Friday, June 8, 2012

Wild Medicine--Part I

Summer seems to be officially upon us (well, almost officially). You know how I can tell?  The wild flowers have truly grown wild.  Many are in full bloom.  In the fields, in the forests, and in my unkempt backyard.  Truth be told I prefer an unkempt backyard.  Many wildflowers are actually wild medicine, which means my backyard is actually an apothecary. 

This week I'll be introducing you to some of these wonderful wild medicines.  Many of them you are probably familiar with.  Ever search for a four-leaf clover?  They not only bring good luck, but good health as well.  Red clover (Trifolium pratense) blossoms in particular are an incredibly powerful medicine.  It is primarily used as an alterative, or blood cleanser, but has great applications as an antispasmodic as well.  Why clean the blood?  To increase circulation, improve urine output, and increase bile that's why!  Hint: These are all key factors in detoxification.  The antispasmodic properties of red clover helps ease summer colds by loosening up phlegm and calming pesky coughs.  Not only that, but it contains a high amount of nutrients (think super multi-vitamin) and is well-known for its benefits for fertility.

Another great thing about this herb is that it is everywhere!  Every state in the U.S., in fact.  Usually blooming from early summer through early fall, it is hard to over-harvest.  Gather the bright pink blossoms just after the dew has dried up, always leaving the third blossom alone.  Even wild medicine needs to be harvested ethically!  Avoid gathering right near roadsides, instead diving deep into your favorite field, meadow, or wild backyard space.  You can dry them to use in tea or other herbal preparation, or simply eat them raw.  Be sure to research contraindications in your favorite herb book, and have fun!  Wild medicine hunting is a great way to connect with nature and yourself.

Happy Gathering!

Kristin Henningsen M.S., C.H., R.Y.T.


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