When you think of herbal remedies and medicinal herbs modern natural healing may come to mind. Using wild medicine is a key to staying away from the onslaught of modern medicine so sometimes it can seem like a modern answer to good health.
However, medicinal healing is thousands of years old. You should be thinking of Egyptian and even Chinese herbal remedies that are ancient. The use of honey, the use of raspberry, fenugreek, licorice, garlic and acacia are not modern practices but ones that have been in use for thousands of years and beyond.
This isn’t the newest game in town. In fact, the new game in town, the modern medicine hustle or big pharma, is attempting to snuff out these natural remedies to supplement their powdered capsules to the public. Now we face an opiate epidemic that is tearing families apart at the seams and killing people who came to modern medicine for an answer.
The great news is, these natural remedies are still rooted in the earth and they are waiting to be found, again. They are waiting for you to happen by with the knowledge and the desire to turn them into medicine that can help you through the Winter seasons.
Methods For Using Medicinal Herbs
Fall is the time of harvest for a reason. There are all sorts of great wild foods and medicines that hit their peak throughout the fall season.
Fall often encompasses that incredible end of summer where plants are spitting out berries and other fruiting components. With that, fall also offers up that first frost for many regions of the nation. This frost has a profound effect on things like roots and rose hips in particular.
When harvesting roots, you really want to take those late in the season and most are best harvested when the plant above has died off. This will give you the roots peak power. To use these wild medicines, at peak efficiency, you will likely turn to four methods:
These are herb and alcohol mixes that help to extract the essentials from these herbs. You want to be sure you have a large jar with enough room to cover the herbs completely and leave some extra room as the herbs tend to soak up the alcohol.
#2. Medicinal Oils
This is the simple practice of placing chopped herbs in a high quality oil and then allowing it to sit for a week or two.
Salves are often a mix of your medicinal oils and beeswax. These are used to create a soothing compound that you can rub on your skin. 3:1 oil to beeswax is a great ratio to use for the salve.
#4. Herbal Infusions
Herbal infusions or herbal teas are an incredible way to get the essence of the plant into your system. You can use a variety of combinations that will work in tandem to both heal and sooth. A great tea ratio is 2 cups of water to 1 tablespoon of dried herbs. Double the herb amount for fresh cut herbs.
They are kind of like Uber teas. The herbs or roots are boiled in a decoction. You can use the same base ration for herb decoctions but know that seeds and roots are much more potent and might require a little more thought. The contents should be boiled and then simmered for 20 minutes.
Dandelion root is one of my favorite wild medicines because it can be roasted to offer a drink similar to coffee, no caffeine but still tasty. It can be used in tea to stimulate appetite, act as a mild laxative and improve upset stomach.The yellow flower or furry “wish” tops and the edible leaves make this common plant very easy to distinguish. Its in most yards and on roadsides all over.
Comfrey taken internally can be toxic. It is used as a salve for healing bones and the root can also be used as a gargle for throat conditions. Use the salve ration above to create your own comfrey salve.This plant is best identified using the small spearshaped leaves and the bell like flowers. It’s a small plant with a small flower.
Burdock is one of those roots that can get a little diluted in its effects. You can find literature that suggests burdock helps with basically anything! A powerful salve is one of the very best ways to help with skin ailments. Being high in C and E Vitamins you can also depend on burdock to help with immunity.Of course, the prickly heads and the brilliant pink flowers are the best way to discern between other plants and this powerful medicinal plant.
There is a lot to say about nettle root but one things sticks out above all. You can take the root internally to help with enlarged prostate. You should use the root if you want the effects on the prostate. The leaves are also a nutritious food and once blanched they lose the 7 minute itch.If you are looking to ID nettles look for these jagged leaves near a water source. If you want to be 100% sure, just reach out and touch some leaves. Be sure to bring gloves along if you don’t want to experience the stinging of the nettle.
Related: How to Cook Spring Nettles
Poke root is one of those inflammation fighters that many people turn to with things like swollen glands, tonsillitis and even the effects of laryngitis. Be careful as the poke berries, leaves and stems are poisonous. Be careful of dosage as the root can be poisonous, too, in high doses.Pokeweed grows out of control if its allowed to. The brilliant dark purple berries look like something that should be edible but they are not. The long stalks and purple berries are by far the best way to ID this plant.
One of the very best teas you can brew up is that raspberry leaf tea. It has a great taste and for the ladies it boasts things like increased fertility and even ease of labor. The latter I have trouble believing. It is both a powerful digestive aid and immune booster.If the raspberries are gone than the best way to ID the raspberry leaf is to look for the simple three veined leaves on a thorned stalk. There will likely be remnants of the raspberries that were there, at the tips.
The Jewelweed tincture is your best weapon against the brutal affects of things like poison ivy, sumac and oak. You can also use a poultice or decoction to treat the itching and the rash.Jewelweed’s strange leaves have an almost blue hue to them and the red stalk is hard to ignore. This is another water’s edge plant like nettle. When its flowering it has an incredibly vibrant orange flower that literally pops out seeds when you touch it, thus the name spotted touch me not.
Rosemary is one of those gang buster herbs that attacks a little of everything. My recommendation is to have a little rosemary in everything. Put it in your salves, make a decoction, brew it in tea, spread it out everywhere. It’s a powerful antibacterial and its even a great incense to burn!This garden herb is likely growing in your herb garden right now. If not ID this plant with its incredible tell tale smell. That strange pine like look and token rosemary scent is a dead giveaway.
The elderberry tincture and its derivatives have long been a medicine that is used for cold and flu season. Now is the time to find these berries. This simple tincture can be made right in a mason jar and stored for when you need it most.He clusters of dark berries can be confused with poke if you are new to foraging. There are many more berries and the elderberry is a bigger shrub than the simple pokeweed. ID with the berries and the reddish branches they hang from.
A master immune booster rose hips are full of Vitamin C. Harvesting these little berries is dependent upon the weather. You really don’t want to forage for these until the first frost. You see, this pulls sugar into the rose hip and softens them.You can eat these straight away or make a tincture or even a tea of them.
These are literally the fruits of the common rosebush. Where there were roses there will be rose hips. Pay attention in the spring and you will know where to find them in the fall.
The juglone in black walnut husks is a powerful antifungal and can be used to treat skin conditions. The leaves and stems are also used to treat all sorts of things. Green walnut can be used to treat the respiratory system. It is toxic at high levels so be careful with this stuff. I would stay away from oral intake of black walnut.Walnut producing trees are big. They also drop lots of green husked walnuts that are very easy to ID in the Fall.
While the fact that willows have Salicylic acid in the bark most articles don’t talk about quantities. That is what you need to know. Of course, salicylic acid is the active ingredient in aspirin.1 to 3 grams of bark in a tea or decoction is going to offer the body 60-120 mg of salicin. This can be used to deal with fever and pain.
Willows are identified by their long thin pointed leaves. The weeping willow is often near water and has those hanging, or weeping, branches.
Foraging wild medicine in fall is a great practice, it’s a great activity for the family and it’s a process that is as old as some of our oldest civilizations. We have some powerhouse herbs and plants in this list but there are others out there.
From this base knowledge I encourage you to build a “menu” and a process by which you can take advantage of the wild medicine that the natural world produces every year. Learn how to process these plants. The simple processes listed above will not take much time and you will be able to stave off colds and illness by catching it early and using this medicine to heal you.
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