Saturday, June 23, 2007

Plantain o Plenty....and more!

Forgotten weedy fields are the BEST places to find some the most common and useful medicinal plants in urban settings. My favorite thing is to wander wild hillsides and mountains and riparian woods to find wild plant friends in their natural homes, but I do live and work in the city, and sometimes things like plantain prefer to make their home close to people.
Off I went to a forgotten weedy field where I knew I had seen some young yarrow leaves growing early this spring. I wanted to make a nice yarrow flower oil this year, for scrapes, rashes, itchy bites and probably even more. It is a lovely antiseptic and wound healer, and a superb topical anti-inflammatory. I've heard stories of yarrow soaks clearing up stubborn cases of eczema in no time, and yarrow is always my go to medicine when I or someone in my kitchen cuts their fingers. It stops the bleeding almost instantly. I have a packet of powder for emergency situations, but a nice chewed up leaf works well too.
So, I've been thinking the oil would be a nice remedy in its own right, especially for itchy inflammed things, heat rashes, bug bites, and sunburns. I suspect it will also be good for bruises, as yarrow moves stagnant blood.

SO, back to the weedy forgotten field, sure enough there was the flowering yarrow I expected to see, some even with pink flowers. I set myself to quietly harvesting some yarrow flowers, when I spied another familiar face.
Plantain. Oh and she was EVERYWHERE. Her delicate flower stalks all up and waving in the wind and shedding pollen as I brushed up against them. You see plantain is one of the most useful weeds to herbalists the world over, yet in my years in Arizona, there wasn't THAT much plantain to be had. We did have a very small fuzzy variety that grew in times of adequate rain. But mind you, that wasn't every year, and it was only for a few weeks. I didn't get to use plantain much in Arizona, though I did so much want to. Now , in Colorado, plantain is everywhere....the land of plantain o plenty. It's a weed in everyones yards, and those delightful forgotten weedy fields. So I availed myself of the gift of plantain as well. This was the narrow leaved variety, but I've also seen broad leaved plantain along roadsides and in yards here. I plan to dry this batch of plantain for use in healing teas for the digestive system. Astringent, demulcent, anti inflammatory, rich in healing allantoin, plantain is good for just about anything you can imagine. Most herbalists use it externally as a poultice for bites, stings, and wounds, and especially for infected wounds or little pieces of splinters, thorns or other foreign bodies stuck in the skin. It is marvelous at drawing out venom, infection and thorns. Its also a wonderful anti itchy remedy, and I use the fresh tincture in a spray for calming the itch of mosquito bites.
So I am going to apply all those properties to healing the digestive system, especially for those with leaky gut syndrome, ulcers, colitis, or any condition which might call for astringing, toning, soothing and anti inflammatory action. It's also mildly bitter, and gentle digestive stimulant for those with a lack of appetite.
My basket was nearly full, and then I found some escaped chamomile in flower, so into the basket went some flowers for tea. Possibly enough for just one cup, but I'll remember the sweetness of that cup for a long while.

Back at my garden plot, a little volunteer patch of red clover is in bloom, so I harvested some more flowers, and the calendula just started to flower as well!!

Today was a day rich with healing plants, and gifts from Gaia.


Kiva Rose said...

Wow, sounds like you had a perfectly lovely day! I hope it was cooler there than here... I gathered Monarda, Sweet Clover and Mulberries early this morning and I was still baked by the time I got back to the cabin.

Shamana Flora said...

twas lovely, and very toasty! probably a bit cooler than where you're at, but still hot.
mmmmm...monarda and sweet clover.
i've never had a mulberry. i bet they are tasty.

i just want to say how proud i am to see you being such a wonderful herbalist. I rmemember when we met, you were just beginning your journey, and now, i'd almost hazard to say you've surpassed me in deep plant knowledge, just from intimacy and contact with your most important plant allies. I'm still swimming in a sea of so many plants to know and experience. I really need to narrow down my materia medica.
Stay cool, jump in the river!

"The mother of us all, the oldest of us all, Hard, splendid as rock, Let the beauty you love, be what you do. There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the earth"~ Rumi ~