Thursday, January 31, 2019

The Lymphatic System

     It seems like everyone is talking about detoxing. Whether it's detoxing their lives by getting rid of negativity, or detoxing their diets, “detox” is definitely one of the big words in health today. With all this focus on detoxing, I figured that I'd talk to you guys about one of our body's natural detoxifying systems, the Lymphatic System.

What is the Lymphatic System?

     The Lymphatic System is part of the immune system, and has quite a few similarities to the circulatory system. It consists of vessels and nodes that run throughout your whole body, carrying fluids from tissues around the body to the blood and from the blood to the different tissues. It cleanses almost every tissue in the body by removing toxins, metabolic waste, and more. This system also moves white blood cells to tissues that need them, as well as generating and storing them, and balances the fluid levels of the whole body.

Lymphatic Vessels carry lymphatic fluid (lymph) through the body using a series of valves that control and direct the flow of the lymph. This system works, very much, in the same way as the circulatory system, except it does not have a pump (the heart) so we need to manually move the lymph through movement, diet, and massage.

Lymph Nodes are the lymphatic filtration system. They are found throughout the body (armpits, throat, chest, abdomen, groin, etc) and are generally found in groups, or chains, in fatty tissues close to veins and arteries. These Nodes are where the body fights infection causing substances, such as viruses or bacteria, as well as cancer cells. The Nodes house white blood cells, so when infection is forced into a Node, the blood cells are there to destroy it before it can cause further damage. Lymph Nodes tend to swell when you are ill, because more white blood cells are generated and sent to specific Nodes to fight off your infection.

The Tonsils, Adenoids, Appendix, and Peyer's Patches are all lymphatic tissue charged with protecting the body from infection. Tonsils filter out bacteria before it hits your gut, helping to reduce the occurrence of food born illness. Adenoids do the same for your lungs. The Appendix and Peyer's Patches help filter out bacteria in the gut.

The Spleen, Thymus, and Bone Marrow are where our bodies create and direct white blood cells. The Spleen and Thymus also filter dead blood cells and detect infections.

What Are Some Signs that it's Not Healthy?

     Just like any bodily system, the Lymphatic system can become stressed, congested, and in some cases even blocked. When this happens we can see signs like fatigue, pain, and even reoccurring illness. Here are a few things to look out for.

  • Swelling
  • Inflammation, especially in places with concentrations of Lymph Nodes
  • Fatigue
  • Infection, or Frequent Infections
  • Joint Pains
  • Muscle Aches and Pains
  • Constipation
  • Congestion
  • Sore Throat
  • Brain Fog
  • Weight Gain
  • Obesity
  • Skin Issues
  • Cancer

What Can You Do to Keep it Healthy?

     When you ignore the health of your Lymphatic System, your immunity suffers. So what can you do to keep it at optimal health?

Actively Reduce Stress- Stress puts your whole body into a funk and releases hormones into your system that need to be filtered out. Reducing the output of those hormones will help your Lymphatic System be better able to filter all of those toxins out of your system. Check out some stress reducing tips to add to your daily routine.

Deep Breathing- It's amazing how often we can forget to do the basic things in life. Deep breathing is one of those things that seems so simple, yet helps in so many ways. Not only does breathing deeply help us to reduce stress, it also acts as a pump for our lymph. Check out these three deep breathing exercises and try to incorporate them into your daily routine. You should see some great results in no time!

Exercise and/or Mindful Movement- The most obvious way to move your lymphatic fluid is, simply, to move. Exercise plays a very important role in our health, and especially in the health of our Lymphatic System.  Some great forms of exercise to help improve your Lymphatic System include rebounding and high-intensity interval training (HIT). Now you don't have to keep up the most vigorous of exercises in order to help move your lymph, something as simple as mindful movement can be enough. Yoga and Tai Chi both incorporate mindful movement into their exercises, but you do not have to practice either one in order to practice mindful movement. Mindful movement is moving with more intention and awareness. Check out these tips for adding mindful  movement into your life.

Perspiration- Sweating is one of the major ways our bodies rid themselves of waste. So it easily follows that perspiring more/more often can help with all of the detoxification systems, including the Lymphatic System. Not all exercise causes us to sweat and there are a number of people who cannot participate in those exercises that do cause perspiration, but that's ok because there are other ways to trigger sweating. Saunas and infrared saunas help to increase our perspiration as well as provide a non-invasive way to circulate toxins out of our organs and muscles, so that they can be released from our system through our pores.

Be Mindful of What You Put On Your Skin- The Lymphatic System often releases toxins from the skin when it becomes sluggish. This release is often blocked when we wear synthetic fibers (nylon, polyester, etc) or when we apply chemical-laden creams or soaps. Most of the toxins that were supposed to be released, are then re-absorbed along with additional toxins from whatever we have applied to our skin. This is why it's so important to wear natural fibers and only apply natural, organic creams and soaps. The basic rule of thumb, in regards to skin care products, is that if you can't eat it, don't apply it. There are a few examples (essential oils and some herbal products) but this is a great rule to follow when looking for your next product, and don't forget about laundry products and deodorant.

A special note for the ladies out there: Tight fitting bras and underwires impede normal lymph flow as well. Make sure your bras fit properly, avoid underwires, and go braless whenever you can. Don't forget that our breast tissue is made up of both mammary glands and lymphatic tissue. Take care of your ta-tas and they will take care of you.

Diet- Diet is a key factor in a number of health related issues. I'm sure that what I list here is going to come as no major surprise, but keep an open mind about just how much you see these same tips and think about how much your life may be impacted by poor dietary choices.

  • Choose healthy proteins- organic and grassfed meats contain fewer toxins than regular meat
  • Buy organic produce whenever possible- organic and local produce are going to have fewer toxins, but if you throw in eating seasonally available produce you get a whole new boost of benefits as well
  • Eat the rainbow- each color you consume is associated with a specific nutrient, eating as many colors as possible helps you to get as many nutrients as possible
  • Cranberries- cranberries help to break down fat so that the Lymphatic System can get rid of it, they also help the kidneys
  • Leafy greens- greens (kale, spinach, dandelion, wheat grass, etc) are super cleansing to the whole body, but also have special benefits for both the cardiovascular system and the Lymphatic System
  • Garlic- garlic boosts the immune system and helps get rid of harmful microbes, so that you Lymphatic System doesn't have to
  • Ginger and Turmeric- these kissing cousins are both super anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and help to improve cardiovascular and Lymphatic health 

Stay Hydrated- Water water everywhere. Hydration is super important for any and every bodily function. Drinking water throughout the day is one of the best ways to stay healthy, especially when you're talking about the health of the Lymphatic System. Lymph is composed of a large amount of water and helps to keep the balance of the water in the body's tissues. Keeping hydrated is key to helping keep that balance. If you're not sure where to start, try this technique for a simply lymphatic cleanse using water.

Herbs and Essential Oils- There are quite a number of herbs that help keep the Lymphatic System healthy. Taking them as daily supplements, teas, or diffusing their essential oils can be great ways to boost your lymphatic health.

  • Essential oils such as grapefruit, lemon, orange, bay laurel, clove, rosemary, peppermint, ginger root, and oregano are great to diffuse as well as to add to a bit of massage oil for self massage.
  • Cleavers (Galium aparine) is a great herb to help enhance the function of the Lymphatic System. It improves the body's ability to flush out toxins, decreases lymphatic congestion, and reduces inflammation.
  • Burdock (Arctium lappa) is a multi-system detoxifier. It supports the liver, kidneys, digestion, and lymphatic systems as well as purifying the blood and lymph.
  • Purple Coneflower (Echinacea augustifolia) has gained quite the well deserved reputation for being a great immune herb. However when you combine it with Astragalus, it also has the added benefit of reducing swelling and congestion in the lymphatic system.
  • Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) on it's own is a great, over-all, health booster. However, when combined with Echinacea, it's a great way to reduce swelling and congestion in the lymphatic system.
  • Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) is one of the most gentile and effective detoxifying herbs known. It's said to remove over 1,000 known toxins from the body. 

Massage, Chiropractic, and Acupuncture- Alternative therapies can help to increase the health of all your bodily systems. The Lymphatic System is no exception. Lymphatic massage is especially helpful because it's designed, specifically, to get your lymph flowing. But chiropractic and acupuncture can help get things moving as well. Ask your practitioner today!

Dry Brushing- This is one of my favorite ways to move lymphatic fluid in the morning. Seriously. I dry brush every day when I get up in the morning. Generally right before my shower (dry brushing also exfoliates the skin so washing off all the dead skin left over is a major plus). If you've never heard of the technique before, here's a great introduction to what dry brushing is, and how to do it!

     I hope this has encouraged you to be more mindful of your Lymphatic System.  Please seek out other tips and feel free to share.  Do you have any questions or comments?  Post them below!


10 Ways to Improve Your Lymphatic System Function: The Truth About Cancer:

How to Detoxify and Heal the Lymphatic System: Organic Lifestyle:

The Lymph System: How Stuff Works:

Lymphatic System: Better Health:

The Lymphatic System, How to Make it Strong & Effective: Dr. Axe:

The Lymphatic System and Your Health: Women's Health Network:

Natural Ways to Activate the Lymphatic System to Boost Immunity: Wellness Mama:

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Wildcrafted Soups

     Guess what, it's Winter in Florida! Those few days a year where it's actually chilly. This means that the soup is on!

     I love soup and this time of year is great for harvesting a number of our local edibles. So I figured I'd share some of my favorite wild edible soups with you guys today. As usual, these recipes are vegetarian and vegan friendly as well as gluten free. If you want to add in some meat or dairy, be my guest and let me know what you think in the comments!

     Just be very careful when harvesting your wild edibles.  A few good rules to remember is to harvest only 100 feet (or more) from roadways to avoid contamination from road run-off.  Make sure to harvest only in areas that are not treated with herbicides and/or pesticides.  Also be careful to not harvest from waste areas (many of these plants have a tendency to take in the harmful chemicals and minerals from these areas).  Make sure that you thoroughly wash these plants before using them to avoid bacterial contamination, this is also important if you are harvesting plants that grow shorter than a dog's leg.  I also follow the Native American harvesting tradition of only harvesting ¼ of the plants you encounter.  You leave ¼ for the animals to eat, ¼ for the next wildcrafter/forager who comes along, and ¼ to grow and continue the population.  And the most important rule of all, be 100% sure of what you are harvesting.  If you are 99.99% sure, do not harvest.  There are a great number of look-alikes that can be toxic, so please please be sure of your plant before consuming it.

The Soups On!:

Wild Herbs and Rice Soup
(6 Servings)

4 tablespoons Olive Oil
½ medium Onion, chopped
1 large rib of Celery, chopped
2 Garlic Cloves, smashed and chopped
3 cups Vegetable Broth (or bone broth)
2 cups Water
2/3 cup uncooked Wild Rice (or a blend), rinsed and drained
1 cup Almond Milk (or milk/substitute of your choice)
½ teaspoon Black Pepper
½ teaspoon dried Thyme
¼ teaspoon Salt
2 cups Wild Herbs, chopped

In a large pot, on medium-high heat, add in the olive oil. Give it a minute to warm up then add the onion, celery, and garlic. Cook until everything is just softened (about 10 minutes). Stir in the vegetable broth, water, and rice. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and allow the rice to cook as long as the package recommends (wild rice usually takes about 45 min or more), but don't drain it when done. Stir in the remaining ingredients, cover and allow to simmer for an additional 20 minutes. Check your seasoning, add more if needed. Serve warm!

“Cream” of Wild Greens Soup
(6 Servings)

4 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 medium Onion, diced
1 clove Garlic, smashed and diced
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon Gluten Free Flour
4 cups Vegetable Stock
2 pounds Wild Greens
½ cup Silken Tofu (about 8 oz)
Salt and White Pepper to taste

In a medium sauce pan, over medium heat, combine olive oil, onion, and garlic. Cook until the onion is transparent (about 5 minutes). Add in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for about 1 more minute (the flour should not take on any color). Slowly drizzle in stock, whisking constantly to avoid clumps. Once all the stock is incorporated, bring mixture to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes, whisking occasionally.

Meanwhile, in a large pot on high heat, bring a good amount of water to a boil. Sprinkle in a few tablespoons of salt. Prepare an ice water bath in a large mixing bowl (this will help keep the greens looking bright and vibrant). Blanch your wild greens by submerging them in the salted, boiling water for about 30 seconds. Remove from the boiling water and submerge them in the ice bath until ready to blend.

Squeeze all the liquid out of your greens as you put them in the blender, a little bit at a time, with the sauce you've had simmering. I usually do this in about 2 batches. Blend the mixtures together. Once these are blended, add in a bit of the tofu, with a little salt and white pepper, and continue to blend until smooth. Once blended, pour through a sieve into a clean pot. Warm it up to just under boiling (if you boil it the color will get all muddy) and serve warm!

Potato, Betony, and Leek Soup
(6 Servings)

3 tablespoons Olive Oil
4 large Leeks, white and light green parts only, roughly chopped
3 cloves Garlic, smashed
1 pound Potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped into ½ inch pieces
1 pound Florida Betony tubers, cleaned and chopped
7 cups Vegetable Broth
1 cup Wild Greens, chopped well
1 teaspoon Salt
¼ teaspoon Black Pepper

In a large saucepan, on medium-high heat, combine first 5 ingredients. Sautee until they are nice and tender. Add in the vegetable broth and simmer for about 20 minutes. Puree the mixture using an immersion blender, or puree in batches with a food processor. Put back on the heat and add in the remaining ingredients. Cook for an additional 20 minutes. Serve warm!

Cauliflower and Kudzu Soup
(6 Servings)

1 head Cauliflower
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 small Onion, diced
1 clove Garlic, smashed
1 pound Kudzu Root, washed and diced
4 cups Vegetable Stock
2 cups Water
1 cup Almond Milk (or milk/substitute of choice)
2 cups Wild Herbs or Spinach, shredded
1 ½ cups Kudzu Leaves, shredded
Salt and Pepper to taste

Prepare the head of cauliflower, cutting it into florets and dicing up the stalk. In a large pot, on medium-high heat, sautee the onion and garlic in olive oil until just transparent. Add in cauliflower and kudzu root. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add in stock and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, covered, for about 20 minutes. Puree mixture with an immersion blender, or blend in batches in a food processor. Stir in remaining ingredients and simmer for an additional 20 minutes. Serve warm!

Quinoa, Lentil, and Mushroom Soup
(6 Servings)

2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 large Onion, chopped
2 Carrots, peeled and chopped
2 Celery Ribs, chopped (feel free to throw in the greens too)
3 Garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
8 oz Mushrooms (crimini are a good choice, but you can use any mushroom really), chopped
4 cups Vegetable Stock
2 cups Water
¾ cup dried Lentils
2 cups Wild Herbs, chopped
½ cup Quinoa, toasted
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a large stock pot, on medium-high heat, combine olive oil, onion, celery, and carrot. Cook until onion is just translucent. Add in the garlic and mushrooms and cook for about 5 more minutes. Pour in the vegetable broth, water, and lentils, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for about 1 hour. Add in remaining ingredients, cover and cook for an additional 20 minutes, or until the quinoa is fully cooked. Serve warm!

Wild Plants to experiment with:  

Stinging Nettle Urtica dioica- This herb is notorious for it's sting.  If you encounter it in it's raw form you'll know exactly why.  However, once cooked or dried, nettles loose their sting and can be quite tasty, not to mention nutritious.  Nutritionally, it's a great source of vitamins A, C, and D as well as iron, calcium, and magnesium.  Medicinally, nettles are used to treat hay fever and similar allergies throughout the world.  Because of the sting, this is one green you definitely want to blanch or dry before using in recipes.

Spanish Needle Bidens Alba- Spanish Needle is one of the most under-appreciated plants in North America.  It's also one of the most prolific.  Everywhere you look, especially here in Central Florida, you can find it.  The young leaves and flowers are edible, but the whole plant is used medicinally.  For most recipes, you really want to blanch the leaves first, but this step is not necessary when using them in a soup.  Nutritionally, bidens leaves are very similar to spinach and packed with lots of vitamins and minerals.  Medicinally, they are very useful for upper respiratory conditions. 

Purslane Portulaca oleracea- One of the most nutritionally jam packed green on earth, Purslane contains more omega 3 fatty acids than any other plant known.  It's also full of vitamins A, B, C, and E, beta carotene, magnesium, calcium, folate, lithium, iron, and protein.  You can use the leaves and stems for any of the above recipes.  It's also a powerhouse of medicinal benefits. 

Red Clover Trifolium pratense- As a member of the legume (bean) family, Red Clover leaves have a slight bean flavor.  The flowers are even more tasty and are supposedly the most tasty of any of the clover flowers.  Nutritionally, red clover is full of nutrients including vitamins A, B, and C, zinc, calcium, magnesium, manganese, and potassium.  Medicinally, red clover is one of the best herbs for women as it helps to balance the female hormones.  It's also a great aid in helping to prevent cancers of all types. 

Peppergrass Lepidium virginicum- Peppergrass is very prolific here in Central Florida, and quite peppery in taste, almost like a very mild horseradish.  The seeds can be used to flavor foods like pepper, the root can be used similarly to horseradish, but the leaves are delicious raw.  Nutritionally, the leaves are a good source of vitamins A and C.  Medicinally, this plant is great for the kidneys and has been used, traditionally, to treat asthma.  This is one of the few plants that actually have no known dangerous look-alikes. 

Chickweed Stellaria media- Usually one of the earliest spring greens that show up in the eastern portion of the United States, Chickweed is a great choice for a pot herb.  Nutritionally, it's full of calcium, magnesium, potassium, and quite a few other nutrients.  Medicinally, this is one of the most amazing little herbs for your lymphatic system.  You can use the leaves, flowers, and stems in these recipes. 

Drymary Drymaria cordata- This Chickweed look-alike does not taste like it's cousin. Chickweed has a mild corn flavor. Drymary's leaves and young shoots are edible and can be quite tasty if prepared as a pot herb. There is some question about toxicity in large quantities, so parboil it and discard the water before you use it in these recipes, just to be on the safe side.

Dollarweed Hydrocotyle bonariensis- Also known as Pennywort, Dollarweed tastes like carrot tops, or a bit like celery.  It's a common weed in Florida that drives most lawn-owners crazy.  Not only does it like lawns, but it also really loves to get it's feet wet, which means that you'll find it at the edges of rivers, streams, and lakes.  You can also find it marshy areas.  You can eat it raw, but you can also pickle/ferment it to  make a “kraut” similar to sauerkraut.  Dollarweed is often confused for Gotu Kola, which is a close cousin and has similar medicinal and nutritional benefits.  Nutritionally, dollarweed is a decent source of minerals as well as B vitamins.  Medicinally they are great for lowering blood pressure.  Use only the leaves for these recipes.

Gotu Kola Centella asiatica- Gotu Kola is quite a bit more bitter than it's cousin Dollarweed. But it's also packed full of more benefits as a result. A few Asian cultures believe that if you eat one of these leaves a day, you will live forever. While they may not contain the secret of immortality, they are amazingly beneficial for almost every age-related issue. You can consume the leaves raw or cooked, though I do recommend using them sparingly because of the bitterness.

Pine Pinus spp.- The needles and nuts from pine trees can be a great addition to quite a few recipes. While the needles have a distinct flavor and may not lend themselves to a lot of recipes, pine nuts are amazingly mild and can be quite pleasantly added to just about everything. Also, pine needles tend to be sharp and wiry, so if you're going to use them in these recipes, you might want to cook them and then discard the needles  before you serve the food. Pine needles are loaded down with vitamin C and many other helpful vitamins and minerals. I like to include them in soups during cold and flu season, or when I start feeling a bit under the weather.

Kudzu Pueraria lobata- Introduced in the 1800's to provide additional foraging for livestock as well as to for erosion control, Kudzu has taken over in many areas of the US. However it's a great plant to eat and it has a number of medicinal benefits. Kudzu leaves, flowers, blossoms, vine tips and roots are edible. This plant produces fragrant blossoms which you can make into jelly, syrup and candy. You can cook the root, which contains starch and can be used as a coating in deep fried foods, or for thickening soups and sauces. Flowers can be tossed on a salad, cooked or pickled. Stems and young leaves can be consumed raw or cooked. This pesky vine is a staple food in both Japan and China. It's packed full of antioxidants, helps calm down an upset stomach, and may even help treat alcoholism. Throw a couple blossoms or leaves in any soup recipe above, or add in some of the root like you would potatoes.

Wild Grape Vitis riparia- Wild Grape, Fox Grape (Vitis labrusca), and a number of other grapes found out in the wild, are both edible and medicinal. The leaves are what I commonly eat, and they taste grape-like, unlike the toxic look-a-likes that can be found in some areas. You can eat the grapes themselves, but many of our native vines don't produce them on a regular basis and they tend to be quite small. You can eat the fruit and leaves raw as well as cooked. One of my favorite preparations is the Middle Eastern or Greek Dolmas (or stuffed grape leaves), but I have also been known to scoop up some hummus in the raw leaves from time to time. Medicinally speaking, grape leaves are amazingly astringent and anti-inflammatory. They help prevent and treat diarrhea, heavy menstrual bleeding, uterine hemorrhage, hepatitis, stomach aches, rheumatism, and edema.

Nasturtium Tropaeolum spp.- This herb may not be native to Florida, and may not be found in the wild, but my mother got me addicted to growing these tasty treats as a young girl.  She used the excuse that for every flower I picked, two more would bloom, but I think it had more to do with the fact that we both loved to eat them in our salads.  The whole plant is edible, and nasturtium flowers are one of the most recognizable, edible flowers on the market in America.  The whole plant tastes peppery and you can use the flowers and leaves fairly interchangeably, but you can also pickle the seeds to add a little pop to your salads.  There is only one warning associated with eating this plant, and it's a common one.  Nasturtiums contain oxalic acid which can cause health issues when consumed in abundance.  For that to happen, you'd need to eat several pounds of the leaves in one sitting, but the warning is there none-the-less.  Nutritionally, nasturtium leaves and flowers are packed full of vitamin C and iron.  Medicinally, nasturtium leaves are antibiotic, and this property is strongest just before the plant blooms.  I use both the flowers and leaves for these recipes. 

Watercress Nasturtium officinale- Watercress is a green that has been eaten by humans for our entire history, and one of the oldest to be cultivated.  You can still find it in quite a few grocery stores today.  Nutritionally, it is loaded with vitamins A and C, and contains significant amounts of iron, calcium, and folic acid.  Medicinally it is loaded down with benefits as well.  The vikings considered it THE food to eat in the spring because it helped to flush the body of all the built up chemicals that come from existing solely on meat throughout the harsh winters.  Just avoid eating too much of this tasty green during pregnancy. 

Florida Betony Stachys floridana- Locally, this is often seen as a horrible weed, only to be eradicated in most lawns and gardens. However, I love them. This is one of the herbs that I harvest most for both medicinal uses and food. Now, most people think the leaves taste a bit much like medicine, but a few of them in the pot can add quite a few medicinal benefits. However, the tastiest part is the root, well really the tuber. They look like fat white worms or grubs. But they're crunchy and taste like a mild radish. I love to pickle them, cook them with a little olive oil, or even eat them raw. They make a great addition to any of the above recipes, just clean them, chop them, and add them in like you would a potato.

Wood Sorrel Oxalis spp.- This is a plant that can be found everywhere in the world, except at the North and South poles.  There are around 850 different species and they are all edible.  Oxalis leaves taste a little sour, reminiscent of a very, very mild rhubarb.  You can eat every part of this plant, but I do need to caution you about over-eating it.  Oxalis contains oxalic acid which can cause health issues when consumed in abundance.  For that to happen, you'd need to eat several pounds of the leaves in one sitting, but the warning is there none-the-less.  Nutritionally, oxalis is high in vitamin C, iron, and zinc.  Medicinally it's great for reducing fever, increasing appetite, and it happens to be a diuretic.  For these recipes, I use the leaves, but the tubers are eaten all throughout Eastern Europe and South America.
     I hope you enjoy making (and eating) these soups!  If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below!

For more information on weeds and herbs that you can eat, check out these awesome websites!

Eat The Weeds!:
Edible Wild Food:
Wild Edible:

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Tropical Chickweed or Drymary

     Living in Central Florida, I don't see much of certain plants that are staples in traditional diets. One plant in particular, Chickweed, I've always read about, but never actually had a chance to see. One day, I noticed a plant that looked a lot like the typical description of Chickweed that I'd read about for years. Vaguely heart shaped, opposite, leaves. Ground cover with tiny white flowers. It even has an elastic inner core. However, it was not fuzzy and the leaves were a bit bigger than I was lead to believe. A few years later, I was taking a class and the teacher pointed to this exact plant and called it Drymary, or Tropical Chickweed. Eureka! It may not have been a true Chickweed, but it was a very close cousin. So close, in fact, that traditional medical systems across the world use them in many of the same ways. Since then, I have seen Chickweed (though here it's season is much, much shorter than in cooler climates), but I also have gained a great amount of respect for Drymary.

Medicinal Uses:

Scientific Name- Drymaria cordata, Drymaria diandra

Common Names- Tropical Chickweed, Drymary, Heartleaf Drymary, Whitesnow, West Indian Chickweed

Parts Used- The juice as well as the whole plant

Parts Eaten- Tender young leaves and shoots are eaten raw or cooked. The leaves, at any age, can be eaten raw in a salad or cooked as a pot herb.

Summary of Actions-  Appetizer, depurative, emollient, antidote, cooling, febrifuge, laxative, mild analgesic, and stimulant.

Upper Respiratory-  Many cultures around the world use this herb in various upper respiratory ailments. Smoking the dried leaves is said to help treat bronchitis. Drinking the juice or a tea made from the leaves is said to help with asthma, bronchitis, colds, and upper respiratory infections.

Snake Bites-   In China, the leaves are crushed and placed on top of a snake bite to help counter any venom that may be present.

Burns-  Drymary is both cooling and slightly pain relieving. This makes it great to help cool off burns.

Wound Care, Eczema, and Psoriasis- This herb is a good wound herb. It helps cleanse the wound, provides mild pain relief, and can help speed the body's natural healing properties. It also helps, especially in the case of eczema or psoriasis, to soothe and protect irritated skin.

Detox- One of it's main actions is as a depurative. Depurative herbs work on our body's natural detoxification system, helping to cleanse the kidneys, liver, and lymphatic system.

Malaria-  Native to the same areas of the world that are known for Malaria, Drymary is one of the standard herbs used to treat the infection. It's main use is to help reduce fever, which is one of the major concerns when dealing with Malaria.

Possible Use for HIV Treatment-  Recent studies have found that Drymary shows promise in treating HIV patients.

Contraindications and Warnings- There are toxic look-a-likes found in many of it's natural habitats. Do not use or consume this herb unless you are 100% sure of it's correct identification.

     I only included a basic introduction to Tropical Chickweed.  If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.


Analgesic and Antipyretic Activities of Drymaria Cordata (Linn.) Willd (Caryophyllaceae) Extract: African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines:

Drymaria Cordata: Useful Tropical Plants:

Drymaria Cordata Herb Uses, Benefits, Cures, Side Effects, Nutrients: Herbpathy:

Drymaria Cordata, Tropical Chickweed: Eat The Weeds:

Drymaria Cordata (Tropical Chickweed): Invasive Species Comendium:

West Indian Chickweed: Natural Medicinal Herbs:


Greetings from the Bat Lady!

     Welcome to Bat Lady Herbals.  I have been fascinated by herbs and various herbal uses for quite a few years now.  Plants are amazing t...