5 Healthy ‘Weeds’ Worth Saving for Natural Medicine

Natural Society – by Julie Fidler

While some people are sad about summer’s close – no more days spent poolside, shorter days and fewer and fewer fresh produce at roadside farm stands – others are just glad they won’t have to yank weeds out of the garden anymore. But what we should know for next time is that not all weeds are bad; in fact, some are quite healthy and can be beneficial.  

Many of the annoyances that people rip out and spray are actually quite good for you. A lot of weeds can be eaten, crushed, or dried and used as medicines that are free, generally safe, and abundant.

So before the weather turns cold and you slip on your gardening gloves one last time to salvage what’s left of your plants, consider adding a few of these 5 (sometimes ugly) weeds to your natural medicine chest.

1. Chickweed


One of the not-so-ugly weeds worth pulling and keeping is chickweed. Identified by purple stems, fuzzy green leaves, and starry white flower petals, this weed is a fantastic source of vitamins A, D, B complex, and C. It also contains minerals like iron, zinc, calcium, and potassium. Chickweed (Stellaria media) has a cornsilk-like flavor when eaten raw, and tastes similar to spinach when it is cooked. [1]

Chickweed nourishes the lymph and glandular systems, and can heal cysts, fevers, and inflammation. It can help neutralize acid and help with yeast overgrowth and fatty deposits, too.

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Additionally, chickweed can be finely chopped and applied externally to irritated skin. Steep the plant in ¼ cup of boiling water for 15 minutes, and chickweed provides benefits similar to dandelion root. Speaking of dandelion…

2. Dandelion


What’s more beautiful than a field full of dandelions? How about a salad mixed with some of the golden flowers? Yeah – there are numerous dandelion benefits you probably didn’t even know about.

High in vitamins A, C, folate, and calcium, dandelion leaves can be sautéed as a vegetable or added to a salad, along with the flowers.

By allowing dandelions to grow until they become quite large, the large roots can be harvested and turned dried into a medicinal supplement that acts as a powerful diuretic and kidney and liver cleanser.

FYI, dandelions contain more beta-carotene than carrots. Though I’m sure you could eat more carrots. [2]

3. Stinging Nettle


Don’t grab a stinging nettle without a thick pair of gardening gloves on. These plants are covered in needle-like hairs that contain a number of painful chemicals. Soaking and cooking this weed, however, renders those needle-like hairs harmless.

In dried leaf, tincture or tea form, stinging nettle can be used to help treat anemia, internal bleeding, eczema, bladder infections, prostate enlargement, and bronchitis. Some people actually apply freshly-picked stinging nettle (painful little barbs and all) to their joints to relieve the pain of arthritis. Some scientists believe the plant has the power to reduce levels of inflammatory chemicals in the body that cause pain.

Stinging nettle is also a potent and chemical-free liquid fertilizer for the garden.

Check out 29 nettle tea benefits here, too!

4. Plantain


Plaintain, also known as White Man’s Foot, is an unsightly weed that can be found growing in the cracks of sidewalks or at the edge of garden beds. This weed – not to be confused with the banana-like plant of the same name – produces seeds and seed husks that are used as the main ingredient in psyllium laxatives.

This plant contains a slippery substance called mucilage that is known for soothing sore throats and inflammation in the digestive tract. It also contains antibacterial properties that heal as they soothe.

Suffering from a cold or flu? Add a tablespoon of fresh or dry plantain seed heads and leaves to a cup of boiling water, steep for 10 minutes, strain and drink several times a day.

5. Cattail


Yes, those giant reed-like things you see growing in swamps and near other bodies of water are good for you. Also known as bulrush, reedmace, raupo, or corn dog grass, these plants have been eaten by Europeans for centuries.

Every part of the cattail can be eaten. You can even find cattail flour in some health food stores in some parts of the world.

The jelly-like substance found between the leaves of the cattail plant can be used as an antiseptic on wounds and other areas of the body affected by foreign agents, pathogens, or microbes. It also serves as an analgesic that can be digested or applied topically to soothe pain and relieve inflammation.

Cattail has also been shown to slow bleeding, thanks to an abundance of coagulant properties, which can help people who have been wounded, and women with heavy menstrual bleeding.

It is also useful on the skin, as it can heal boils, sores, soothe bug bites and reduce the appearance of scars.

Perhaps most excitingly, cattail has been found in studies to prevent cancer. [4]


[1] Ecosalon

[2] Care2

[3] Buzzfeed

[4] Organic Facts

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