Immune boosting wild plants
In this current climate we are all searching for ways to boost our health and support our immune system to combat germs and fight the outbreak of the coronavirus. Natures larder is bursting with wild plants right now as we move into Spring and there is much to forage in the hedgerows and along the shoreline to make tinctures, teas and oils with or just add as health boosting ingredients to your usual meals. In this guide we are sharing a few of our favourite foraged plants that can be found in Spring that are reputed to help your immune system and fight infection.
Chickweed (Stellaria media)
Chickweed has long been used as a spring tonic for it’s cleansing and immune boosting powers, it has so many uses to provide support for our bodies as we come out of winter. Cleansing the liver and whole lymphatic system, chickweed also contains saponins, which help to increase the body’s ability to absorb nutrients. They also help the body fight cysts, benign tumors, and importantly at this time clearing any mucus in the respiratory system and congestion in the lungs. The list of health benefits are long and with chickweeds anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and antifungal properties this powerful plant can help with skin complaints when applied as a homemade salve too. Forage for chickweed in Spring, it is a very common weed and can be found amongst grasses and in fields, waste lands and woodlands.
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Yarrow is reputed for it’s relief benefits for coughs and colds and due to it’s diaphoretic capacity Yarrow is also great for bringing down fevers. The whole plant can be used, including the stem and yarrow grows in fields, by roadsides and along the boundaries of wooded areas. It’s a delicate plant and has beautiful white aromatic flowers that come out in late spring and summer. Look out for it’s early feathery leaves amongst the grass in Spring time and make a soothing tea to help combat infections and support your immune system at this time.
Cleavers (Galium aparine)
Cleavers are one of the first wild herbs we find in spring around March and like many other plants like nettles this is the best time to pick Cleavers as they are young and tender. Well known for their medicinal properties, cleavers stimulate your lymph nodes to cleanse and nourish your blood to clear toxins, this helps our immune system to function better, transporting infection-fighting white blood cells, throughout the body. Cleavers are prolific and grow everywhere, by verges, in the garden, along paths. They are an easy forage and can be used to make cleaver tea or tinctures, or add them to salsas or pestos. See our cleaver salsa verde recipe here.
Foraged tinctures, teas and oils
Foraged Tincture recipe: The typical ratio for fresh tinctures is 1 part plant to 2 parts alcohol, at an alcohol content of 50%. Leave in a cool dark place for 4 weeks, recommended dose is 20 – 75 drops up to 4 times daily. You can also combine herbs and use vinegar instead of alcohol, if using this method use 1:4 ratio.
Foraged Oil recipe: Infused oils and salves can be created at home using a ratio of 1 part plant to 3 parts oil. The plant needs to be wilted overnight first, we prefer to use coconut or olive oil, warm over a low heat for at least 6-8hrs and then strain. A salve can also be made from the oil.
Foraged Tea recipe: Teas using foraged plants are made up of a ratio of 1 part herb to 10 parts water. Simple add the herb to boiling water and infuse for around 10-15 minutes before straining. 1 -3 cups a day.
All foraged herbs can be made into tinctures, teas or oils. We hope you give them a try and this small foraging guide is helpful to you and your health at this time. There are plenty more foraging guides on our blog and we host foraging courses all year round in Dorset so if this kickstarts a new interest we hope you join us on a course in the future to learn more about wild plants and how foraging can help you with your health and wellbeing.
At this time even in line with the recommended social distancing try to get outdoors, nature really is a healer and there are lots of resources and books that we can recommend so please ask any questions, stay safe x