By Sandra Nomoto
There are an estimated 4,000 medicinal plants that can be found in the vast landscape of Canada. Here are five plants that are commonly found and have been widely used in our home country.
Known as the “miracle weed,” the dried roots and leaves of dandelion are commonly made into teas and tinctures, or powdered and encapsulated.
Containing fibre, minerals, and vitamins, dandelion greens can be eaten raw or cooked. Antioxidants are in the highest concentration in the flower, and have anti-inflammatory benefits.
Herbalists and researchers tout its positive effect on the immune system and potential treatment of heartburn, cancer, osteoporosis, anemia, joint stiffness, tuberculosis, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Chicoric and chlorogenic acid reduces blood sugar. Its compounds lower cholesterol, decreasing the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Lecithin in the flower may also help to improve memory.
Dandelion roots support the growth of healthy bacterial flora in the intestinal tract, which prevents gastrointestinal disorders. When ground and mixed with water, the paste can treat various skin disorders.
Creeping Juniper (Juniperus horizontalis)
This shrubby type of juniper is dried and used in teas to treat back pain.
Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica)
This plant is also known as common nettle, nettle leaf, or stinger, due to the hairs on the stems that inflict rashes.
Most popular in tea form, stinging nettle leaves are high in vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. If picked when young, its roots – high in iron and minerals – can be eaten.
Stinging nettle is most known for treating arthritis due to its anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, and pain-relieving properties. It also helps aid osteoarthritis pain and gout.
Stinging nettle has been used to treat stress, ulcers, nose bleeds, internal hemorrhaging, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), prostate cancer, and potentially, diabetes.
It is also known to treat seasonal allergies.
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
A flowering plant in the Asteraceae family, yarrow is a natural insect repellent. Used in both dried and fresh form, its wet leaves can be applied to stings or bug bites to relieve pain, or placed on wounds to stop bleeding.
Aiding in blood circulation, North American First Nations used yarrow to induce sweating to subside colds and fevers, and treat swelling, sprains, headaches, nosebleeds, diarrhea, skin rashes, and cuts.
Added to salves, skin lotions, and oils, yarrow is believed to help with a variety of skin issues, and reduces overall body and menstrual pain.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, yarrow supports the function of the kidney, spleen, and liver, and the body’s energy channels.
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. We advise readers to always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.