Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Looking Into Purple Loosestrife

Lythrum salicaria, Purple Loosestrife.  It's my homework of the day.  I'm putting together a notebook of useful local herbs based on what I see blooming or growing right around me or at the farm to have a hard copy of respected sources, many of which I can find on the internet, especially from my favorite herbalists.  Because of the really wet season this year, the ditches along the farm road were full of loosestrife, even though during last year's drier year I never saw any rear their beautiful spires.

I understand that in many places this plant is considered invasive.  I've changed my opinion of many invasives after several thorough forays through the book Invasive Plant Medicine by Timothy Scott. At any rate, our own purple loosestrife does not appear en masse as it does in other areas of the country where it proliferates.  When I see a thriving wildflower or "weed" rear its head these days, I scurry to Google it and see if there is any mention of medicinal or edible uses.  It appears this plant has a long history of medicinal use, though it's fallen from use in the past century. Respected herbalist Jim McDonald has a good page on it, if you click for the link.

It appears to have uses for potentially treating blood sugar imbalances, inflammation, diarrhea, and as an eye restorative.  It also appears to me at this point to be what I'd consider a safe herb rather than a low dose herb, which means I will feel free to test it myself in various ways and combinations.

So I harvested a bunch!  I harvested the flowering tops and leaves and allowed them to dry the only way I presently know how to in this climate, which is indoors on a big beach towel under a constantly-turning ceiling fan, turning them often to insure even drying.  When the leaves were crispy-dry and the stems were dry enough to snap smartly when bent, I considered them dry enough.  A good handful of the flowers were put into 100% alcohol to tincture, and I'll check back with that batch in about 6 weeks to see if it's ready to bottle up.  The tincture is something I'll try myself, starting with a few drops at a time, for its potential blood sugar regulation assistance.

You really start to fall in love with plants so beautiful as well as clearly beneficial in so many ways!  The safe ones are a joy to play with, the fun of "herbal alchemy"!  :-)

I go now to do my homework.  I've just noticed the crownbeard is putting out blooms, too.  I "discovered" it last year when not sure what those really tall dusty-whitish flowering weeds were that were so prolific.  At the time, they were at the end of their season, so I'm determined I'll try my hand at seeing what can be done with them this year.  They, too, are a plant with past uses that have fallen out of practice in modern American times.  They, too, offer promising explorations!

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