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WEEDS FOR WELLNESS – A GUIDE TO YOUR BACKYARD PHARMACY FIREWEED

Epilobium/Chamerion Angustifolium

The pale purple, pinkish flowers of Fireweed are lavishly decorating our landscape right now. You can watch bees swarming around the plants, they love the flowers. Fireweed is apparently the only plant in the world that has purple pollen. It is the first plant to grow after a fire, preparing the soil for other plants and trees to follow. Fireweed provides both food and medicine for us. Hippocrates said: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” How true this is.

The FLOWERS, UNOPENED BUDS and YOUNG LEAVES of Fireweed make a great addition to any salad, and of course, I add any of them to my Jungle Juice. The young shoots can be prepared like asparagus. A tea made from the LEAVES may simply be enjoyed as a beverage or used for medicinal purposes in cases of enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia – BPH). Note: Some sources suggest that Fireweed tea has a slight laxative effect whereas others say it is being used for certain forms of diarrhea. Therefore, be your own judge and enjoy the tea in moderation until you know how it affects you – this, of course, holds true for anything you ingest or put on your skin.

As mentioned in an earlier post, a SPIT POULTICE made from the leaves, just like Plantain, will provide great relief from insect bites – numbing the pain as well as reducing swelling and allergic reactions. I have heard from numerous people this year who have made use of this knowledge and were able to avoid hospital trips while watching the magic of the plant world unfold in front of their eyes. The gifts of nature are all around us. The poultice can also be used to minimize bruising and help draw slivers.

The FLOWERS, some sources include the leaves as well, provide effective relief for hemorrhoids. For this purpose, make an infused oil which can be used as is or made into suppositories. It is advisable to look at diet, lifestyle and liver function when dealing with hemorrhoids.

A decoction made from the WHOLE HERB, including the ROOT, has traditionally been used as an anti-spasmodic in the treatment of (whooping) cough and asthma. The preparation was allowed to cool before taken internally.

Fireweed can be considered a survival food with anti-inflammatory properties. It is relatively high in nutrients including vitamin C, beta-carotenes, calcium and magnesium. Always remember though, that the nutrient content (and flavour) of a plant varies greatly with the soil it is grown in.

RECIPE SUGGESTIONS

1. Add leaves, flowers and/or buds in any salad
2. Slightly steam young shoots until just tender. Melt butter, add lime juice, pour over Fireweed. Sprinkle with seeds/and or nuts on top (almonds, hemp hearts…)
Adjust proportions to your own liking. Remember, I consider myself a “free-flowing cook”. No recipe will ever turn out the same.

RESOURCE – QUESTION: Not sure how to prepare infusions, decoctions, infused oils etc? You find all these and many more preparations in my instructional DVD (over three hours of hands-on instructions): Herbal Pharmacy for Everyone – A Practical Guide to Creating Your Own Herbal Preparations. www.herbalinstructions.com. Subtitles in English, German, French and Spanish included as well as an appendix with all the recipes – just like a book.

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