Collecting Fall Herbs: Field Day Friday

Do you look at the beauty of weeds like I do? Fields of the yellow tasseled goldenrod, roadsides covered in frilly blues of  chicory, happy looking Black eyed Susan’s and the purples of the many different types of thistle invigorate the sense of beauty as far as the eye can see. I see beauty all around me, but I also see the innate medicinal value of these plants as well. We have many of them growing on our farm. Some would tell me to cut them down, to pull them out, but I won’t. Instead, as nature does her work, I allow them to spread naturally. My husband has known me to bring home seeds and roots of some plants to transplant in our herb garden as well.

Being part Cherokee and having learned much from my elders, I know that all year long we are blessed with opportunity to gather wild herbs to save and use for different purposes. I can’t prescribe what herbs another should use, but I can share with you what different ones are used for, and allow you to make decisions for yourself. Also, having practiced as a Registered Nurse for 26 years, I will be the first to tell you to talk with your personal physician before using any herbal, holistic type of healthcare regimen. He or she and you, should decide what is best for your personal condition and go from there.

Today, I want to share with you one of the fall herbs that I’ve gathered, it’s medicinal values and how to collect and dry. Herbs, in general, should be collected in the mornings, after the dew has dried, but before the heat of the midday sun. Most herbs may be dried on a screen, covered with another screen or cheesecloth to keep off insects. Some herbs may be hung upside down, in small bunches, and allowed to air dry. Some people advocate drying herbs in a dehydrator or in the low heat of an oven. It’s a personal choice, but at our homestead, we don’t use either of those methods. My pantry looks like an upside down garden at the moment, and smells heavenly.

Today, let’s talk about goldenrod. goldenrod  These flowers amaze me. For so long, they’re been regarded as one of the worst allergens of the fall. They can cause issues for some, but do you know how medicinally good they are? Used for hundreds of yeas by Native Americans, they have antifungal properties, the saponins, that can help alleviate such yeast infections as oral thrush when a tea made from it is used as a gargle. It can be used for skin yeast infections or those elsewhere when used as a wash or rinse over it. Gargled, as a tea, it helps to stop coughs and sore throats. As a weak tea, it can help stop diarrhea naturally, without having to resort to chemical compounds found in over-the-counter medications. It’s been found to be an effective treatment in colitis and IBS.

Goldenrod tea is also beneficial for the urinary tract, kidneys and bladder. The saponins, tannins,  and flavonoids found in the flowers and leaves help keep infection and stones from forming in the urinary system.

Mixed with dandelion and thyme in a tea, it is an effective immune stimulating drink.

The usual dosage for a tea for ingestion or gargle is about 1 teaspoonful of the dried herb in a cupful of boiling water. Allow the herb to steep for about 10-15 minutes for the full effect, strain, sweeten with honey if desired, and drink. For gastrointestinal issues, it’s recommended to drink about 4 cups (1 quart) of tea daily.

We keep goldenrod planted on our farm, not just for medicine, but to draw in pollinators. goldenrod with bee

I love watching bees and butterflies visit the golden fronds goldenrod with butterfly. and coating their legs and bodies with the powdery pollen.

Goldenrod is associated with fall, the waning of the heat of the summer and watching the trees slip into the last final burst of glory. It’s fall already?  I am not ready to give summer up quite yet.

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