One of the things that I have loved the most about living on land out here in the country is the availability of resources for healing I can find just by simply stepping off the back porch. After researching about some of the plants and trees I was seeing a lot of on our land, I found out that I could be using them for a variety of health-promoting purposes.
If you live in the midwest, you might be familiar with hedge apple, osage orange or hedge ball trees. Their official name is Maclura Pomifera and they are known for dropping brightly colored neon yellow/ green balls that have seeds inside them which deer, squirrels and other wildlife like to eat. Along with the seeds, there is oil inside the balls called pomifera oil. Todd Johnson, a PhD chemist from the University of Indiana has found pomifera oil to be useful in helping skin conditions such as rosacea, psoriasis and eczema, along with healing cold sores and acne, lessening wrinkles and speeding up wound repair. When I first heard about these properties being in the oil I decided to do an experiment. Our german shepherd, Leche, had an irritated spot on her side that she would gnaw at from time to time. As I would run her most days, and always past some hedge apples, I figured it was worth a try to rub some of the oil on her each time we went. Sure enough, after 2-3 weeks of doing this almost daily, her spot was almost completely gone and then healed up after consequent applications. The balls can also be used as a natural insecticide if placed around areas you might want to ward off bugs.
There are also a few weeds that I like to forage for, especially in the spring and summer seasons:
Plantain- not to be confused with the banana like starch, when talking about the weed it comes in two different varieties (Broad leaf and Narrow leaf) and looks like this:
Some of the benefits of plantain are helping to relieve cold and flu-like symptoms, as a remedy for snake and insect bites, and as an anti-inflammatory to help relieve pain from skin rashes or cuts. I like to use the leaves in my salads in the summertime. They have a spinach like taste and consistency, but a little more bitter.
I also make a healing salve from drying the leaves up and grinding them into a herbal powder and then infusing the powder in oil and adding beeswax. Plantain is known for its healing properties and relief to any kind of itchiness on the skin. In a pinch, you can even chew up a plantain leaf and then rub the chewed up leaf on your skin to relieve itchiness. Yep, you heard that right! Chew it up, spit it out, and then rub it in! And yes, I have done this.
Dandelion- most people have this delight growing somewhere on their property and I used to despise it before I knew about its amazing properties. There are a lot of benefits but I will just mention a few: Aids digestion, detoxes the liver, can help stabilize blood sugar and blood pressure, and helps to boost immunity. You can use the leaves, roots and even the flowers. I enjoy using the leaves in a salad and making tea from the roots. The tea has an almost coffee-like taste to it, which I really enjoy.
Purslane- this was another weed that took me by surprise just because I had previously found it so annoying while tending my garden. It turns out that it has the highest level of omega 3 fatty acids than any other leafy plant. As it can be hard to get enough omega 3 in our diets, I found this fascinating and exciting.
Other common edible weeds that you might find in your yard: Red clover, Garlic grass, Sorrel, Watercress, Burdock, Chickweed and Lamb’s quarters.
I have found foraging to be a fun activity to do with the kids too. They get to learn about plants that are edible and useful and they are able to pick leaves fairly easily.
Recipe for Dandelion or Plantain Salad
2 -3 cups of dandelion and/ or plantain leaves, washed
1 cup of chopped celery
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1/3 cup of dried fruit (apricots or cranberries work well)
chopped bacon (optional)
Equal parts Olive Oil, Apple Cider Vinegar, and Dijon Mustard. Whisk together for a delicious addition to any salad!
I am a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner who works one on one with clients to support their whole health and wellness. I have also previously worked as a Weight loss Coach and a Certified Group Exercise Instructor.
I was born in Australia and grew up there and in Asia before moving to the U.S. in my late teens. Before moving to rural Missouri, I was a city girl through and through.
I love researching and reading about holistic nutrition and functional movement. I also enjoy hiking, running, weight lifting and going on nature walks and ATV rides with my kids for fun.
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