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Sage Advice: God's healing herbs


Last updated 7/15/2020 at 12:45pm

From Epukas /

Burdock grows commonly here and can be used for skin issues and digestion.

Here on the front range, we are blessed with a plethora of wild herbs that coincidentally are very useful for the issues we find most often here. I love the fact that I can find this medicine almost anywhere in the mountains or on the prairie along the front range. Some of my favorites are: Burdock, Mullein, St. John's Wort, plantain, and jewelweed.

Burdock is a wonderful blood-cleansing herb and it is prolific here. The root can be used in cooking and I often harvest the young roots and grill them with some carrots, garlic, and onions. In Japan, it is a staple and is known as Gobo. I also make a tincture with it that is very helpful for my clients with skin issues. I use burdock in many of my medicinal teas when blood cleansing and liver health are issues. It is a mild digestive stimulant and can be used in a tea to help with indigestion.

Mullein is another herb that grows prolifically here. It is also known as Girl Scout's Toilet Paper. I think this is probably related to the large fuzzy leaves, which are quite soft and would make a fitting substitute if needed. Please note that some people are irritated by the fine hairs, so be cautious if using in this manner.

It is a very hardy biennial and can sometimes get as tall as 6 feet. All parts of the plant are useful, and its primary properties are anodyne, (pain reliever) antispasmodic, (eases muscle cramps) demulcent, (soothes irritated tissues) diuretic, expectorant, vulnerary, (encourages wound healing) sedative, anti-catarrhal, (reduces mucous) emollient, and pectoral. It is my "go to" herb for any type of lung issues. I use it in tinctures and teas predominantly. I also make a wonderful infused ear oil that contains mullein flowers and garlic infused in organic olive oil. You can also use the flowers to make a lovely pale yellow dye.

St. John's Wort is one of my favorite herbs. It is so versatile but is a little harder to find here where winters are long and seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is prevalent. This herb has traditionally been used for depression in Europe for many years. But many people don't know that it also has anti-inflammatory properties. For this reason, I use it in salves and liniments for athletes or just for Dad after a long day of snow-blowing!

It makes a wonderful tea or tincture and can also be used for burns. You'll know you have the right flower when you rub the pistils in your fingers, and they leave a red stain. Be aware that SJW does contain photo toxins, which may result in photosensitivity in fair skinned individuals when exposed to bright sunlight. Though there are no documented cases of this condition in people using the herb, the potential does exist, and proper precautions should be taken.

From Steven Foster/Steven Foster Group, Inc. /

St. John's Wort is used to boost mood, but it also has inflammatory properties that make it ideal for athletes.

Plantain should look familiar to everyone as it is common all over the country. It is hemostatic, (arrests bleeding and hemorrhaging), decongestant, demulcent, (soothes irritated tissues) and vulnerary, (encourages wound healing by encouraging cell growth and repair). Because of this last attribute, it can be used in place of comfrey for treating bruises and broken bones. It can be used as a poultice for drawing out splinters or infections. Since it is also hemostatic, if you happen to cut yourself while gardening, grab a few leaves, chew them up and put them on the wound. It will stop the bleeding and start the healing process. Plantain is also great for bee stings. I use it in teas, tinctures and also in salves to help with wounds or burns.

Jewelweed is commonly known as "touch me not" because the seed capsules will burst open at the slightest touch. The juice from the stems is a common remedy for poison ivy. What's interesting about this herb is that it is often found growing in close proximity to the poison ivy. Isn't God wonderful? I use it to make an ointment for any type of itch or sting as well as burns, sprains or other skin conditions. If you want to know more about this wonderful herb, it is our featured Herb of the Month for July! Read all about it July 22.

Until next time,

Valere! (Be Well!)

Editor's note: Have questions for the herbalist? Email them to: [email protected]


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