As I am writing this article here at my home in South-eastern Ontario, we are currently experiencing an extreme period of drought. Lawns are burning up, and gardens are taking an incredible amount of watering, day after day. Watering bans limit many areas to minimal usage; even the local golf courses are showing the signs of this prolonged dry spell.

But while our lawns and gardens continue to suffer through this rain shortage, there’s always that one plant that defies logic and continues to thrive, and we collectively refer to it as “the weed”. At a time like this, we are always faced with the question, “How is the weed able to flourish when all other vegetation struggles to survive?”

We often think of weeds as one of nature’s nuisances, much like the mosquito, and wonder whatever possible usage they may be to us. One of the excuses many people use to keep from planting a garden is, “it takes too much effort to stay ahead of the weeds”.

The term weed is generally applied to any plant that is growing where it is not wanted. So while it seems that weeds deserve their bad reputation, it may surprise you to know that a wide variety of weeds contain some of the healthiest foods known to man!

Let’s begin by taking a look at what makes the weed so resilient. In most cases, weeds grow naturally, the way nature intended, which makes them genetically stronger than all other plant life. Because weeds survive on their own, they are often in a stressed condition, despite their healthy appearance. This contributes to their strength, and farmers find that stressed weeds are frequently harder to destroy. Many weeds have extremely long roots systems, which helps fill the plant with minerals and moisture.

One weed that I am sure we are all familiar with is the dandelion, the little flower that converts our lawns from green to a bright yellow in early summer. The dandelion is actually a very rich source of vitamins A, B, C, and D, and contains the minerals iron, potassium and zinc. Here we have an example of a plant being a weed (not wanted on our lawns) that can be very beneficial for our good health. The yellow flower is edible, and can be dipped in honey or added to your blended drinks. It is also used to make dandelion wine, something my Dad did many years ago. I remember when I was a little boy, my Dad would send me out with a bucket, and for 25 cents I would come back with it full of dandelion flowers. The leaves can be added to salads or your juicer. These are one of the many greens I frequently add to my juice each morning. The dandelion has been used by Native Americans and in Chinese medicine to treat a wide assortment of illnesses, including kidney disease, heartburn, appendicitis, detoxifying the liver and so much more.

The milk thistle weed is easy to identify by the purple flower on the top of this very tall thistle. It is believed that milk thistle has a 2000 year old history of being used to treat liver problems, and herbalists continue to prescribe it to enhance the ability of the liver to regenerate and repair damaged cells. This weed is also used in alternative treatments of cancer. The purple flower can be eaten, it is suggested that you boil it first. The leaves can be eaten either raw or cooked (be sure to first remove the sharp leaf spines), and when cooked are said to make a great spinach substitute. The stems can be eaten raw or cooked. They are best when peeled and soaking is recommended to reduce the bitterness.   The milk thistle seeds can be grounded up and used as a tea, or roasted and used as a coffee substitute. And the milky-white liquid contained in this thistle can be applied to remove warts, moles and even skin cancer.

Burdock is the plant that has those little round velcro balls that stick to your clothes and your hair. It is a root vegetable that looks like a long, pale carrot. It is used as a blood purifier and a diuretic, and it supports the health of the liver, kidneys, and bladder. Burdock is listed as one of the world’s top ten healing herbs! Because of its ability to clean the blood so well, it makes for a great skin cleanser. Burdock removes acids from the blood, which makes it great for treating eczema and psoriasis. Sliced burdock can be used in most recipes wherever carrots are used.  Be sure not to peel off its nutritional skin.

Red clover doesn’t grow very tall, but its roots can go over 100 feet into the ground. This allows it to absorb all of its nutrients and to make it one of the richest plants in the world. Just like the milk thistle, both the purple-red flower and leaves can be eaten, making a great addition to salads. Tea made from the red clover flower has been used over the years as a blood purifier, and has been used in the treatments of asthma, bronchitis and respiratory spasms. You can add red clover to salads, and the flowers can be dried and turned into flour that can be used in breads, muffins and pancakes.

You should be constantly aware of the foods that make up your diet.  As you make changes from a fast-food diet to one that is closer to what our good Lord intended, you will be amazed at the energy you gain and how all of your health conditions start going away. So the next time you go for a walk in your garden, or through the woods, be aware of the foods that surround you. There is a much better chance of them not containing chemicals …. and they’re free!

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and I don’t have any medical training.  I am just an individual that researches information that other people have studied and proven to be effective, and I just pass that information on to you