In my last blog post, I highlighted some of my favorite backyard wild plants for a spring salad. This month’s blog features some of my favorite backyard medicine chest allies! All of the following plants are in my apothecary, so if you can’t find them but would still like to work with them, please reach out to me to place an order or take a workshop.
Yarrow Achillea millifolium Yarrow helps to heal wounds quickly, cleaning and clotting fresh blood while relieving the pain of a new cut or bruise. This is a fantastic ally to have outside your kitchen in case of a knife accident when cooking. You can apply the fresh leaves or an infused oil or salve. A hot cup of Yarrow tea induces sweating and relieves colds and flus, while a cold cup of Yarrow tea supports the digestion and kidneys. Blended into sitz baths, pelvic steams, and tinctures, Yarrow can aid uterine health, moon cycle balance, and perineal tears. The flower essence provides protection, particularly to empaths, creating a strong energetic boundary.
Plantain Plantago major The latin name means foot, and this ally is found profusely among backyards, under foot where people walk.The leaves are the shape of a foot and can actually be placed inside your shoe to relieve tired sore feet. Plantain’s mucilaginous juice helps to draw out, soothe, and cool hot wet infections (internally or externally). Chewing a piece of plantain releases this cooling gel which can then be applied directly to a bee sting, insect bite, or splinter. A Plantain Apple Cider Vinegar infusion is a delicious salad topping and also an excellent wash for cuts, bruises, burns, and rashes. The tincture is also supportive for digestive issues, hot dry coughs, old stuck phlegm, ulcers, or inflamed infected gums.
Self-Heal Prunella Vulgaris Self-Heal or Heal-All, does as the name suggests; she is another incredibly quick wound healer. Applied directly or as an infused oil or salve, Self-Heal works to clot the blood, clean and draw out any infection, and heal fresh cuts. Self-Heal can also alleviate coughs, stomachaches, muscle pain, and liver heat. Self-Heal Flower essence supports people’s inner strength and a deep trust and faith in the body's ability to heal and recover from dis-ease, emotional distress, or spiritual overwhelm.
St. Joan’s Wort Hypericum Perforatum St. Joan’s (John’s) Wort was the first plant ally that I consciously formed a spirit relationship with. Their bright buds start flowering around the solstice, and their gifts are many! The infused oil turns a beautiful red and deeply nourishes and soothes muscles, nerves, and skin, acts as a mild sunscreen and also provides sunburn relief. A tincture supports healthy liver detox, lifts depression, and relieves muscle and nerve pain. St. Joan’s Wort flower essence offers light, courage and protection, especially from nightmares.
Usnea Usnea spp. Although not often found in someone’s backyard, Usnea is abundant in most forests, a soft sage green lichen that grows very slowly, usually on trees, bushes, and rocks. Because of its slow growth period, it’s never recommended to harvest when growing directly on a tree, but rather from downed branches or when fallen on the forest floor after a storm. Usnea is an incredible natural antibiotic who helps to move hot damp conditions, alleviating respiratory infections, phlegmy wet coughs, and sore throats, reducing congested pain and fevers. Usnea is also worked with to alleviate urinary tract infections and vaginal infections. To draw out its alcohol soluble usnic acid as well as its water soluble polysaccharides, the best Usnea medicine is made from a double extraction tincture.
Red Clover Trifolium pretense Red clover flowers are slightly sweet and fun to munch on.They are full of vitamins and anti-tumor compounds that help prevent and fight cancer. Red clover infused oil supports the lymph and helps to break down cysts when massaged with regularly. Red clover can be applied externally as a poultice and taken internally as a tincture for skin cancer. This healer is a strong ally for women as she supports fertility, regulates menstrual cycles, and reduces hot flashes. Red Clover also offers supportive relief from wet coughs, arthritis and an overloaded nervous system. Red Clover flower essence helps clear negativity picked up from others, encouraging a strong, calm, clear balanced center within.
Moon of Hyldemoer Herbals Herbal Medicine Course with Suzanne Stone
Flower Power, by Anne McIntyre
Dispensing with Tradition, by Anne McIntyre & Michelle Boudin