Weeds or Medicine??

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Are you spending hours in your yard pulling weeds or pulling up medicine??

Have you ever thought of your weeds as medicine? Probably not, but let me tell you about some interesting things I’ve been learning!

Are You Eating Weeds??

Years ago when my grandfather visited our home, he went to our garden, picked the “weeds”, and brought them in to cook for dinner.

We were shocked and let him eat all of this delicacy on his own, then retold this “crazy grandpa” story for years. 

Well, I need to apologize to my grandpa!

I now save, eat, and use the weeds for medicine. He grew up during the Great Depression, and I’m sure his family used everything they could for food and medicine. There is a lot to be learned from generations past.

Weeds or Medicine?

I’m going to teach you all about those “weeds”, which ones are good for eating and medicine and how to use them.

I am certainly an expert in weed pulling, but I am still learning the best ways to use these plants for food and medicine.

I’ll share what I know about three plants you can find in your yard TODAY!

Dandelion

Those yellow flowers you thought were weeds your whole life are actually a superfood! Here’s the health benefits of dandelions and how to eat them, including making a delicious dandelion tea.

Health Benefits:

  • High in Vitamin A, C, E and Potassium
  • Great as a liver or kidney tonic. They help balance hormones and clear up skin issues.
  • Treats bladder infections
  • Helps you urinate more, thus controlling high blood pressure
  • The greens are more nutritious than kale or spinach and full of calcium!
  • Helps lower cholesterol
  • Provides food for our gut- a prebiotic. Helps with digestion.

How to use it:

  • The entire plant is edible, but everything is more tasty when it’s young in the spring.  
  • Make sure to only harvest leaves or flowers that haven’t been sprayed with weed killer or fertilizer
  • Blanch the greens in boiling, salted water with 1 t baking soda for 2 minutes.  Remove and saute the greens in oil and garlic for eating.

Dandelion Tea– use the root, so pull up as much as possible when pulling the plant. 

  • Will treat digestive issues, gallstones, inflammation, muscle aches, and bloating.
  • Use either fresh or dried dandelion roots for tea.
  1. Chop the roots or use dried roots, add 2 t to a pan with 2 C boiling water.  
  2. Boil for 10 minutes.
  3. Strain out the root and add honey or other sweetener to the tea to taste (dandelion is quite bitter).

Purslane

Are these weeds or medicine?? Definitely the latter! It’s a shame that purslane is either pulled out as a pest or ignored.

It’s great food that can be found growing in nearly every yard around the world, and has been named one of two most nutritious plants in the world by Michael Pollan in one of my favorite books, In Defense of Food.

Health benefits:

  • More omega-3 fatty acids than any other leafy vegetable.
  • Excellent source of Vitamin A, C, E
  • High in calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium
  • Can be used as a substitute for aloe vera in burns and venomous bites
  • It’s great for strengthening hair or coats on animals
  • Good for any inflammatory ailment like arthritis
  • High levels of melatonin, a hormone that’s great for regulating sleep.

How to use it:

  • The leaves, stems, flower buds and seeds of purslane are all edible
  • It can be eaten raw and cooked, in salads, juices, sandwiches, dips, pesto, stir fries, quiches, soups, curries, stews, sauces and more.
  • Sauteed purslane is great tossed in a pan with lemon juice, olive oil, and a pinch of salt.

Mallow

Every spring, the first signs of life in my garden is Mallow. You probably have them too.

They invade lawns, landscapes, parkways, parking lots, drainage ditches, and all nooks and crannies when the weather is cool and damp. This plant is also a powerhouse of medicine and nutrition.  

Health benefits:

  • It is a dimulcant which means it’s soothing for mucous membranes like your gut and throat.
  • Heals digestive and urinary tract irritations
  • Controls coughs caused by inflammation.
  • Good for insect bites and swollen muscles, as well as gangrene.
  • Gargle: can gargle the tea multiple times for dry throat, gum inflammation & toothache

How to use it:

  • The entire plant is edible and medicinal
  • Mallow can be dried/toasted and used as tea, or used to give soups a thicker body. 
  • The fruits can be eaten raw, and can be pickled like capers 
  • The seeds are also edible 
  • Cold Infusion: Fill a jar ¼ way up with chopped root.  Fill the jar with luke-warm water. Let sit overnight.
  • Strain off the root and use the thick liquid as a rinse, tea, gargle or skin wash.

Go into your yard, look for one of these three plants, and make some nutritious food or medicine! It’s not strange… it’s a great way to be healthy!

You CAN take charge of your health, for pennies or FREE using all of those delicious weeds my grandpa introduced me to years ago.  

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Enjoy!

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen

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