The backyard Herbal Little known medicinal plants in our backyards and other wild places.
Local Vs. Native plants • Native plants are plants that have the origination in the geographical area described. Though they may have spread and adapted to other areas or zones. • Local plants are plants that thrive in, and can be found growing in a particular area regardless of the plants place of origin. • For this course we will focus on local plants as many of the edible plants in our area are not natives though they definitely thrive here. • Will identify which ones are truly natives to this area.
Parts of Plants Commonly Used • Flowers • Stems • Roots, tubers, bulbs, and rhizomes • Seeds • Barks • Leaves • Resins, gums, saps • Fruits
The Simpler Form of Herbal medicine • Most herbs and medicinal plants lend themselves to simple forms of medicine making. • To much over processing and fidgeting can actually destroy some of the medicinal constituents found in some plants. • Keeping things simple lessens confusion and worry about how things are to be done. • We will cover the most simple and useful modes of herbal medicine making.
Simple Modes of Herbal Medicine • Teas or infusions • Decoctions • Fomentations and poultices • Tinctures • Infused oils
Teas or Infusions • Fresh or dried plant matter, plus heated water makes and infusion. • 1-2 teaspoons of herb per cup of water. • Steep 10-15 min. • Strain and drink. • Cover while steeping and do not boil.
Decoctions • This is the same as an infusion only tougher plant materials are used so it requires more and rougher application of heat. • 1-2 teaspoons of herb per 1 ½ cup of boiling water • Lower heat and simmer 10-15 min. • Strain and drink.
Fomentations and poultices • These are both topical applications. • Fomentations use fabric soaked in a strong decoction or infusion. • Poultices use the actual plant matter either fresh or dried heated and pulped into a mass. • Apply to area affected. • Helps to cover with plastic wrap and a thick towel. • Keep on area until cool, and then repeat.
Tinctures • Tinctures are concentrated extracts made with either a combination of alcohol and water, or vinegar that is at 6% acetic acid content or above. • The weight to volume method uses a simple equation. g X 5 = ml of menstrum: 200 x 5 = 1000. • Combine herb and menstrum in glass container and seal. Shake twice daily for 14 days. Strain and press. Usual dose is 1-5 ml or dropper full 3X daily. • This is a 1:5 or 20% tincture. • To make a different percent simple change the equation.
Tincture (Folk method) • Used for mild, tonic herbs. • Put herb in glass container. • Add menstrum until ¼ inch above herb. • Let sit 24 hours to let the herb soak up the menstrum. • Add more menstrum to ¼ inch above herb again. • Shake twice daily for 14 days. This gives approximately a 1:5 or 20% extract.
Infused Oils • Same as tinctures only fixed oils are used for menstrum. • Used topically and great for bruises, sprains, and abrasions. • Can be used as a base for ointment and salves by adding a natural wax such as bees wax.
Plants and Identification • I am not a botanist. • You take the responsibility upon yourselves to properly identify plants. • Plants that have potentially toxic look-a-likes will be shown. • Some plants have edible parts AND toxic parts. • Some plants are edible, but only when prepared correctly. • Seek out further instruction and reference materials.
Yellow cone (Matricariadiscoidea) • Pineapple scented annual • 4-6 inches • Leaves finely dissected with linear segments • Flowers tiny without rays, yellow button is a ray less composite flower • Used interchangeably with German chamomile. • Used for upset stomach, stomach pain, gas, colic, indigestion, menstrual cramps, and convulsions. • Use in infusions and tinctures.
Dandelion (Taraxacumofficinale) • Hairless perennial from stout tap root. Milky sap. • Leaves in a basal rosette of oblong to oblanceolate leaves, deeply lobed and toothed. • Familiar flowers in solitary head on hollow, leafless stem • Leaves are diuretic, and help with kidney and bladder issues, as well as water retention. • Roots are used as a hepatic and cleanse the liver and gall bladder. • Teas, decoctions and tinctures are used.
Yellow dock (Rumexcrispus) • Stout, hairless perennial from a yellow tap root. • 1 – 5 feet tall. • Leaves are alternate, lance to oblong shaped and have wavy margins. • Flowers on green spikes with single seeded fruit. • Seeds have 3 angled heart shaped bracts. • Used as a liver cleanser and hepatic. • Used internally for skin disorders, rheumatism, diarrhea, indigestion, jaundice and anemia. • Infusions and tinctures are used. • Natives adopted its use topically for skin disorders. • Slightly laxative.
Burdock (Arctiumlappa) • Large leaved biennial. • 2-9 feet. • Leaves large rhubarb like, widely ovate, on long petioles. White and wooly below stalk is solid and celery like. • Seed enclosed in burr like head with hooked spines. • Large tap roots. 1-4 feet deep. • Traditionally used as a liver tonic and diuretic. • Stimulates bile secretion and digestion. • Long history of use both internally and externally for skin disorders. • Research has shown root preparations to stimulate live and gall bladder function.
Wild Lettuce (Lactucacanadensis, serriola, virosa) • Large, stout biennial with abundant milky juice. • Up to 6 feet. • Basal leaves oblong to oval and alternate, sharply toothed, bases clasping stems. • Margins and central rib spiny • Flowers are many and small yellow in open branched groups. • Used as a pain reliever or analgesic. • Has mild sedative action. • Was used widely in the Victorian period as “lettuce opium”. • Used for irritable coughs, insomnia, and nervousness. • Good used as infusions or tinctures
California poppy (Eschscholziacalifornica) • Hairless annual or perennial with whitish film. • Up to 2 feet. • Leaves mostly basal, deeply dissected into many linear lobes. • Four petal flowers are shiny and orange to yellow. • Seed pod long and slender. • Used for sedative properties. • Taken for stomach aches and other mild pain. • Anxiety, sleeplessness, and for hyper activity. • Studies have Identified sedative but non-narcotic alkaloids. • Has no opiate alkaloids.
Common mallow (Malvaneglecta) • Weedy annual • Leaves alternate and shallowly palmate, 5-7 lobes, margins are scalloped. • Flowers small and pink to white with petals notched on tips • Seeds in cheese like wheels covered by bracts. • Leaf and root tea used to treat coughs, sore throats, colds, bronchitis, laryngitis, asthma, digestive tract irritations and kidney and bladder infections. • High in mucilage content and is astringent. • Antimicrobial.
Plantain. (Plantago major) • Hairless perennial. • Up to 18 inches. • Leaves broadly oval in basal rosettes with prominent parallel veins converging at base. Bases rounded at thickened stalks margin wavy. • Flowers dense in elongated spikes. • Leaves have astringent and wound healing properties. • Is antimicrobial. • One of the best herbs for a field expedient poultice for stings. • Astringency is good for internal mucous membrane irritations. • Traditional diarrhea remedy.
Oregon grape. Berberisaquifolium • Evergreen upright or spreading • 2-10 feet. • Inner bark and roots bright yellow • Leave pinnately compound, leathery and holly like 5- 11 leaflets, flat and oblong with spine tipped teeth. • Flowers yellow at branch tips. • Berries blue to purple covered with whitish film • Roots contain yellow alkaloid berberine. • Has antimicrobial properties and well as liver tonic and blood cleansing qualities. • Used for digestion problems and gal stone cases. • Used internally for skin disorders. • Bitter and induces bile flow.
Yarrow (Achilleamillefolium) • Aromatic perennial, with alternate leaves that are finely pinnately dissected and fern like. • Flowers white to slight pink cast in dense flat top clusters. • Up to 3 feet. • Has wound healing, antimicrobial, and haemostatic properties. • Diaphoretic action used for fevers, cold and flu. • Poultices on wounds and bruises. • Bitter and induced bile flow. • Fresh leaves are good for bladder and kidney infections.
Mullein (Verbascumthapsus) • Stout, densely white wooly biennial. • Leaves in basal rosette the first year. • Alternate leaves on center stalk second year. Leave bases fused against stem. • Flowers flat and on stalk tip or spike, yellow and hairy. • Leaf use for lung and breathing complaints, bronchitis, asthma, colds and coughs. • Flowers infused in oil for traditional earache remedy. • Anti-inflammatory to mucous membranes. • Expectorant qualities.
Comfrey (Symphytumofficinale) • Large rooted perennial 1-3 feet tall. • Leaves large rough and hairy, broadly oval to lance shaped. • Bell like flower in furled clusters, purple, blue, pink or white. • Roots and leaves used for there skin soothing and wound healing properties. • Has expectorant qualities but also contains potentially harmful alkaloids. • Can be confused with the leaves of Digitalis which would be fatal.
Black elderberry (Sambucusnigra) • Deciduous shrub often lacking a main trunk. • Up to 25 feet. • Leaves are pinnately compound with 3-9 leaflets ecliptic to ovate. Tips pointed and midrib often curved. • Creamy white flowers in flat top clusters. • Berries appear blue but are nearly black and covered with a fine wax. • Berry extracts have shown anti viral activity. • Flowers are used for fever reduction and cold and flu symptoms. • All other parts of the plant are toxic and the good parts must be heated first to rid them of the toxic compounds.
Wild licorice (Glycyrrhizalepidota) • Sticky perennial with aromatic, sweet rhizome. • Leaves alternate pinnately divided into many lance shaped leaflets. • Flowers white to cream on in dense racemes from leaf axils. • Seed pod pea pod like and covered with hooked spikes. • Root preparations used for laxative and intestinal tonic action. • Sore throats, cold and coughs. • Anti-inflammatory, expectorant, antibacterial, and antiviral effects • Over use can exacerbate hypertension and sodium retention.
Not All But Some • Plants included here are a some of the most easily identified and used native and local plants. • This list is in no way exhaustive, and further research can show a plethora of useful plants available in your own back yard.
Simpler offers a wide variety of services, including medicinal herb consulting, where Simpler Sam can visit your property or take you and a group into the local woods, and show you the edible and medicinal plants located there. These consultations include information on identification and the use of the plants identified.