Wild Medicines of Winter
I regularly put up medicinal herbs for the winter. This is an annual ritual, since most of the plants lose their potency within one year or less. Besides plants that we harvest just before cold weather sets in, there are a number of plant medicines available year-round.
For instance, willows contain salicylic acid. If that sounds familiar it’s because aspirin is manmade acetylsalicylic acid.
is a natural form and it is a powerful medicine. I sometimes use the fresh bark,
perhaps a half teaspoonful of chopped, inner bark, steeped in a tea. The only
drawback is that the wild product is not buffered and can cause stomach upsets.
Balsam fir, Abies balsamea, another tree with medicinal properties, is common throughout
Balsam gum has healing properties and can be used on cuts and other wounds.
It’s easy to gather the gum (oleoresin) by cutting or simply popping the
blisters, or bubbles on the bark. The leaves (needles) make a tea that is taken
for coughs and colds. Maine
I’ve said many times before that I prefer taking my medicine in the form of food. To that end, I favor watercress. Yes, you can buy watercress in the market but it grows wild, too. A stream behind my house has lots of watercress, and it grows year-round. It’s kind of cold work, reaching in the frigid water to pick watercress. But it’s worth it. Watercress is a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals, among which are Vitamins A, B, C, B2, copper, iron, calcium and magnesium. Its iron content is higher that that found in spinach. Watercress is low in carbohydrates.
I offer these as an example of what we can gather from the wild, even in mid-winter. There are plenty other plant medicines out there.