You never see broccoli pushing up through concrete. But what does—those pesky plants often referred to as weeds—can be superior to your garden-grown vegetable fare. Not only are some weeds actually wild foods loaded with more nutrients than our domesticated seed stock, but many of them are potent medicines, too. Consider cultivating instead of pulling these eleven plants from your spring garden.
Nettles: An incredible blood detoxifier, diuretic, laxative and treatment for hayfever. Has also shown promise in treating Alzheimer's and ADHD. Topically it can relieve dandruff and stop bleeding.
Dandelion: Yes, those (pictured above), but actually, the greens are more beneficial than the flowers. Balances hormones and blood pressure, diuretic, detoxifier, potassium rich, supports healthy liver.
Passionflower: This powerful and beautiful flower is a most helpful anti-anxiety and anti-insomniac tonic, promoting calmness and relaxation.
Vervain: Anti-anxiety and calming properties. Can treat diarrhea, ulcers, menstrual cramps and applied topically can decrease headaches and hemorrhoids.
Chickweed: Anti-rheumatic, diuretic, expectorant, excellent source of vitamin C, gamma-linolenic acid, B vitamins and silica.
Plantain: One of the most powerful blood purifiers and detoxifiers, as well as skin disorders. Applied externally it can treat and heal wounds, sunburn and other skin conditions.
Golden Rod: Can relieve allergies, arthritis, colds and flu and sore throats.
St. John's Wort: Well known as effective in treating depression, it can also treat menopause symptoms, migraines, pain from nerve damage and anxiety disorders.
Yellow Dock: Rich in iron, calcium and vitamins A and C, it helps digestion, works as a diuretic and laxative and can reduce bowel inflammation as well as kidney and liver function.
Lemon Balm: Incredibly effective at treating nervousness, insomnia, menstrual cramps and digestive disorders.
Echinacea: Commonly used to thwart colds and flu, it can also be taken to reduce lymphatic swelling, urinary tract inections, herpes, candida and applied topically to heal wounds and treat skin conditions.
All herbs can be dried and brewed into teas, or soaked in alcohol to make tinctures. They can also be blended into topical ointments.
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Image: peter pearson