Home / Health / The intriguing verdict of the NHS's largest British medical herbalist in his new book

The intriguing verdict of the NHS's largest British medical herbalist in his new book



They are under our feet, crawling on our lawns and overflowing the flower beds. At this time of year, there is constant battle to keep the garden out of their opportunistic clutches, and when we dug them up, we throw them into the garden tub or even the burns.

But wait – not so fast with the trowel. This summer, a host of new books – the very practical Root To Stem by Alex Laird, the incredibly illustrated Weeds In The Heart by Nathaniel Hughes and Fiona Owen, and John Wright's famous book The Forager's Calendar – proudly raise the modest garden heap of compost at the trendy table.

According to our authors, bursting with nutrients to compete with trendy kale or chicory chic, many of our wild invaders have a powerful superfood punch. Use the leaves for flavor and health, flowers for color and roots for herbal coffees and herbal teas.

Weeds are numerous, thrive anywhere and are absolutely free.

Alex Laird, medical herbalist, reveals a selection of the best plants to grow in your organic garden to improve health, such as dandelion (shown) to aid digestion (image of the file)

Alex Laird, medical herbalist, reveals a selection of the best plants to grow in your organic garden to improve health, such as dandelion (shown) to aid digestion (image of the file)

However, not everyone is an instant fan. While the weed evangelists lamented, it would be wrong not to acknowledge some lack of seriousness about a handful of stinging nettles on your plate.

And, obviously, you can not pick an old weed from a roadside or a public park without knowing first what it was sprayed with, whether chemical or animal.

But consider them as wild herbs, and respect the environment of your organic garden or grow in really wild and untouched places. A delicious new world of culinary possibilities opens up. (And do not forget the seaweeds: Marine biologists will tell you it's not a weed – it's an alga – but it's actually a free equivalent on the the sea of ​​a free herbal meal, it is part of the trend.)

Here, ALEX LAIRD, a qualified medical herbalist who treats patients in the NHS's only hospital-based herbal clinic, explains how to get the most out of your own pharmacy of weeds.

Dandelion for digestion

Most of us frequent our lawns covered with dandelions, but this yellow-leaved leaf plant is very nutritious – it contains calcium, potassium, zinc, iron and vitamins A, C and K – and is a proven auxiliary for digestive health.

In French, the plant is called dandelion because of its diuretic effect, useful for clearing the kidneys.

Obviously avoid if your lawn is chemically treated. Otherwise, each part of the plant is edible.

Add the lightly bitter young leaves to the salads or stir-fries, make them wither like spinach or sprinkle them on a homemade pizza. Include the pretty flowers in a risotto, bake them or fry them in tempura dough like zucchini flowers. You can even ferment the flowers to make dandelion wine! The root, which is sometimes roasted to produce a smoked herbal coffee, can also be cooked and served as a carrot or parsnip. Sprinkle some honey if you want.

Alex suggests cutting the juice of sticky cleavers (photo) for a daily detox. The plant can also be crushed and infused with other natural ingredients to soothe sunburn (file image)

Alex suggests cutting the juice of sticky cleavers (photo) for a daily detox. The plant can also be crushed and infused with other natural ingredients to soothe sunburn (file image)

CLEAVERS STICKY FOR A DETOX

More commonly known as cabbage grass, goose bumps, or velcro, because of its small hooks that stick to clothing, this teeming climber is replete with minerals, vitamin C, and phytonutrients that make it a staple. classic detoxifier. the liver and the lymphatic system.

You'll find it near parks and subdivisions, or wherever there are many weeds.

For the best taste, choose young stems, 7.5 cm to 10 cm, because the largest square stems are too difficult to eat.

A word of warning

Some weeds look like their edible cousins. Always check before picking and consulting an experienced herbalist if in doubt. Like all weeds, weeds can be powerful. If you are taking prescribed medications, ask your doctor before eating.

Either a handful with ginger for a quarter of glass to consume every day for a month, or infuse a crushed plant handle into half a liter of water during the night and drink in the morning.

You can also steam or sauté and serve as a vegetable. Puree if you think you can not go beyond this hairy texture! If you do not mind, you can add some young shoots to a salad – their fiber nourishes our intestinal microbes and contributes to healthy bowel function.

And you can do more than just eat them. For a lotion that soothes sunburn, crush a handful of stems in a mortar and add an infusion to a pint of milk.

The medical herbalist says that the stellar (pictured) can be helpful in moving the extra pounds gained by the HRT (image of the file)

The medical herbalist says that the stellar (pictured) can be helpful in moving the extra pounds gained by the HRT (image of the file)

USE CHICKWEED TO START A PLAN

You see a bright green weed crawling over borders and threatening your summer bedding; Trendy restaurateurs appreciate the microgreen of nature, an elegant and fashionable raw filling that suits almost any dish. Spread fish or meat, or use on a salad. Or dip a few cups in boiling water for a few minutes and serve lightly buttered with a little parmesan.

Chickweed could also help you lose weight, especially if the weight gain is due to HRT. It has been used for decades as a diuretic and appetite suppressant, making it a great way to start a diet.

It has also been proven that the kidneys and lungs can be beneficial. In 2012, a Chinese study examined its traditional use as a poultice for dermatitis.

As tea, it is used by herbalists to calm the wind.

Alex recommends picking up the algae (photo) during a visit to the coast because some varieties can improve digestion, regulate hormones and even lighten the skin (image of the file).

Alex recommends picking up the algae (photo) during a visit to the coast because some varieties can improve digestion, regulate hormones and even lighten the skin (image of the file).

Algae to lighten the skin

During a visit to the coast, collect some marsh samphire, marine beet (wild beet), sea cabbage or sea purple. Low in calories and rich in iron, seaweed offers phenomenal benefits for health. Marine beet and purslane reduce cholesterol and are excellent for heart health, while sea cabbage helps regulate hormones and improve digestion.

The marsh samphire is full of vitamin C and is known to have a naturally astringent illuminating effect on the skin.

Once at home, keep the chilled leaves in a sealed bag for about four days. Add them to noodles or risotto for a salty crisp, or use them to make sushi rolls.

Alex says that hedge garlic (pictured) works wonders to relive clogged heads and to treat coughing, the crop can also be used externally to treat wounds (image of the file)

Alex says that hedge garlic (pictured) works wonders to relive clogged heads and to treat coughing, the crop can also be used externally to treat wounds (image of the file)

Garlic hedge treats hair

Present in abundant crops in hedges and woods, hedge garlic (also known as mustard garlic) gives off a delightful scent of garlic when the leaves are crushed and is excellent to relieve the clogged head and treat the cough.

Used on the outside, it is said to soothe bruises and sores.

Cut a few leaves from each plant. Chop them and add them to the dips or mayonnaise for a hint of mustard garlic.

You can also use them instead of mint in a roasted lamb sauce. To make a pesto, take three good handfuls of garlic leaves (washed), 2 tbsp. Parmesan or other cheese, 2 tbsp. Toasted pine nuts (or others) and 2 tbsp. To soup of extra virgin olive oil. Add a little lemon juice, pepper and salt, to taste, then mix all the ingredients.

This pesto can be kept for about four or five days in a jar in the refrigerator. Just cover it with a little more olive oil once opened. Or freeze it.

The medical herbalist revealed that the blackberries (pictured) contained a range of nutrients beneficial to health, including manganese, to fight wrinkles (image of the file).

The medical herbalist revealed that the blackberries (pictured) contained a range of nutrients beneficial to health, including manganese, to fight wrinkles (image of the file).

THE BLACKBERRIES TO STIMULATE THE BRAIN

Fun and free, picking wild blackberries is one of those summer rituals that we all remember from childhood.

But in addition to entertaining children, it is a very beneficial activity for health.

These are small black jewels filled with nutrients beneficial for health. This sweet juice that flows on your fingers and your chin is black because of a pigment containing anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants that enhance our immunity and protect us from allergies.

Blackberries are also rich in manganese, which plays a key role in the formation of collagen and keeps wrinkles at bay.

In 2013, a study by the European Journal of Nutrition found that polyphenols found in wild black berries had "neuroprotective effects" that could slow down age-related cognitive decline.

The easiest way to eat them is unadorned and fresh from the hedge. Or, for a quick dessert, arrange them in a shallow dish and spread them over chopped mint. Cover with a layer of fresh cream (or oatmeal cream) and sprinkle with brown sugar. Pop under a preheated grill for about five minutes until the sugar bubbles.

How to overcome your menopausal fatigue

The nettle should definitely be known as a superfood.

In addition to containing almost three times more calcium than kale, nettles are a source of protein and iron and are replete with vitamin A, vitamin C, magnesium and potassium.

With a rich medicinal history, they are now used by herbalists to treat urinary tract infections and relieve the symptoms of menopause such as joint pain, fatigue and dry skin.

Alex recommends relieving menopausal pain by preparing tea from freshly chopped nettles (see photo) and elderflower (file image).

Alex recommends relieving menopausal pain by preparing tea from freshly chopped nettles (see photo) and elderflower (file image).

Arm yourself with gloves and scissors to harvest them and pick the young shoots before they flower. Mixing or cooking neutralizes the sting, but do not use them in a salad! You can cook nettles like spinach or add young shoots to a vegetable soup.

To prepare a tea to alleviate menopausal pain, take a handful of freshly chopped nettles and elderflowers, as well as a tablespoon of thyme. Pour in 1 liter of boiling water and add fresh ginger slices to taste. Infuse 20 minutes and drink all day. No need to filter the herbs. Beer improves its left more.

Refrigerate once cool because it's delicious cold.

ELDERFLOWER FOR HAYFEVER

The elderflower is another reason to be outdoors at this time of year. You will find these abundant flowers in the cities and the countryside, as well as in the countryside. Look for clusters of tiny, flat-topped white flowers hanging in sprays with a heady, creamy scent.

Elderflower is an excellent remedy for hay fever because of its high concentration of flavonoids, an antioxidant polyphenol with powerful anti-allergic properties. It also looks and the taste is beautiful.

The flower heads reveal their unique taste when they are added to liquids. The floral taste of elderflower has often been used in jams, gin, champagne and fruit juices.

At home, you can infuse elderflower into a cream for a scented panna cotta or freeze the flowers in water to make lollipops or granita.

According to Alex, Elderflower (photo) is an excellent cure for hay fever because of the high concentration of flavonoids (image of the file).

According to Alex, Elderflower (photo) is an excellent cure for hay fever because of the high concentration of flavonoids (image of the file).

To make your own elderflower syrup, bring 500 g sugar and 1 liter of water to a boil in a saucepan, stirring until the sugar dissolves.

Remove from heat and add the zest and juice of two un-waxed lemons and 1 tbsp. Tea of ​​citric acid. Then completely submerge 15 to 20 heads of elder flowers. Cover with a lid and let stand 24 hours.

Strain muslin or paper towels and pour into sterilized bottles. Label with the date and place of the harvest. Store in a cool, dry place; once opened, it will keep for about three to four months in the refrigerator. You can also freeze it for ice cubes that you will use as needed.

Adapted by Alison Roberts of Root To Stem, by Alex Laird (Penguin Life, £ 9.99). © Alex Laird. To order a copy for £ 7.99 (20% discount), call 0844 571 0640. P & P is free for orders over £ 15. The offer is valid until June 22, 2019.


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