison oak when made into a tea and applied topically. Internally, the tea can be used to treat urinary tract infections.

Mugwort (ArtemisiaAlthough mugwort can be used as a bitter to stimulate digestion, and as a nervine to treat mild anxiety and depression, it is also sometimes added to herbal blends for smoking. My personal favorite use is to induce vivid dreams by placing a few fresh or dried leaves under my pillow.

Nettle (Urtica dioicaMost hikers avoid nettle because of the stinging rash that occurs when it comes in contact with the skin, but this super plant is beneficial when taken internally. Traditionally consumed as a spring tonic, nettle leaves are high in iron and are tasty in soup, tea or dried and added to savory baked goods.

Plantain (PlantagoKnown in herbalist circles as “nature’s band-aid,” most parents know that chewing on this leafy weed and applying it to a skinned knee can help the wound heal quickly. Plantain can also be used as a gentle expectorant.

Yarrow (Achillea millefoliumThis flowering plant is commonly used to treat fevers, and also stimulates digestion. Additionally, yarrow has anti-inflammatory properties and has been used to treat common colds.

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