Nutritive Spring Herbs Right in Your Backyard

Nutritive Spring Herbs Right in Your Backyard

Now that we passed the winter solstice, we’ll slowly begin to gain a little bit of daylight each day as we move into spring. The herbal world is somewhat dormant in the winter, just waiting for the right temperatures and light to spring forward with the nutritive and tonic herbs for springtime.

Now that we passed the winter solstice, we’ll slowly begin to gain a little bit of daylight each day as we move into spring. The herbal world is somewhat dormant in the winter, just waiting for the right temperatures and light to spring forward with the nutritive and tonic herbs for springtime.

There is a wealth of nutritive herbs just waiting in your own backyard that will help nourish and tone your body and organs for the busy warm months ahead. When foraging for herbs, please be cautious to avoid areas that have been sprayed with chemicals such as pesticides and insecticides. The following are herbs to be on the lookout for as the days get warmer:

Dandelion5Dandelion – This sunny yellow herb is one of the most abundant and nutritive plants growing in your yard. Once we’ve had a few days of sun and warmer temperatures, their beautiful yellow heads begin popping up across the landscape. While traditionally considered a nuisance weed, the dandelion is abundant because it has so many beneficial things to offer us.

Dandelion is an excellent blood purifier and detoxifies the liver. It also has beneficial effects on the stomach, pancreas, gallbladder, intestinal system, spleen, urinary system, and mucous membranes. Consider using dandelion to improve digestion and enhance elimination through the kidneys as well as for their nutritional benefits. Dandelion greens are an excellent source of Vitamins A, C, E, and K and are rich in the following minerals: folate, magnesium, phosphorous, copper, calcium, iron, potassium, and manganese. The greens can also be eaten raw, steeped in a tea, or taken in capsule format.

Mullein8-300x198Mullein – The mullein plant can be found throughout Michigan’s fields and meadows.  It is distinguished by a rosette of fuzzy leaves and, in the summer, a yellow-flowered stalk. Mullein has beneficial effects on the gallbladder, intestinal system, respiratory system, tonsils, lymphatics, and mucous membranes. It is an excellent nutritive herb that also acts to lubricate the tissues, improve absorption, and help the body remove waste. Mullein can help soothe, lubricate, and strengthen the lung tissue and is helpful for any respiratory ailment such as asthma, bronchitis, and congestion. Take mullein as a capsule, decoction, or applied externally as a poultice.

Broadleaf-Plantain2-e1402338778256-198x300Plantain – The plantain leaf is a common plant found in Michigan and should not be confused with the banana-like fruit of the same name. Plantain is an alternative herb that helps clean the blood, is antibacterial, and acts as an astringent. Consider using plantain anytime you have an external wound, cut, or scratch as it grows on the edges of high traffic areas like playgrounds and is easy to grab, crush, and apply to any wound. Plantain can also be used to support the respiratory, urinary, and digestive system by soothing and stimulating organ function. Used plantain as a tea, tincture, infusion, or applied topically as a poultice.

Nettle – When you stumble upon a patch of stinging Nettle1-300x198nettles it tends to be more about discomfort than delight. When nettles are properly dried they are transformed into one of the most effective treatments for allergy symptoms and are packed with nutrients. Taken internally, they can reduce the amount of histamine and can interfere with the body’s production of other inflammation-causing chemicals. When applied topically or taken internally, nettles have an astringent property that helps to tighten the top layers of the skin or mucous membranes and relieves inflammation and improves tissue firmness. Nettles are packed with Vitamins A, C, E, F, and K and several of the B Vitamins complexes. In addition, nettles contain the following minerals: zinc, iron, magnesium, copper, selenium, boron, bromine, calcium, chlorine, chlorophyll, potassium, phosphorus, sodium, iodine, chromium, silicon, and sulfur.

Stinging nettles should be harvested while you are wearing gloves to avoid contact with stinging hairs making contact with the skin prior to preparation. Once harvested, nettles should be allowed to dry for several days. After the nettles are dry and the stems snap, they have lost their stinging ability. The nettles can be brewed into a nutritious tea that you can drink or apply topically to the skin.

Chickweed – Chickweed is another herb that can be used as both food and medicine, and their greens make an excellent salad. This herb is a gentle diuretic that replaces nutrients as it removes excess fluid from the body. Chickweed contains high amounts of Vitamins A, D, B, iron, calcium, and potassium. Topically, chickweed is applied for its cooling and soothing properties and can be applied to rashes, acne, eczema, small burns, or cuts. In rare occasions, chickweed may cause skin irritation and should be tested on a small patch of skin before applying. The high saponin content of chickweed means this herb should be eaten in moderation as it can cause stomach upset in large quantities. Chickweed can be eaten raw, steeped into a tea, or taken in supplement form.

As you step into Mother Nature’s medicine cabinet you’ll be surprised to find that she has provided us with the perfect way to nourish and support our bodies as the seasons change. Please remember to harvest herbs in an ethical manner so that they are available for generations to come. All of the herbs listed above are available at The Pet Beastro and are safe for animal consumption.

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