Herbal Lore and the Wonder of Age-Old Plants–Beth Trissel


“Much Virtue in Herbs, little in Men.”
Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) Poor Richard’s Almanac
Simple wayside flowers, even weeds, have a far greater heritage than most people realize. We modern folk cannot begin to grasp the enormous part that herbs, any plant with leaves, seeds, or flowers used for flavoring food, creating medicine, or scents, played in every aspect of life in times past; the not so distant past. There were no Walmarts or drugstores to run to for health and beauty aids, no cures to be had at every corner. Well, maybe every corner if you were in the town market with vendors hawking their wares. I shudder to think what they put into some of that stuff. And physicians favored purges and blood-letting. Happy days, but back to the wonders of herbs. Remedies for everything from colds to the bubonic plague were brewed, made into tinctures, salves, the early form of pills…whatever means thought best for conveying the desired concoction into or onto the body.
A Modern Herbal by Mrs. M. Grieve, (not all that modern) first published in 1931 and my favorite herbal, allots six pages to dandelions alone. The yellow flowers of this much maligned weed, so loved by children, supply rich nectar for the bees and wine for man. The tender spring leaves are vitamin rich and eaten fresh, or dried for digestive drinks and herbal beer. The roots are roasted for dandelion coffee, said to be indistinguishable from real coffee, though I suspect I would detect the difference. The entire plant is esteemed as a tonic, especially good for the liver and kidneys. This just scratches the surface of the wonders of dandelion, the root of which I’ve noted included in my super antioxidant green tea blend from Yogi, as is burdock, a marvel in its own right. Burdock leaves and seeds are infused to treat many skin disorders, including eczema, and are taken as a remedy for nervous hysteria. An interesting combination and certainly useful.
Lovesick? Pansies, also known as heartsease, were highly valued for their potency in love-charms and played an important part in Midsummer Night’s Dream.
“There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance…and there is pansies, that’s for thoughts.” ~ William Shakespeare
***Royalty free images

12 responses to “Herbal Lore and the Wonder of Age-Old Plants–Beth Trissel

  1. Very interesting. Thanks for sharing 🙂

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  2. Great p[ost. Plants are just weeds when they’re growing where you don’t want them to grow, even flowers you like. I have now allowed a section of my gardens to be devoted to dandelions, since it tends to grow along the cement of my carport and sidewalk. If I see it pop up in the yard, I now actually transplant it to my herb garden for easy access to add to salads, though I haven’t yet tried the coffee decoction.

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  3. Great post, Beth! I have a book that shows the benefits of different herbal remedies. Have no idea what most of the plants look like though. But I think with the problems the pharmeceutical companies are having in coming up with medicines without so many side effects, not to mention the expense of those medicines, those old home remedies should be looked at again.

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  4. As a matter of interest today, Herbs for Energy by Lena E. Gabler is free on Kindle at Amazon today. It’s rated 4.4 stars

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  5. I’m very partial to herb teas and have even been known to make a very colourful salad from my garden plants. Sadly those inventive side salads haven’t hit th etable for a few years now. I wonder if the fact that I’m now writing has something to do with it? To Julie-when I first moved to this house I made dandelion wine, there being plenty to reap before the area became a strawberry patch.

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    • Thanks, Nan. Speaking of strawberries, our patches are sprawling. I’ve gotten more into the cooked greens as they are easier to digest and have added lamb’s quarters to the meld in the spring.

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  6. Dandelion wine? I’ll have to find a recipe! Thanks.

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  7. Pingback: Backyard medicine part 5: Burdock | Elemental Cheapness

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