Updated: Jun 6, 2018
Let thy food be thy medicine, and let thy medicine be thy food.
I remember writing those timeless words in bold, colorful font, to post on the flaking walls of the Nabasovi Village Nursing Station, where I worked as a Peace Corps Volunteer for two years. In my outer-island Fiji post, so much revolved around food and plants. Preparing dinners for the entire village, spending the the afternoon foraging for greens -- these were the moments that inspired me to pursue herbalism upon return from service.
Food nourishes and sustains us. It should be our medicine, helping us heal. In Fiji, nature's medicine bloomed everywhere the eye touched and the hand grazed. Noni decorating the bushes, coconuts dangling from above, maidenhair seaweed adorning the low tide line...
Many thousands of miles away, I'm back where my roots go deep, back in coastal Massachusetts. It's spring time. For weeks the warmth of earth's awakening has teased us.
Yes, spring is finally here. And due to no particular effort of my own, our yard is filled with wild foods. Precisely the medicine we need, as we gladly trade snuggly fireplace evenings for refreshing garden mornings.
I think I will be forever acquainting myself with the wild allies that we walk alongside. I'm still familiarizing myself with their many faces, their seasonal evolutions.
But the friends that have proudly taken up the most space throughout my yard are unmistakeable -- Chickweed, Cleavers, and Dandelion.
I'm ready to shake off the residual winter sluggishness, and these green goddesses are just the medicine I need!
Most days I incorporate a handful of weeds into a meal (or sometimes just munch on them as a digestive aid and snack). I'm busier than I'd like to be these days, so I keep it simple - pick, chop, mix into anything.
This morning, I was craving something lighter. I also woke up with an appetite for some delicious Brix Bounty sorrel. And so was born the Wild-Weedy Spring Smoothie!
Chickweed and Cleavers are the superstars of this smoothie, growing abundantly and beautifully at this time of year. Both are well known blood cleansers - supporting the lymphatic system and the liver, aiding in detoxification and banning the sluggishness that comes on the tail of winter. Chickweed (Stellaria Media) is very high in a number of vitamins, including C, B, and A, and has anti-inflammatory and diuretic (kidney cleansing) properties. Cleavers (Gallium Aperine) has similary properties - it flushes the lymph and kidneys. It's no wonder that these magical plants arrive at just this very time in the season!
Rather than using a dairy or even nut milk base for my smoothie, I opted for a strong herbal infusion. I was glad I did! Today's choice was a PMS guardian against grouch and exhaustion: Red Clover, Red Raspberry leaf, Passion Flower, and Oatstraw. Red Clover is also known to clean the blood, as well as balance hormones. Raspberry leaf is super high in vitamins and minerals, and a tonic for the reproductive system. Passion Flower and Oatstraw are in there for nourishing and calming my nervous system, on a day when I'd rather snuggle with my cat by the river than venture in to work...
So all in all, this smoothie couldn't have been a more energizing, satisfying way to start my day!
Our friend Dandelion didn't make this smoothie, as I was craving a sour, not bitter, drink. Luckily, the sour flavor is known to move stagnation. So sorrel and lemon made the cut for this energizing breakfast tonic... and Dandelion found her way into my lunch :)
Noticing and using what earth provides through the seasons is a beautiful way of connecting with yourself and the natural cycles, slowing down and nourishing yourself. I hope you are inspired to visit with and get to know your "weedy" neighbors. Let me know what you find!