More Medicinal Weeds
In a previous article we shared the anti-microbial properties of medicinal weeds – Farmer’s Friends (Bidens sp.), and Sida (Sida sp.). Another broad acting anti-microbial ‘weed’ commonly found in this area is the Old Man’s Beard (Usnea sp.). This is the greeny/grey lichen which sweeps down from the branches of sparsely leaved trees.
Old Man’s Beard
Old Man’s Beard has a plethora of therapeutic actions in the body. This medicinal weed is active against multiple bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi. Due to its anti-microbial properties it is very effective in treating gut infections, as well as topical presentations for the skin, eyes, sinus infections, and as a douche for thrush. Old Man’s Beard is also an analgesic (pain reliever), antioxidant, and immunostimulant.
The anti-inflammatory action of Old Man’s Beard has been employed traditionally in treating skin rashes including nappy rash, often in the form of a soothing poultice. The active ingredients can be extracted by steeping the herb in hot water.
Another local medicinal weed is chickweed (Stellaria media). Many people believe that they have chickweed growing in their garden, however there are several similar looking species which do not have medicinal effects, so please be sure to correctly identify any weeds before using or ingesting.
Chickweed is a good source of chlorophyll and is used medicinally to treat intestinal ulcers, is anti-rheumatic, and a great wound healer. When applied to the skin it is soothing and healing for any itchy conditions and can help to prevent scars.
How to eat Chickweed
Chickweed can be eaten as a food by simply adding a generous handful to soups, smoothies or salads. Turning your food into medicine in this way will certainly help to soothe any intestinal inflammation that may be present.
How lucky we are to have these potent medicinal herbs growing so abundantly, often just at our doorsteps.
Writer Val Iwaszko Mullum Herbals