Medicinal Greens for Spring

Medicinal Greens for Spring 

Part II

Watercress

With the help of the skin, lungs, liver, and kidneys.....the body does a great job of detoxifying and removing toxins on its own.  But perhaps watercress can offer the body a lending hand. Many different medicinal texts throughout history, including Culpeper's Herbal, state the cleansing benefits of watercress.  It is believed that Hippocrates (a Ancient Greek physician), built a hospital near a stream just because watercress was abundant.  Watercress is a mild diuretic and cholagogue, stimulating the kidneys and gallbladder to cleanse and clear impurities.  This green is such a powerhouse of nutrients, containing over 15 essential vitamins and minerals. The leaves carry high amounts of Vitamins A, C and K, as well as high amounts of iron and calcium.  

Medicinal Actions:  Stomachic, mild diuretic, mild cholagogue, antibacterial, antioxidant

The peppery taste of watercress resembles that of Arugula.  A very versatile herb in the kitchen, watercress is a great addition to salads, sandwiches, pesto, and is great juiced.  Watercress leaves add a nice depth and spice to a traditional garden salad. 

When it comes to preparing watercress to eat, keep it simple.  Raw, fresh watercress is the best way to ingest this superfood.  This way, less nutrients are lost in the process of cooking.

Dandelion

The world's most recognizable weed is a true ally to the human body.  We should be eating these leaves rather than eradicating them from our lawns.  Dandelion leaves are high in vitamins and minerals, especially potassium.  The bitter constituents within the leaves help stimulate the flow of bile, promoting healthy digestion and health of the gall bladder and liver.  Dandelion encourages steady elimination of toxins that may come from illness, poor diet, or even environmental pollution.  Consuming the leaves can be beneficial for many types of inflammation, skin conditions such as acne, eczema, psoriasis, and arthritic conditions including osteoarthritis and gout. 

Medicinal Actions: Bitter tonic, diuretic, mild laxative, antioxidant, cholagogue

The leaves can taste very bitter and tough.  So, try picking young leaves during the springtime and consuming those.  If you do purchase or pick older leaves, try boiling them in salted water for 3-4 minutes, then transfer the cooked leaves to ice water.  This will quickly end the cooking process and prevent the leaves from becoming soggy.  Save the water as a tea, or let it cool and pour it into your garden beds. With this simple preparation, the boiled and blanched leaves are ready to be added to soups, prepared as a pesto or sautéed with oil and garlic.