Let’s talk waste: plants to the rescue

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When it comes to skin ailments, all you have to do is step into your garden to find the unwrapped cure for your ailments.

The flurry of summer activity can make visits to the store more sporadic. When it comes to skin ailments, all you have to do is step into your garden to find the unwrapped cure for your ailments.

This is the time of year when pollinators are in abundance and some might be of the prickly variety. In the cracks along your sidewalk, you can often find great itch relief. Plantain is found in abundance once you have the eyes to see it. In a pinch, you can crush a few leaves with your teeth and place them directly on an insect bite to help eliminate the itch factor.

People seem to have a love-hate relationship with the ubiquitous dandelion. Fighting it on a lawn requires a lot of energy and herbicides that upset the balance of nature. Besides being great additions to a garden compost bin or adding the unpulverized leaves to a garden salad, dandelion sap has been used for centuries to treat warts and lighten age spots.

Perhaps surprisingly, mint is more than a refreshing tea. It also has anti-inflammatory properties that lend themselves to soothing acne breakouts and even scars. Some herb lovers grind the leaves, add a little water and lemon and apply the mixture on the skin for 15 minutes before rinsing with cold water.

Comfrey sinks its roots deep, bringing to the surface a host of much harder-to-reach nutrients. Herbalists have long practiced the external application of comfrey to a sprain and even to a properly fixed broken bone.

Powerfully able to replenish the body, comfrey is generally safe to use, but as with all herbs, we must do our research to discover any contraindications for use. While there are comfrey salves, ointments, and creams, a simple poultice applied directly to the skin is a good place to start experiencing the power of this herb.

Hot weather and salt water can damage your locks, but we need look no further than our herb garden for restocking. Rosemary is in many hair care products for good reason. Shiny hair, dandruff prevention and hair growth are just some of the benefits of applying a rosemary rinse or oil infusion to the scalp.

If you’ve ever planted lemon balm, you probably have plenty of it that you may not know how to use. Often enjoyed as a soothing tea, cold sore sufferers may also experience relief using this herb. Apply cotton balls soaked in cooled lemon balm tea to soothe.

To learn more about how to harvest and treat nature’s medicine cabinet, contact local herbalists, naturopaths, and Ayurvedic practitioners.

Creating basic infusions, extractions, salves, and lotions can be easier than you first imagine. When time doesn’t allow you to make them yourself, health food stores often have a good selection to choose from, as well as knowledgeable staff to guide you.

There’s a deep satisfaction in being able to manage your family’s basic health issues with little to no packaging, locally sourced herbs, and no chemicals. How spectacular but unsurprising that what afflicts us can often be treated by plants in our garden.

Let’s Talk Trash is Qathet Regional District’s waste reduction education program. For more information, email [email protected] or go to LetsTalkTrash.ca.

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