- German & Roman Chamomile (Matricaria recutita & Chamomilla nobile)
- Chickweed (Stellaria Media)
- Dandelion (Taraxacum Officinalis)
- Ribwort Plantain (Plantago lanceolata)
- Garlic (Allium Sativum)
Table of Contents
German and Roman Chamomile
(Matricaria recutita and Chamomilla nobile)
Roman Chamomile growing in the garden
Description: tall slender annual herbaceous plant growing up to 2ft, with feather like leaves; light green to a dusty pale green in colour. Chamomile has very aromatic white and yellow flowers.
Habitat: Chamomile can and has naturalized in certain places around North America; it is not a native species though. It can be grown easily from seed and will continue to self seed year after year. Seeds can be sown in either the spring or fall; plants are frost hardy and undemanding.
Parts used/Collection: All aerial parts can be used but the freshly opened flower heads are the best to use; these can be used fresh or dried for later. Chamomile flowers June to August and can be harvested continually. Dry flower heads away from direct sunlight in mildly ventilated area.
Actions and Uses: Carminative, Anti-spasmodic, anti-inflammatory, mild sedative or relaxant, anti-allergic and vulnerary. Chamomile is safe to use on children and infants; it can be used for all GIT upsets (i.e. dyspepsia, gas, bloating, pain, ulcers); it reduces stomach acidity and inflammation and promotes healing. Chamomile can help with muscle tension, allergies and skin inflammations like eczema; to help relieve irritability and promote sleep, especially in children.
Applications: Chamomile can be used internally as a tea, tincture, syrup, and honey or wine infusion. Chamomiles external applications can be poultice, liniment, salve or cream.
Energetics: Chamomile has the affinity for the lungs, stomach, intestines, liver, uterus, nerves, ear, noses and throat. Chamomiles tastes are somewhat bitter and sweet, cool and neutral, it has relaxing, claming, stimulating, restoring, decongesting and dissolving effects.
Contraindications: History of allergies to Aster family.
Description: Chickweed is a trailing herbaceous annual growing to 15-30cm; leaves are smooth and waxy while stems have one line of straight hairs running vertically. Chickweed is succulent when young; growing fibrous with age. Star like white flowers turn quickly into green seed pods.
Habitat: Found everywhere in North America, most of the time in the places you wish it wasn’t. Grows easily in waste ground, beside any water source, hedgerows and along fences; chickweed likes cool, wet climates so starts early in spring and will have a second flush in the early fall and in certain climes found growing throughout the winter.
Parts used and Collection: All aerial parts are used and can be eaten fresh in salads. Collect before seed pods start to form either in early spring or fall and if kept trimmed will continue to produce new shoots throughout year. Dry Chickweed in well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight; discard any brown or otherwise discoloured or damaged pieces after drying.
Actions and Uses: Demulcent (soothing to the mucous membranes), Emollient (soothing to the skin), Antipruritic (stops itching), Vulnerary (wound healing). Chickweed can be used for any and all skin inflammations (e.g. eczema, psoriasis, cradle cap, acne, nettle stings, sunburns), the symptoms of gout and to promote the healing of varicose ulcers, hemorrhoids. Chickweed can also be used as a dietary supplement; due to the large amount of Coumarins and vitamins A, B, C.
Applications: Chickweed can be taken internally as an infusion, fresh/dry tincture, fresh juice and eaten fresh; externally it can be used as a poultice, salve, cream or macerated oil.
Contraindications: Not formally a “contraindication” but a caution to be aware of is the sustained internal use during pregnancy, eating fresh plant matter is perfectly safe during all trimesters while sustained concentrated doses are ill advised.
Description: Dandelion is an herbaceous perennial growing 20in, with a basal rosette leaf structure. Leaves are deeply serrated lance shaped with little to no stalk. Flower stalks are hollow and secrete milky latex; flowers are yellow with multiple feathery petals.
Habitat: Grows almost everywhere on the planet, can grow in any soil type and will easily propagate itself from seed, root cutting or leaf.
Parts used/Collection: all parts of the plant are edible and medicinal. Leaves are best collected for eating during the early-mid spring before flowers start to appear; if using for medicine any time is fine. Flowers are best collected just after opening. Roots should be collected in the spring or fall of the second year of growth; keep in mind though these are the ideal times to harvest but anytime and at any stage with Dandelion are great times to harvest.
Actions and Uses: Leaf- Diuretic, Bitter, Astringent. Root- Hepatic, Diuretic, Bitter, Choleretic. Flower- Tonic, nutritive, diuretic. Dandelion can be used for liver and gallbladder congestion, to help prevent or dissolve gallstones and kidney stone prevention. Dandelion is helpful in flatulence, bloating, constipation and for skin problems e.g. acne, eczema, psoriasis, gout. Dandelion is one of the best and plentiful herbs used for all detoxification of the body and is very nutritive.
Applications: Dandelion can be used internally as a tea, tincture, honey, syrup, and capsule; externally it can be applied as a salve, cream or poultice.
Energetics: Dandelion has an affinity for the liver, gallbladder, spleen, pancreas, intestines, kidneys, interstitial fluid and blood; it’s tastes are bitter, somewhat salty and sweet, cold and dry. Dandelion has softening, dissolving, restoring, decongesting, calming and sinking effects.
Contraindications: Bile duct obstruction, cholecystitis, intestinal obstructions.
Description: Plantain is a small perennial herbaceous plant that grows up to 40cm; growing normally in a vertical rosette formation. Leaves have little to no stalk and have 3-7 ribs that join to form the fibrous stalk. The flowers are a long spike that is black turning to pale brown; growing 30-60cm.
Habitat: Grows along roadsides, in ditches and disturbed compacted ground; in fields open grasslands and close to marshes or bodies of water. Found throughout North America. Plantain can be grown easily from seed, division or rootlets.
Parts used/Collection: All aerial parts are used including seeds and flowering tops. Plant is best collected while flowers are still black; dry in well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight. Discard any leaves or flowers that are brown or otherwise discoloured or damaged after drying.
Actions and Uses: Anti-inflammatory, Astringent, Vulnerary (wound healing), Demulcent (soothing to mucous membranes), Expectorant (helping to remove phlegm from the respiratory system). Plantain can be used for wounds/cuts/scrapes/bruises, insect bites/stings, hayfever, coughs/colds, sore throat and dry persistent cough; all GIT (gastro-intestinal) inflammations e.g. colitis, gastritis, ulcers and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).
Applications: Plantain can be used internally as an infusion, fresh/dry tincture, fresh juice, as a syrup or honey infusion and externally as a poultice, salve, cream or macerated oil. For best results use fresh/local plant preparations.
Energetics: Plantain has an affinity for the lungs, intestines, bladder, kidneys, blood and skin. Its tastes are salty, astringent, bitter, cold, moist and dry. It has calming, stabilizing, restoring and decongesting effects.
Garlic (and other Allium spp. are great companion plants for veggies. Their strong odor masks the smell of other plants that insects want to eat.
Description: A large perennial herb growing to 1-3 ft tall. Stalks are hollow; leaves are long dark green lance shaped and flowers are small white/green to pale pink found in clusters.
Habitat: Originally from Central Asia, Garlic is now grown worldwide. Garlic can be grown easily from a corm; is undemanding, drought tolerant, frost resistant and will grow in any soil type.
Parts used/Collection: The garlic blub is traditionally used but the stalks and flowers are edible and delicious. Collect late in the following summer/early fall.
Actions and Uses: Antimicrobial, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, hypotensive, hypcholestrolaemic, hypolipidaemic, antioxidant, hypoglcaemic, expectorant and diaphoretic. Garlic has numerous health benefits for the heart, circulation and immune system. Garlic reduces blood sugar levels and can help with diabetes; it can help prevent circulatory problem, control lipid levels and blood pressure. Garlic can be used to boost immunity at early signs of infection, for any type of chest infection, ear infection and to help encourage growth of healthy bowel flora. Garlic can be used in conjunction with antibiotics to support their actions and help moderate their side effects. Topically Garlic can be used against fungal infections and bacterial skin infections.
Applications: Fresh Garlic has the wonderful function of coming in pill form already so take advantage of this! Internally garlic can be taken as a food additive, tincture or honey; externally it can be used as a poultice, infused oil, cream and salve.
Energetics: Garlic has an affinity for the lungs, intestines, spleen-pancreas, liver, heart, uterus and arterial/venous circulation. Garlics tastes are very pungent, sweet, salty, aromatic, hot and very dry; it has stimulating, dispersing, decongesting, dissolving and diluting effects.
Contraindications: None unless prior allergy is known.