As an urban herbalist (an oxymoron to some, I suppose), I guess I have learned to see medicinal plants where others see only weeds. Almost every day, I walk the bike path in Somerville and am amazed at the number of medicinal plants I see there, just hanging out on their own. Pineapple Weed is effective againt tapeworm, and it covers the ground unnoticed near the community garden. Comfrey is an invaluable skin and bone healer, and it sits unobtrusively with some trees near Cedar St. Japanese Knotweed is an invasive weed sprouting up all over (and currently being eradicated), but its root is the strongest antispirochetal in treating Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. The blood-clearing effects of Red Clover, the liver and kidney properties of Dandelion… There’s Burdock, Goldenrod, Wild Carrot, Sheep Sorrel, Mugwort, Fleabane, Purslane, Juniper, Evening Primrose, Sweet Leaf, Plantain… to name just some of what grows wild there.
Of course, I’m not suggesting that we start harvesting plants on the bike path for herbal medicine – seems that the toxins present in this urban environment prohiit its use in medicinal healing – but aside from the lead content and other traffic carcinogens, arsenic, and your everyday (and I do mean every day!) dog pee, it’s just not a responsible practice.
But isn’t it kind of cool to know that they’re there? We fly past them on bikes or saunter along with an iPod plugged into our ears, oblivious. With a phone pressed against our ear and our eyes cast downward, we notice only the pavement. There are tumor-reducing plants sitting there as you pass.
Perhaps if we journey along the bike path here, we’ll learn a little more about what medicinal plants have to offer. So, let’s go. There’s actually a world of herbal medicine awaiting us along this stretch of well-travelled pavement…
Shocking, I know.