My husband has been lax with the mowing lately which means I had a wonderful opportunity to forage some wild medicinal herbs! This is one of the benefits of NOT having a chemically-treated manicured lawn.
First up is an herb called Purple Dead Nettle. Odds are that you have seen this growing before. I see this stuff all over the place here in Virginia. The word “dead” in the title refers to this nettle not being a stinging kind like other nettles. So you can think of the word “dead” as being a synonym for “harmless”.
Purple Dead Nettle has heart shaped leaves, purple flowers, and a square hollow stem. Henbit is an herb that looks similar to it, but is also edible, so Purple Dead Nettle is a good herb for beginner foragers. That being said, I’m still going to give my standard disclaimer to not forage unless you know what you’re doing and to consult a doctor before starting any herbal supplement.
I have seen this herb referred to as a “super food”, but personally I think it is best used as a medicinal tea. It has a very earthy grassy taste like green tea, so feel free to sweeten it with some elderberry syrup. It has anti-inflammatory properties and gives a warming feeling to the body, so it’s considered good for cold & flu. I have also heard people say that it’s good for treating allergy symptoms. Due to it’s expunging qualities, if you drink too much you could experience diarrhea.
To prepare, remove the leaves and flowers, discarding the stem. Rinse off the leaves and flowers to get any bugs off of it. It is not uncommon to have tiny ants hiding in a leaf cluster. I don’t have a dehydrator, so I put them in the oven on a baking sheet at 170 for 6 hours. You want to make sure the leaves are completely dry before storing.
To make a tea, use three tablespoons of dried purple dead nettle per cup of tea. Steep for 5-8 minutes.
The idea of foraging and using your own medicinal herbs is very romantic and has been a dream for many of us since we were little girls. HOWEVER it is a lot of work and a rather time consuming hobby. Just because something is edible does not mean that it is worth your time. So that being said, I’m only focusing on a few key herbs that I believe are worth the effort and will be sharing those with you as the season goes on.
In other news, the turnips are getting BIG! I’m thinking I should be able to start harvesting them in about a week.
I also noticed some squash plants growing out of the compost heap. I haven’t ate squash recently so I think there are seeds from over the winter. Just proof that mother nature can do it better than we can!
And lastly, I put up a new video last week about how to talk to people about being a medium. There’s a lot of stigma in doing this kind of work. People have a tendency to either be dismissive or a little too interested. I have found though that there is a way to say it so that you can preserve your relationships and your reputation. If you haven’t seen that video yet, so you can watch it by clicking here.