Gabriela Maxwell is Nurse Consultant in Primary Care in NHS Lanarkshire, and a Queen’s Nurse. You can read her profile here
These past few weeks have often been described as challenging and unprecedented because of the Coronavirus pandemic. Never in our lifetime has many experienced anything similar. In the future we might refer to this period as the ‘COVID year’ and there will be name for ‘now’ in the future and will be documented in history as so. We will always remember the before, now and future is yet to be.
I love nature and love watching everything regenerate and grow.
As I have been affected by this virus, it had left me in self isolation for a number of weeks. Coincidentally – the weather during this time has been unusually sunny, warm and fairly dry, with occasional night-time showers. I am not accurate in weather forecasts, but I can say for the weather to be so nice for this duration of time is unusual. Anyway, in this part of Scotland it has been sunnier and drier than what I am used to. I have been able to watch the beautiful spring unravelling outside with everything in bloom, with all shades of green coming to life too. I love nature and love watching everything regenerate and grow. The effect of COVID on services is such that common lawns are not being mowed. This is allowing for some simple flowers to grow and blossom. And I am in my element. Because all those little flowers are little treasures full of mystical powers and healing, whether physical or soul healing. I also live near a forest and to watch everything to come alive reminds us of the power of healing, regeneration and flourishing. Many a happy time spent watching, collecting, admiring, smelling and tasting – to appreciate every bit of it.
And this brings me to sharing with you few little ‘nature’ wisdoms all to be found on our doorsteps. Because there are just so many I could share, I will pick the first three obvious ones.
1/ Dandelion (Taraxacum)
It’s not your usual garden pest that requires removing. And bees love them too – now we all know (I guess) how remarkable honey is.
But your Dandelion is a very healthy plant in many respects.
Highly nutritious, contains antioxidants, may help fight inflammation, may aid blood sugar control, may reduce cholesterol, may lower blood pressure, may promote healthy liver, may aid weight loss, might fight cancer, might support digestion and treat constipation, may boost your immune system, may be useful skin care treatment.
Its blossom, leaves and the root can all be used. There are many ways in which you can process this plant.
Fresh leaves are excellent in salad.
Root can be cleaned, sliced and dried. Dry root is used for tea.
And for the blossom – dandelion honey or syrup is an excellent product. It can be made by using hot or cold method. Here is just one example (hot method) – https://www.thespruceeats.com/dandelion-honey-recipe-1806823
There are other ways you can get best from your Dandelion. It’s only about finding out.
The spring’s classic. Everyone knows daisy – but do you know its healing secret powers?
People take wild daisy tea for coughs, bronchitis, disorders of the liver and kidneys, and swelling (inflammation). They also use it as a drying agent (astringent) and as a “blood purifier.” Wild daisy is sometimes applied directly to the skin for wounds and skin diseases.
You can add daisy blossoms fresh to your salad. You can make fresh daisy blossom tea or you can dry the blossoms to use in winter and also in a mix with other herbs. And there is the daisy syrup – again cold or warm method can be used. Here is a link for the warm method. https://steemit.com/food/@mariola/homemade-healhy-daisy-syrup-treasure-of-nature
For more uses – explore.
3/ Plantain (Plantago lanceolata) – NOT TO BE MISTAKEN WITH COOKING BANANA
You might know your Daisy from your Dandelion but do you know this little beauty?
I have never had anyone point this plant to me since I have lived in Scotland. For those who do not know me I was born in former Czechoslovakia.
This little plant with has its own magic powers. Might not be attractive as daisy or dandelion – as its blossoms do not stand out to attention, therefore overlooked, but bees still love its nectar.
Here are some of its claimed powers.
Plantain is gentle soothing expectorant most indicated in irritated coughs and mild bronchitis. It may be more beneficial long-term. It exerts astringent and alterative properties internally, especially in chronic inflammatory conditions of the mucosa, glandular tissues, or septicemias. It has anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, lymphatic, anti-inflammatory, astringent, anti-allergic, anti-histamine, anti-catarrhal, expectorant,demulcent, alterative, anti-hemorrhagic, vasoconstrictor, antacid, diuretic, emollient, vulnerary, connective tissue tonic properties. The leaves can be used as a diuretic and astringent, and to treat wounds, insect stings, sunburn, skin diseases, eye irritation and inflammation of mouth and throat.
You can use fresh leaves or collect seeds (very laborious) to ground for flower. Leaves can be used in salads. My favourite is plantain syrup – excellent for all those coughs. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qlFlPpCEaak
More information here – https://www.eatweeds.co.uk/ribwort-and-greater-plantain-plantago-spp
Now from fresh, to dried, to alcohol/oil extract or processed in sugar/lemon mix – there is so many ways you can get the best from these plants, whether it’s the blossom, leaf or root to be processed. Another journey of discovery perhaps.
I loved sharing the above with you. However, there is so much more. Hope this sparks your interest about nature in a different light. I am passionate about its secrets.