Weeds! The bane of the modern gardener, weeds seem to grow better than most plants out there. They also self seed at a rapid rate. So, what’s the answer to the burgeoning weed issue? Eat them!

Did you know that many of the weeds are actually medicinal with numerous health benefits?

 It pays to know exactly what weeds are growing in your garden. Some are highly toxic and are best left alone. All photographs are taken from my garden, to help you better identify weeds

 

Dandelion

With its cheery yellow flowers, bright green serrated or toothy leaves and fluffy ball of seeds, the dandelion would have to be one of the most iconic weeds. Dandelion is a highly nutritious bitter green, valuable in so many ways. The US Department of Agriculture discovered after testing, that it is the most nutritious of all vegetables! Particularly rich in iron, calcium, Vitamins A, B6, E, K, B1, antioxidants, and beta and alpha-carotene.

Every part of the dandelion is edible.

The leaves are the best nutrition wise, in Spring. This is the best time to juice them in abundance. The leaves are wonderfully cleansing for the blood and skin. Add them to salads and even stir fries, though they are best consumed raw to keep their nutrition. The leaves are high in potassium

The roots are great to harvest in Autumn, dried and used as a tea/coffee substitute. You can add roasted chicory for extra dimension and healing power. For those with sluggish livers, you may wish to start off slowly with this mix as it is a powerful liver cleanser, gall bladder cleanser and pancreas cleanser.

The flowers are edible and be eaten as is in salads by removing the petals from the stalk and flower head, added whole to honey or left to turn to seed – which is my preference – to harvest for next growing season. The flowers are an important food source for all types of bees

Dandelions will grow pretty much all year round in warm – tropical climates.

Dandelion is a wonderful liver support herb, it’s a diuretic, nutritive, digestive stimulant and alterative.

As a digestive, dandelion helps to increase saliva, which is essential for the breakdown of carbohydrates. It stimulates the secretion of HCL (hydrochloric acid) in the stomach which is essential for preventing heartburn, breaking down proteins and keeping the digestion in the stomach in top condition.

For stagnant or sluggish liver, dandelion root is most effective. The leaf will work too, though much more gently. For those with hormonal issues such as not recycling estrogen correctly, dandelion root can be quite effective in helping the liver to process, metabolise and recycled hormones.

 

 

Plantain

A beautiful large rounded fleshy leaved, low growing plant. You can eat them, juice them or use them as a poultice.

The leaves are excellent for urinary tract infections, easing dry coughs, healing inflamed mucuous membranes in cystitis, diarrhoea and lung infections.

Make a poultice from freshly bruised leaves and apply to slow healing wounds and insect bites.

The younger leaves are best for eating though you can juice the larger outer, older leaves. Ensure you have a bit of fruit in the juice as plantain can have a very ‘green’ flavour.

Traditionally, plantain has been used to draw toxicity from the body (always ensure you have an excellent binding agent if you use it for this), purifying the blood and stimulating and regenerating the liver.

Clinical studies have confirmed the traditional use of this herb for easing coughs and irritation of the mucous membrane which are associated with upper respiratory tract infections.

Plantain is a demulcent. This means it creates a soothing film over the top of irritated mucus membranes. This property can also make the plantain leaf an effective relief for coughs caused by the flu, cold, and irritation, though it’s best suited to dry coughs.

The leaf is an immunostimulant. Take in times of need to keep the immune system strong

 

Ribwort

Ribwort has much the same properties as broad leaf plantain. The leaves are outstanding for those who suffer from allergic rhinitis or hay fever, sinusitis, asthma or bronchitis. It is a brilliant anti catarrhal

Flower spike of the ribwort plant

 

Purslane

 

A prostrate fleshy plant with succulent leaves. This wonderful medicinal herb is a profuse self seeder.

You can eat this raw, in stir fries or in smoothies. I don’t recommend juicing it at all as it is a mucilaginous plant and will end up with the texture of a large mucusy snot.

It has the richest source of omega 3 fatty acids of all leafy greens tested. It is high in protein, potassium, Vitamins A, C and E and full of antioxidants. The whole plant is edible, even the roots and seeds. The omega-3 fatty acids are essential for gut health. They help promote the production of IAP – Intestinal Alkaline Phosphatase. IAP decreases gut permeability, reduces metabolic endotoxemia and increases good gut bacteria.

If you’re after beautiful skin, add more purslane into your diet. Being high in Vitamin A, it helps to heal the skin and create gorgeous dewy glowing skin

 

Chickweed

 

Chickweed is a very misunderstood garden weed. It’s packed full of nutrition and can be consume raw, cooked, juiced, thrown into a smoothie or even made into a cake!

This little proliferate self seeder is often picked out or sprayed out of garden beds. Which is a real shame.

Use for digestion as a diuretic and gentle laxative. In traditional Indian medicine, chickweed is used as a preventative for obesity. It is very low in calories and extremely high in nutrition. It is a soothing and healing demulcent, helping internal ulcers. It is used for inflammation anywhere in the body. It has even been used traditionally for poor eyesight.

You can use it as an eye wash with chamomile for conjunctivitis

There are many ways you can consume these weeds: juicing, smoothies, stir fry, soups, stews, cassaroles. I’d only recommend not juicing purslane as it goes quite mucusy and gooey. A very similar texture to thick mucus. Otherwise, it is perfectly fine any other way.