I love flora, fauna and all things green. From time to time I come across something really interesting, that I would love to share. When I heard about eight garden weeds that benefit your health, I was curious to discover more. I hope you find this article as interesting as I did.
Eight Garden Weeds That Benefit Your Health
The top eight garden ‘weeds’ that benefit your health
By Roy Lamb, pharmacist and co-founder of Nasslor Health Drinks.
When you think of superfoods you probably think of acai berries, chia seeds, or some other exotic plant. Yet, you may be surprised to discover that a wide range of plants common to the UK can provide a whole host of health benefits. You may even find a fair few growing as, weeds in your garden.
So, before you throw all that nutritional goodness in the compost bin, check this list to find out if they could be put to better use in your kitchen.
Nettle (Urtica dioica)
The stinging nettle grows pretty rampantly throughout the UK. But did you know that it contains about as much Omega-3 as spinach, essential amino acid levels comparable to chicken, and a whole host of vitamins, including: 100% of your recommended daily intake (RDI) of Vitamin A, up to 50% of Calcium, 20% of Fibre and up to 12% of Iron (1).
To prepare nettles to eat, simply drop them in a pot of boiling salted water for a few minutes to render the sting harmless. Alternatively, you can dry them (using a dehydrator if you have one) or soak them in water for a few days. You can then use them in a variety of recipes, such as nettle pesto or soup, or as an infusion in tea. Alternatively, pick up a can of Emunity ─ a new healthy soft drink that harnesses the healing and immunity-boosting effects of nettle.
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita L.)
One of the most popular ingredients in herbal teas is chamomile. While its benefits to a good night sleep have been widely reported, there is strong scientific evidence to suggest that this common flower has a range of other health benefits.
The chemicals found in chamomile flowers have been shown to be moderate antioxidants and antimicrobials. What’s more, animal model studies indicate potent anti-inflammatory action and some cholesterol-lowering activities (4).
Chamomile flowers can be washed, dried and used on their own, or as a blend, in herbal teas. It also serves as an attractive and healthy garnish to desserts, such as panna cotta.
Be careful if you are allergic to flowers like daisies, however, as chamomile can cause allergic reactions.
Elderflowers (Sambucus nigra L.)
Another popular and refreshing summer drink is elderflower ─ often in the form of cordial. The earliest records of elderflower cordial date back as far as Roman times!
You can often find fresh elderflower throughout the British countryside and sometimes in your back garden. Fresh elderflowers also contain a lot more goodness than their dried counterparts, so making it yourself can be one of the best ways to extract the full health benefits of these flowers.
Elderflowers are a rich source of bioactive compounds, such as polyphenols, which bring a number of health benefits such as anti-pyretic (helping reduce fever), diuretic, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory (5).
Broadleaf Plantain (Plantago Major)
When you think of plantain you probably think of the green banana relative found in African and East Asian cuisine. The broadleaf plantain, however, is a completely different plant commonly found across Europe.
Often found by roadsides as a leafy weed, the broadleaf plantain has a wide variety of health benefits that have been used as far back as 1000 years ago. More recent studies have shown that broadleaf plantain can be useful for enhancing the immune system, reducing the size of tumours, and protecting the gut (6).
It is also an anti-inflammatory, anti-infective, antibiotic, antifungal, antiviral and antioxidant (6), and they are also high in calcium and vitamins A, C, and K (7). It can also be used to heal the skin when applied locally.
Both leaves and the seeds of the broadleaf plantain can be eaten raw or cooked in stew or simply baked on their own.
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale L.)
One plant we have all found growing in our garden at one point or another is the dandelion. And while we may have enjoyed a glass of dandelion and burdock at some point, we may not have considered