Plants are fantastic healers. I have been amazed again and again by the power of medicine made in the kitchen with my two hands. Tinctures, teas, infused oils, salves poultices and flower essences are medicinal preparations that are powerful healers and can easily be prepared at home with no special tools or gadgets. If you can make dinner you can make medicine.

Learning to work with plants to treat everyday ailments and improve your health and wellbeing is easier than you think. It begins with the plants around you and trust in nature's innate wisdom and the healing capacity of your body. They are intertwined in every way. Let your curiosity guide you.

Here is a list of the 10 easiest plants to work with to get your growing season off to a fabulous start. Some are considered weeds and others are easy to grow in your home garden.

1. Calendula (Calendula officinalis) is a lovely annual often referred to as pot marigold (not related to the marigold we all know). It grows in full-sun to light-shade and well-drained soil, where it self-sows and produces year-after-year once established. The sticky resins you feel on your hands when you harvest the blossoms are an important part of the medicine. Calendula is essential to any healing garden.

Primary uses:

  • One of the best all-around, skin-healing plants

  • Lymphatic (increases lymph circulation)

  • Boosts the immune system

  • Great for baby, body, and facial care products

Preparations: Tea, Tincture, Infused Oil, Salve, Poultice

2. Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) is another powerful plant with modern research to back up its centuries of folk use. Elder is considered a safe and effective remedy for children, too. It is an easy-to-grow, hearty shrub that prefers moist, fertile, well-drained soil. Lovely fragrant June blossoms give way to prized dark, purple berries in August. Positive ID is a must


Primary uses:

  • Immune booster specifically to support the body in fighting off the cold and flu viruses

  • Has an overall tonic effect on the body and is particularly helpful for both the respiratory and digestive tracts

Preparations: Tea, Tincture, Infused Oil, Salve, Syrup

3. Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) is a delightful perennial plant for zones 4 -10 that is easy-to-grow and a pleasure to work with. It is generally safe for children, as well as adults. Regular harvesting

keeps the plant from taking over the garden. It prefers full-sun to light-shade with average to dry fertile soil.

Primary uses:

  • Calms nervous tension and uplifts the spirit

  • Fever reducer

  • Mild sedative effect that promotes sleep + relaxation

  • Antiviral

  • Topical for cold sores

  • The fresh leaves make the best hot or cold tea.

Preparations: Tea, tincture, infused oil, salve

4. Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) also referred to as ‘wound wart’ and ‘carpenters weed’ is famous for its amazing ability to staunch bleeding. It grows in Zones 2-9 and is happy in most soils while preferring full to part sun. Yarrow is a wildflower that has made its way into garden stores with a variety of colors. The white yarrow is traditionally used medicinally and is often hard to find in local nurseries. A must for your herbal first aid kit!

Primary uses:

  • Blood Stauncher

  • Bruise Remedy

  • Fever Reducer

  • Hemorrhoids

  • Antiviral

Preparations: Tea, Tincture, Infused Oil, Salve, Poultice

5. Chamomile (Chamomilla matricaria) is a versatile easy-to-grow annual, which is well-known to many as chamomile tea. It is not fussy about soil conditions but prefers full sun but tolerates some shade. I have had luck starting the tiny seeds indoors, but they can also be placed directly in the garden. This plant will also self-sow if left to seed in the fall.

Primary uses:

  • Stomach aid both for upset and nervous stomachs

  • Nourishing and relaxing to the nervous system

  • Promotes sleep

  • Anti-inflammatory and natural antihistamine

  • Generally safe for babies and young children

Preparations: Tea, Tincture, Infused Oil, Salve, Poultice

6. Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale). A well-known beauty that does not get the respect it deserves. This common weed actually has centuries of use as a medicinal plant all the way from the ancient Greeks to current day. It is one of the first greens to pop up in the spring, is abundant, and makes powerful medicine. What's not to love!

Primary uses:

  • Key ingredient in many bitter recipes

  • Spring greens for their gentle tonifying and detoxifying effects

  • Root is used to treat liver problems and enhance blood

  • Diuretic

  • Nutritionally full of vitamins and minerals

Preparations: Tea, Tincture, Infused Oil, Salve, Food

7. Red Clover (Trifolium pretense) is a short-lived perennial member of the pea family that attracts pollinators and improves your soil in addition to its health benefits. It grows in most soils and can be sowed easily from seed. It can also reseed itself. Fresh flowers are super-nutritious, tasty, and make a beautiful addition to salads or can be eaten right off the plant.

Primary uses:

  • Blood purifier and tonic

  • Lymphatic; swollen glands or cysts

  • Nutritious wild food

Preparations: Tea, Tincture, Infused Oil, Food

8. Chickweed (Stellaria media) grows as a weed in many gardens and yards all over the US. It prefers moist, shady locations, is cold tolerant and will die back in the heat of the summer to return again each fall. It easily self-sows. The trick is to harvest the top 3 inches of the plant for the tenderest greens. Chickweed has volunteered itself in every garden I have had. Positive ID is a must as it has a couple of look-a-likes and two different varieties.

Primary uses:

  • Truly delicious and highly nutritious edible

  • Skin healing and cooling for eczema, rashes, burns & rheumatic joints

  • Helps speed fat metabolism

Preparations: Tea, Tincture, Infused Oil, Salve, Poultice, Food

9. Plantain (Plantago major) It is an abundant perennial and is said to be one of the most common plants on earth. You can find it growing in the most inhospitable of places and it seems to follow people wherever they go. I do not see this plant in the deep forest. Kids (and some adults) love the ‘spit’ poultice made from these leaves. Plantain is the one of the best herbal drawing agents and if you do not yet know this plant highly recommend learning it!

Primary uses:

  • Effective herbal band-aid for cuts, stings & bites

  • Skin remedy for nettles stings and poison ivy

  • Excellent drawing agent for cysts, splinters,

  • dirty wounds & infections

Preparations: Tincture, Infused Oil, Salve, Poultice

10. Nettle (Urtica urens) is a super nutritious wild edible that also has a long history of use medicinally. It is packed full of vitamins and minerals and is a primo edible. Also called stinging nettle due to the tiny hairs that inject formic acid into the skin on contact. Cooking or drying the nettle will deactivate the sting. This perennial plant spreads by runners and seeds and if allowed to grow in your yard is kept in check by regular harvesting.

If this list feels too long then choose one plant to get to know this summer. Learn how to identify it, where it likes to grow, what it tastes and smells, its medicinal uses and preparations. Watch it throughout the growing season. Sit next to it. Draw it. Meditate with it. Work with its medicine. Getting to know one plant deeply is often more useful than getting to know many plants broadly. Have fun with it. Let nature ignite your curiosity and heal your body.

Resources: Plant ID; Peterson Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs (Eastern addition if you are in Minnesota).

Medicine Making & Herbal Uses: Rosemary Gladstar's Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner's Guide: 33 Healing Herbs to Know, Grow, and Use

We have many other books available at Jewelweed for further study & research.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This post is for educational purposes and not intend to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease. For those who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or on any medications, please consult with a qualified health professional before beginning any new herbal or plant products.

By Ashlyn Cahill

During this last month or so, all of us have been experiencing a shift in our lives in one way or another due to the impact of COVID-19.  We have consciously (or even unconsciously) been experiencing our emotions and our human experience in a new way.  We’re all doing our best to adapt while we care for ourselves and our loved ones.  Many of us have found this to be an uncomfortable experience at times and being an empath or highly sensitive person can be extremely challenging right now.  You may be wondering - what exactly is an empath or highly sensitive person?  There are a few definitions for each out there, but here are the ones that seem to resonate most for what I’m referring to: 

Empath:  As defined by Judy Dyer in her book Empath, “An empath is a person with an open spirit; they unconsciously sense things in the unseen and the seen realm to the point where it can become a burden.  They pick up on the energy that is surrounding them and have a natural ability to tune in to the feelings of others.”

Highly Sensitive Person (HSP):  Psychology Today defines a HSP as having acute physical, mental, and emotional responses to external (social, environmental) stimuli - with mirror neurons more active than the average person - or internal (intra-personal) stimuli.”  A highly sensitive person will likely be told at some point in their life they “feel too much” or “feel too deep".

With the intensity of emotions such as fear, worry, anxiety, sadness and grief running high, we’re likely feeling stressed and exhausted as humans.  As an HSP or empath we may currently be overwhelmed with not only our own emotions, but the emotions of others that we have taken on ourselves. So it is now more important than ever to practice self-care and be kind to ourselves.  This includes allowing ourselves to feel these emotions exactly as they are when they come up.  Know that whatever these emotions may be that they are valid and there is no shame or guilt in what you are feeling - simply observe and experience them without judgement.  This allows your body, mind and spirit to move and release energies and emotions within your body as needed to adapt and heal.    

Here are some simple practices that may help you cope and deal with the intensity and overwhelm of emotions you are currently experiencing:  

1. Ground Yourself:   Engage all of your senses and give all of your attention to what they are experiencing in the moment.  For example, when you are outside, feel the sun on your face, the earth beneath your feet, listen to the sound of birds chirping and squirrels running around, watch the leaves on trees flutter in the wind or water flowing down a stream.  Notice how every inch of your body feels as you observe these sensations and sights. Try not to judge what you experience or notice,  just observe. This practice can also be done inside, maybe with a hot cup of cacao or tea – feel how your body reacts to the nourishment of the beverage as you drink it, feel the comfort of holding the warm mug, enjoy the taste and smell. Do anything you enjoy and find relaxing and be mindful how your body and mind experience it moment to moment. 

2. Meditate:  Meditation allows you to shut off your ego mind that is desperately trying to protect you right now by going through all the ‘what if’s’, worrying, analyzing and judging everything that is going on.  Give your ego mind gratitude for trying to help you and then give it permission to rest and turn off for a bit.  Give yourself time and space to find your way back to the quiet and stillness that is always inside of you. You can simply let your mind rest on your breathing.  Release the thoughts that come through your mind by letting them flow back out without judging or analyzing them first.  

The body innately knows how to heal itself and meditation allows your body to take a break from physiologically reacting to your thoughts and emotions and instead do the work it knows it needs to do to heal (including rest!).    

3. Move & Release:  I mentioned the importance of moving and releasing the energies and emotions in your body - there are countless ways to do this!  Do what feels best for you. Some of my personal favorites as an empath and HSP are to exercise, journal, take a salt bath, read, do yoga, spend time outside with mother nature, and spend time with loved ones while giving them my undivided attention. 

Just remember - we are all doing our best in the circumstances that we’re in, so be kind to yourself so that you can share that kindness with others.  We’ll only get through this if we do it together and it starts with caring for ourselves first. 🌸

by Jodi McKee

We are all finding ourselves in uncharted territory and wondering how to navigate the uncertainty. Let me encourage you to use the skills, knowledge and tools you have available. Often we know more than we think and sometimes look to others for guidance or reassurance but the place we should be looking is inside ourselves. Listening to the quiet voice of intuition. Being alert, rested and balanced we are better able to respond to situations in the outside world.

Other wellness tips include:

+ Eat as healthy as you can (for many this includes reducing dairy & gluten). Consider adding herbal teas, super foods and adaptogenic powders to your daily routine. Especially reishi, cordyceps, shiitake (and other mushrooms), astragalus, calendula, elderberry or chaga.

+ Do not underestimate the power of a good nights sleep. Herbs that encourage sleep include passion flower, skullcap, chamomile, lemon balm, ashwaganda, kava, blue vervain, and CBD.

+ Herbal medicine has many antiviral plants that we use to fight off infection including elderberry, thyme, boneset, osha, calendula, angelica, garlic and oregon grape.

+ Use your burnables, sprays and essential oils to help disinfect the air in your home. Open the doors and/or windows at least once per day to let the fresh air circulate. If you do not have a diffuser consider putting a pot the stove and simmering water with 5-10 drops an essential oil (tea tree, cinnamon, rosemary, peppermint, thyme, eucalyptus, myrrh, pine and many others). Again use what you have available.

+ Support your nervous system with time in nature, meditation and exercise. Consider herbs that soothe and nourish including milky oat, tulsi, chamomile, damiana, lemon balm, motherwort and lavender.

+ Consider the gentle medicine of flower essences to combat fears and anxiety

+ Use your next trip to the grocery store to stock up on herbal aromatics and foods. Make tea, broths, juice and cook with rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano, garlic, turmeric and ginger. These are powerhouse herbs available to most of us.

+ Have a plan and items on hand for home treatment if you or a family member becomes sick.

+ Reach out when you need support and connection.

+ Take inspiration from reading, podcasts, and tv programs that fill you up, inspires you and gives hope.

Note: I am not a doctor and the above is for not meant to diagnose or treat but is only for educational purposes. Use common sense and seek medicine advice when necessary.


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