Spring has finally arrived after what seems like a very long winter hibernation. Our bodies may feel sluggish and tired after a winter of eating heavy, rich, comfort foods. Now is the time to feed our bodies and souls, to awaken and quicken our senses.
We do this with spring tonics, blood and liver purifying herbs, which flush out toxins and restart our metabolism. These are the first greens that appear each Spring, giving our bodies a nutritional kick start for the new season.
Herbs For Spring Tonics
These are common wild plants you have seen before but might not have known about their abilities to enhance the digestive and elimination functions in your body.
These plants can be eaten fresh in soups and salads, steamed or dried for later use through out the year for teas, infusions or tinctures. I’ll dry nettles so I can make nettle infusions to drink year round and dry dandelion roots and burdock root for digestive bitters.
When we eat spring greens and drink spring tonics, we are supporting and nurturing our bodies natural detoxification abilities.
If you don’t want to forage for the plants, you can buy them online as dried herbs or powdered herbs. Whole herbs have a much longer shelf life than powdered herbs.
Here are a few of the herbs you can utilize for spring tonics and food:
Plantain (Plantago spp.) leaves are high in fiber and a good source of vitamins A, C, K, and magnesium. This plant purifies the blood, supports the liver and gallbladder, promotes bladder, urinary tract, and digestive health.
Nettles (Urtica dioica) gently cleanses the body of toxins. As a diuretic, it ensures the toxins being neutralized in the body are eliminated quickly. It stimulates the lymphatic system, helping rid the body of excess toxins in the kidneys. This plant is a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals, truly a food for your entire system.
Cleavers (Galium aparine) has a mild taste, it makes a great addition to smoothies, salads, soups and rice dishes. Drink as a tonic to gradually restore the proper function of the lymphatic system and increase health and vitality.
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) are highly nutritious plants and everything from roots to flowers is full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Dandelion greens are eaten cooked or raw and are an excellent source of vitamins A, C and K. They also contain vitamin E, folate and small amounts of B vitamins. Dandelion gently and safely enhances digestive and elimination function.
Violet (Viola spp.) leaves and flowers are loaded with minerals and vitamins, especially vitamins A and C. Violets help your body restore optimal functioning by aiding metabolic processes, especially the elimination of waste products. It is cooling and moistening and used internally as a blood cleanser and lymphatic stimulant.
Burdock root (Arctium lappa) is a liver cleansing herb and a blood purifier. The root repairs cells and helps with skin conditions including eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis.
I highly recommend getting a copy of Peterson’s Edible Wild Plants this guide has pictures and great descriptions of the plants. I personally take this guide with me when I’m out in the field. You always want to make sure you are harvesting the right plants, as there are copycat plants, that to the novice look like what you want. But the copycat plants can be poisonous. Another excellent book is Edible Wild Plants: A North American Field Guide to Over 200 Natural Foods
Spring tonics offer our bodies the nutrition we’re lacking after a long winter and give us more energy, remove sluggishness, and support our organs of elimination. The naturally bitter tasting tonics support our liver, gall bladder, kidneys, and lymph. This helps with detoxification and supporting our immune system.
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