Wild plants of the backyard, field and forest used in healing remedies 

Published 9:54 pm Thursday, March 7, 2019

Whenever I think of the many wild weeds that have healing power in their leaves, bark or flowers, I am reminded of a phrase from one of my favorite treatises, called Desiderata: 

     “Listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they, too, have their story.” 

     And the story of how the Creator spoke into existence every living thing with a distinct purpose inspires awe and wonder in me every day. 

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

     That is why I find intriguing the worthiness of such wild plants as these that are all around us in fens, fissures, fields and forestlands. 

     Blood Rootsome folks called it Indian Red Paint. When the root was removed from soil and cut, it appeared to “bleed.” Root and lower stalk was gathered in early spring and dried, then ground into a powder. Especially effective for chest disorders of all kinds, as a stomach tonic and, when mixed with lard, applied to wounds and sores. 

     Bonesetperhaps the most ubiquitous weed herb that grew everywhere. It was the most widely used for a great variety of ailments and no home would be without dried boneset to make a tea for one aliment or another. 

     Coneflowermost often called Echinacea in modern times, it was widely used for blood impurity diseases, such as boils, pus formations, sores and infectious wounds. It gave relief for ulcer pain and other gastro-intestinal ills. It was easily eliminated and had no toxic or other undesirable side effects. Used today with goldenseal root to support a healthy immune system function. 

     Coltsfootthe botanical name for this plant, Tussilago, means “cough dispeller and it was one of the very finest herbal cough medicines with the best taste to boot. Plant was one of first to bloom in spring, with small flower stalks like asparagus. Cough drops and syrup were made from new leaves and a strong tea from dried ones. 

     Ginsengmost widely used for loss of appetite or stomach and digestive problems caused by mental and nervous exhaustion, and to stimulate perspiration. Used for eyesight difficulties like double vision or gray spots before the eyes that caused dizziness. Used in a strong tea for pain in the lower back, lumbago and rheumatism. 

     Jewell Weedwas the very best treatment for poison ivy and grew alongside the toxic plant in most areas. It was also used as a diuretic to flush the kidneys and helped in cases of jaundice and dropsy. Fresh plants were boiled in lard for an ointment for hemorrhoids. 

     Juniper Berrywas widely used as an herbal drink to stimulate the kidneys; as a female douche; as a treatment for diseases of the prostate gland, and treatment for social diseases. Whole berries were chewed to disinfect the mouth and throat. 

     Sassafraswas a tree that produced oil for internal and external uses—internally, to purify the blood and cleanse the entire system; externally, for various skin conditions and varicose vein ulcers. 

     Stinging Nettlethis hated weed had unbelievably useful and healthful attributes. Loaded with numerous vitamins, it was a healthy green salad for humans but animals would not eat it. When dried, ground into powder and added to feed, it was voraciously eaten and was a strong tonic for them. 

     Wild Carrot—perhaps best known as Queen Anne’s– lace, a tea made from the roots, foliage and seeds of this weed was widely used to clear natural ducts of the body and as a valuable remedy for dropsy, chronic kidney diseases and problems of the bladder. 

     Yarrowwas so widely used as a styptic in stopping blood flow in wounds and helping them to heal that some folks called it “woundswort.” It was also widely used in a hot herbal drink for treating severe colds, fevers and the early stages of measles. 

     Yellow Rootwas best known for constricting or tightening the blood vessels and for treating running secretions of mucous membranes, especially inflamed stomach conditions. Was used as a tonic for improving conditions of the liver as well.