More Wonderful Weeds

farmers friend

An introduction to the amazing benefits of farmers friends and thyme

After laying out some of the foundations of Naturopathy last week, now, its on with Australian plants and their often unknown uses as herbal medicines and (sometimes quite tasty foods!)

Farmers Friend – The good old Farmers friend, also known by a few other common names such as Cobblers peg and Beggar’s Ticks. These are the plants that have seeds or fruitlets with little prongs on the end that always get stuck in your socks, your clothes and just about everywhere else. They grow prolifically around this area in just about any patch of disturbed soil. They are a wonderfully tough pioneering species, preparing the soil again for the next generation of plants to follow.

Farmer’s Friends latin name is Bidens pilosa . It has a history of use any many countries around the world. You can use the whole plant.As a tea it can help slow bleeding of wounds when applied on the skin and, taken internally can also have a similar action (in first aid situations) for heavy menstrual bleeding. The plant is also great as a general tonic for the linings of the digestive, reproductive and urinary tracts, all having a similar makeup. The root of Farmer’s Friend is also useful, being said to help with prostate health.

Thyme – One of my personal favourite herbs is Thyme or Thymus vulgaris . This unassuming garden herb is used regularly in the kitchen to impart its wonderfully aromatic flavours. Unknown to many though is Thyme’s wonderful actions as a medicinal plant. Thymes volatile oils give it a great antiseptic quality. It can be prepared as a strong tea for batheing cuts and grazes to help prevent infection and facilitate healing. This same action also makes it a potent medicine for chest coughs. The volatile oils disperse into the lungs and help to break up mucus and congestion, reduce infection and stimulate productive coughing. Coughing is an important natural function of the body that helps remove foreign matter and mucus (often filled with dead bacteria) from the lungs. A cup of thyme tea can be mixed with half a teaspoon of slippery elm powder and some honey (manuka if you have it) to help ease sore throats and tonsilitis.

Next week we’ll explore two more common plants, the well known couch grass and nasturtium.

Please as always, before using any of these plants, be sure that they have been identified correctly. If in doubt, don’t! Avoid harvesting herbs from roadsides or areas where sprays or other toxic substances may have been used. If you are experiencing a serious health condition, please visit your health professional.

Article by Damian Harrison, Naturopath from Chamomile Naturopathy , Bellingen.