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Medicinal Wild Plants of Sligo

 From the corner of my eye I see a glint of yellow brightness. A quick glance over my shoulder and the winter weather is forgotten by the appearance of the golden flowers of the Tussilago farfara (Coltsfoot). Spring is almost here and this seasonal herb radiates the benefit and warmth of the sun – dispelling coughs and the effects of the dark cold days of winter.

 Tussilago’s vibrant flowers are always the first of Spring in the sand dunes of the beaches of north Sligo. Easily recognised from it’s unusual woolly purplish stems and lack of leaves! The leaves only appear after flowering has finished explaining the plants old name; The Son Before The Father. The plants common name helps us identify it while it’s botanical name hints to it’s medicinal use. Coltsfoot describes the plants leaves which can be covered in a downy white cobweb like layer. Whilst the botanical name Tussilago derives from tussive which refers to coughing. Traditionally the leaves were smoked to relieve asthma and can still be found in herbal tobacco mixes.

Read More: Tussilago farfara ~ Coltsfoot

A perfect soup for strengthening the immune system for this time of year is organic chicken bone broth with Astragalus root, shitake mushroom, onion, garlic and thyme.

Astragalus membranaceus root is an immune modulator and stimulant which is well researched for its use alongside cancer treatments.

Read More: Shitake Mushrooms and Astragalus root for Immunity

The well known spice Turmeric (Curcuma spp.) has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties. We grow Curcuma at our nursery Bareroot Botanicals in north Sligo. It is the rhizome of the plant we use, mostly to tincture, for clinic. Curcuma rhizome has to be one the top 5 herbs I use for liver detoxification. Whether liver detoxification is needed for arthritis, skin conditions or general detox Curcuma is indicated.

Read More: Start your New Year Detox with Turmeric

All around the country there are healing wild foods ready to be harvested and used as medicine. Wild Garlic (Ramsons) is one of these foods. Pictured above,

Wild Garlic is found in woodlands growing under trees and along river banks. It is important when you are harvesting any plant from the wild that you identify it properly so bring a good wild plant guide book or an experienced forager with you.

Read More: Wild Garlic Pesto

TOP TIP coming into the winter months ~ Reduce the DAIRY!
One of the most common causes of congested sinuses and recurring phlegmy chest infections is too much dairy in the diet. Throughout the winter months when the weather is damp it is best to reduce your intake of dairy to avoid mucus build up leading to congestion of the airways. Respiratory conditions are one of the most common ailments I treat in clinic in both adults and children.

Read More: Reduce The Dairy!

The Elder trees are all in full blossom at the moment so make use of it's fantastic medicinal benefits.
We've been out harvesting the blossoms for drying and tincture making. Elderflower is a great anti-inflammatory. Its many uses include upper respiratory conditions like sinusitis, hayfever, fever and cold's and flu's.

For a summertime HAYFEVER TEA place equal parts of fresh Elderflower, Nettles and Plantain leaf in a teapot, add boiling watre and allow to stew covered for 10mins. A good big handful of herbs is enough for a teapot. Take 3-4cups throughout the day hot or cool.

Read More: Elderflower Cordial Recipe

Make your own Lemon Balm herbal lip salve for that winter cold sore. No need to suffer from recurrirng cold sores when making a few simple steps towards better health can minimise your symptoms and possibly rid yourself of this annoyance. Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) is a wonderful plant containing anti viral essential oils useful in the treatment of cold sores.

Cold sores are the oral version of Herpes simples virus (HSV) This is a viral infection small producing fluid filled blisters on the skin. It is highly contageous, passed by kissing or through other physical contact.

Read More: No More… Mr. Cold Sore!

It's that time of year working with the wonderful herbs that we finish off our straining and decanting of oils, glycerites and vinegars and begin focusing on Autumn root harvesting for tincturing and drying. All our St. John's Wort Oil was strained a month ago, had been left to settle and now is being decanted and bottled. LOOK AT THAT COLOUR! It still amazes me how those bright yellow flowers containing a dark magenta oil extract into this blood red colour. Hypericum perforatum (St. John's Wort) oil works so well for sciatic pain and any other neuralgic pain - It's one of the main ingredients in my Shingle Tingle Cream. If you are interested in making your own oil, it's simple... check out our videos section for a demo.

Ah, there is nothing like harvesting Echinacea purpurea flower heads on a sunny August afternoon. We use both the flowering heads and roots of the plants to make tincture and have dried for teas. The root is not harvested till autumn of the 4th year of growth. Echinacea can be found in our Winter tonic tea mix. It is an amazing lymphatic and immuno stimulant, anti-inflammatory and anti-biotic plant. It boasts both anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. It's Echinacea's polysaccharide and alkamide content that give it these healing actions.

Read More: Echinacea purpurea Harvest