Image: Rod Allday
Jewelweed or Spotted Touch-Me-Not (Impatiens capensis).
A poultice from the crushed leaves of jewelweed can be used on poison ivy rash; this poultice also works for cuts, burns, bug-bites, sprains, warts and ringworm. Juice from the stems also can be applied to poison ivy rash.
Here in North America, a number of plants that live close to us have healing properties, most of which would benefit from further research.
Much of today’s information has been passed along either from American Indians or as “old wives’ tales.”
Warning! Like aspirin (which comes from the bark of Willow trees), whatever can heal or ease discomfort can just as easily make you deathly ill, even kill, when the wrong dosage is used.
Double Warning!! Verify every plant identification via a trained botanist before ingesting any portion of any plant – because you are literally staking your life on the plant’s identification.
That said, following are a few of the more common plants and their traditional usages.
Common Cattail (Typha latifolia).
The American Indians use a poultice from the roots on wounds, boils and burns.
Japanese Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica).
A tea from Honeysuckle flowers has been used in Eastern Asia for enteritis, fever, flu – and also as an external wash for arthritic joints, sores and scabies.
Image: Carol Wingert
Spicebush (Lindera benzoin).
The American Indians use a tea from the berries for colds, cramps, arthritis and anemia. Oil from the berries would be applied to bruises and painful muscles. Tea from Spicebush bark helps fevers and to expel worms.
Image: Charles T. Bryson, USDA Agricultural Research Service
Gill-O’er-The-Ground or Ground Ivy (Glechoma hederacea).
A tea from the leaves works for lung ailments, jaundice and kidney problems; the tea can be applied externally for backaches and piles.
Slippery Elm (Ulmas rubra).
A tea brewed from the inner bark helps ease a sore throat and irritated stomach – in addition to other mucous membranes.
These six healing plants are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to potential healing qualities in specific plants.
Next time you mow your lawn or walk down a woodland path… look around you.