Common Roots Video Collection
Bloodroot is a perennial member of the poppy family that grows throughout Eastern Canada woodlands and as far west as Manitoba and northern Saskatchewan. Its flower is so delicate that the lightest breeze will cause petals to fall off the same day they open. Each flower is unique having from 7 to 16 petals but usually thirteen. Later, each seedpod will contain 25 or more seeds.
Birch trees attract various medicinal fungi, including Chaga (Inonotus obliquus), and Birch Polypore (Piptoporus betulinus). They require boiling to liberate polysaccharides, so one approach to creating a healthy product is to add one kilo of powdered Chaga to 40 litres of birch sap and reduce down to syrup. This will preserve the medicinal value in a tasty form for daily maintenance of your immune system.
The fresh root is used for a variety of skin disorders, probably due in part, to anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties. It is first and foremost an alternative or blood purifier, which means that it helps the liver and kidneys detoxify more efficiently.
Burdock root has the ability to dredge toxins from the connective tissue and move them into the bloodstream. Therefore, it is important to choose complementary herbs to find a balance between tissue detoxification and toxin elimination.
The Wild Touch Me Not is an important wilderness remedy for rashes, and allergic reactions to aggressive plants like nettle, cow parsnip and poison ivy.
It relieves the pain of insect bites, burns, sprains, and a variety of skin diseases including ringworm. This mild fungicidal action makes it a good choice for athlete’s foot, especially on the trail. Work by Thomas Sproston, at the University of Vermont in 1950, tested 73 plant extracts for anti-fungal activity and found Wild Touch Me Not, Nasturium and Muskmelon the most active.
Calendula is often thought of for healing a variety of skin disorders and wounds. In an open study, 30 patients with first or second-degree burns were treated three times daily for two weeks with a hydrogel containing 10% flower tincture. All steadily improved. Baranov et al, Dtsch Apoth Ztg 1999 139.
But calendula is more than simply a first aid remedy for cuts and burns.
The root of evening primrose (O. biennis) has been found to be strongly anti-fungal. It is probably due to the gallic acid and unknown constituents. The root can be made into syrup by chopping freshly harvested and cleaned pieces in twice the amount of honey and slowly reducing. It is great for irritating coughs or tickle that does not respond to other demulcent, relaxing herbs.
Evening-Primrose leaves, stems, flowers, fruit and roots have been extracted with water, ethanol, ether and alkalis. Activity against gram negative, gram positive and mycobacterium has been found.
Fireweed is a healer of burns, including mother earth. Whenever forest fires have devastated, the beautiful magenta blooms begin the healing process, and prepare the soil for willow and poplar to follow. Fireweed is indifferent to soil pH, and is adaptable to both acidic and alkaline soils.
The fireweed starts flowering from the bottom up, each blossom lasting only two days. On the first, it produces sticky turquoise colored pollen, and on the second no pollen, but is receptive to fertilization and gives off a strong fragrance from its nectar. Older blossoms contain more nectar, giving bees a drink first, before they climb up to scrape pollen out of the younger flowers.
Hazelnuts are a rich source of vitamin E, necessary for reproductive health. Hazelnuts are also the perfect heart food, helping ensure that the blood vessels remain flexible and blood pressure is reduced. Circulation is improved, helping those who suffer from cold hands and feet.
Hazelnuts are high in protein and fasts, and low in starch and sugar, making them useful for those suffering blood sugar problems. The nuts are also extremely rich in boron, at 2.72 mg/100 grams. Boron is a very important mineral in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis, by playing a key role in controlling calcium excretion and retention.
Wild sarsaparilla is abundant among the poplar and birch forest of the aspen parkland and sub-boreal forests of the prairie. I call it Alberta Ginseng, as this plant and Devil’s Club are our two resident members of the famous herbal family.
The plant is unusual in that the flower and leaf stems separate just above the root. Mature plants may live up to forty years. Bristly sarsaparilla is found on dry soil in the boreal forests of Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Spikenard is fully hardy to our area but its native turf is further south and east.
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