We had such a great first BKNY Herbalism & CSA class last week! It was so much fun getting our medicinal herb delivery from Sawmill Herb Farm. We made chickweed tincture, shared burdock root infusion & tincture, and talked about the many ways to work with plants as collaborators in healing. Below is a bit about the plants we received that are also found throughout NYC.
JAPANESE KNOTWEED Polygonum cuspidatum.
Though some consider this plant to be an invasive weed, this warrior plant can help strengthen our bodies and the body of the earth. A member of the buckwheat family, Japanese Knotweed has ability to thrive in toxic soils, drawing out heavy metals and poisons to detoxify damaged land. While it cleanses, Japanese knotweed brings organic matter, shade and moisture where it’s needed to support habitat restoration. Over time, revitalizing damaged ecosystems.
The knotweed roots (which we received in our share) have strong immune enhancing capacity. They are high in vitamin C, and are a major source of resveratrol which supports blood vessel health and circulation while reducing inflammation, oxidation and blood coagulation. They are significantly antimicrobial and antifungal, helping to fight off infections such as staph, strep, pneumonia, e-coli, salmonella and candida albicans. Renowned herbalist, Stephen Harrod Buhner writes in his book, Healing Lyme, about the plant’s important role against lyme disease. If we pay attention and keep an open mind, we may find what some consider to be invasive species, to instead be powerful allies.
DANDELION ROOT & LEAF Taraxacum officinale
Dandelion is another powerful ally that surrounds us. The entire plant is an edible and medicinal. Dandelion promotes digestion, stimulates appetite, balances the natural and beneficial bacteria in the intestines and is a mild laxative. As diuretic, the plant helps the kidneys clear out waste, salt, and excess water. Dandelion has been shown to improve liver function by removing toxins, re-establishing hydration and electrolyte balance. It increases bile production and reduces inflammation to help with gallbladder problems and blockages. Needless to say, a wonderful spring tonic to awaken and cleanse what we may have stored in the winter. Cleansing within shows on the outside which is why Dandelion is also known to relieve skin conditions.
Dandelion resonates with the 3rd chakra located in the solar plexus. This is the seat of fire in the body where we digest the inner and outer worlds, and either either claim or withhold our personal power. Dandelion can help to activate this energy center and move emotional waste from the body that may be stored there. Dandelion’s deep and wide-spreading roots loosen hard-packed soil, and pull nutrients such as calcium from deep within the earth, making them available to other plants whose roots may not go as deep. I made some delicious dandelion salads with the greens we received and made tea and tincture with the roots.
CHICKWEED Stellaria media
Chickweed is an lovely and inconspicuous medicine right under our feet! This valuable, edible green is often embedded in grasses, on lawns, peeking through the cracks of sidewalks and curbsides. Chickweed contains soapy substances, called saponins that emulsify and increase the permeability of cellular membranes. When we consume chickweed, we increase our ability to absorb nutrients and dissolve unwanted matter, including disease-causing bacteria, cysts, benign tumors, thickened mucus in the respiratory and digestive systems, and excess fat cells. Chickweed is especially famous for dissolving ovarian cysts. According to herbalist, Susun Weed, using chickweed to dissolve a cyst is effective, yet requires consistent use of the tincture made from fresh plant material. She writes more about this in her book, Healing Wise. Chickweed is loaded with nutrition and great in salads. This plant is soothing, cooling, great for the skin (I often use chickweed externally, as well).
BURDOCK Arctium Lappa
We shared an herbal infusion of burdock root at the start of class. Before knowing what it was, everyone said that they felt more grounded, embodied and calm. The deep taproot of Burdock is one of my favorite allies to help us ground and plug into the source energy of mother earth. As one of my teachers, Robin Rose Bennett would say, burdock “turns worriers into warriors.” I’ve certainly found that to be true. This talented plant nourishes our kidneys, adrenals, liver, lymph, skin and strengthens immunity. It helps connect us to our innate strength and let go of what no longer serves us. You’ll find burdock throughout NYC. Though many here consider this plant a weed, burdock is revered as an important food and medicine through much of the world. I’m drinking a delicious burdock infusion right now.
I’d love to hear about your experiences working with these special plants. Also, in class, some of you asked about books I’d recommend. Below are just some of the many great options. If you’re looking for a book, pick maybe one or two that resonate. I’ll continue to give recommendations in upcoming blogs.
~ With Love,
RECOMMENDED READING & RESOURCES;
Plant Medicine & Earth Connection:
The Book of Herbal Wisdom, Matthew Wood
Plant Spirit Healing, Pam Montgomery
The Healing Gifts of Herbs, Robin Rose Bennett
Sacred Plant Medicine, Stephen Harrod Buhner
Healing Lyme, Stephen Harrod Buhner
Healing Wise, Susun Weed
Spirits Of The Earth, Bobby Lake Thom
Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants, Peterson’s Field Guides
There are many more great ones. This is a start.
Connecting Further With The Body:
The Anatomy Coloring Book, Wynn Knapit & Lawrence M. Elson
Eastern Body, Western Mind, Anodea Judith
Polarity Therapy, Franklyn Sils
Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, Christiane Northrup
Essential Anatomy for Healing & Martial Arts, Marc Tedeschi
Acu-Yoga, Michael Reed Gach
Again, many more.