Hedgerow Healing 2

by | Jun 17, 2017 | Blog

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This is the second instalment of my commentary on the herbal roadside bounty which is all around us. Pictures of all the herbs are readily available on the internet.

When travelling through the countryside either as a visitor, or a resident, we tend to take the winding country lanes for granted, simply as a means of travelling from one place to another.

We may even be heading for a chemist in town. Yet at the side of our lanes the hedgerows that border them are nature’s pharmacy, and free!

Barley, Elder, nettles, chickweed, dandelion, dock, cleavers, yarrow and self-heal are among the most potent of medicinal plants.

Although herbal remedy shops can be found in most towns now they are becoming increasingly expensive whereas with a little bit of knowledge, experience and experimentation you can produce your own remedies for very little money. You might even want to flog on a few of your discoveries too.

Here are another six of my favourites in alphabetical order:

Agrimony– From the rose family, this is an upright perennial with spikes of yellow flowers found in abundance in meadows, roadsides, verges and other grassy places.
It can be found throughout the British Isles, particularly in the south, and around Europe, except for the north of Scotland and the Welsh mountains. Settlers took it to the Americas in the 17th Century.

Agrimony can be used to staunch bleeding, and is used in trauma treatment and surgery in the Far East, particularly in Chinese hospitals.
It helps relieve pain too, and has a long tradition as a wound herb as well as for treating liver, digestive and urinary tract problems.
It tightens and tones the tissues, whilst simultaneously relaxing tension, physically and mentally.

Alexanders – Alexanders is commonly found by the seaside and roadside. It is a winter and early spring vegetable. The seeds make a peppery spice.
Medicinally, Alexanders helps urine flow and reduces gravel in the bladder and kidneys.
The leaves can be heated and applied to sores and ulcers to help heal them.

Aniseed – a taste that will be familiar to anyone over forty from sweetshops in the guise of aniseed balls.
It is an umbellifer that grows best in warm climates. The distinctive flavour of the seeds is used for digestive problems, coughs and colds, and combined with ginger and black pepper to treat hay fever and cold symptoms.

Willow – Willow bark contains Salicin and other aspirin-like compounds. It is used to treat pain and inflammation, but does not have the stomach-irritating or blood-thinning effects of aspirin.
It can help to lower fevers, and be used as pain relief for headaches, arthritis, gout, rheumatism, muscle aches and lower back pain.

Willowherb – The small-flowered willowherb is a remedy for prostate problems, including benign prostate hyperplasia (BHP).
Plants in this informal group help shrink the tissues, arrest cell proliferation and normalise urinary function.
Small-flowered willowherbs are also effective for a wide range of bladder and urinary problems, for women as well as men, with the astringent and diuretic action serving to tone and detoxify the urinary tract.

Wood Betony – often known simply as Betony, has been widely used for its qualities for thousands of years in Europe.
Dioscorides wrote a book about it in the first century AD and it was mentioned by Pliny the Elder who called it Vettonica.
The ancient Greeks praised its healing powers and used it for protection against evil too. In the Middle Ages, it was commonly worn around the neck as an amulet, and the Renaissance Humanist, Erasmus, wrote that it protected “those that carried it about them.” He also said that it was good as protection against having “fearful visions.” Apuleius Platonicus (c.550-625) who wrote the following lines about wood betony;

“It is good whether for man’s soul or for his body, it shields him against visions and dreams” and the wort (plant) is very wholesome, and thus thou shalt gather it in the month of August without the use of iron; and when thou hast gathered it shake the mold till nought of it cleaves thereon, and then dry it in the shade very thoroughly and with its root altogether reduce it to dust; then use it and take of it when thou needest.”

Wood Betony is a nerve tonic, and has a wide range of benefits, especially on the digestion and in improving circulation.
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