Growing your own medicine is one of the best things you can do for your long-term health. Creating a go-to pharmacy to treat unexpected illness or simply improve your day-to-day wellbeing is far simpler than you might imagine.
If you’re not yet an expert gardener, but like the idea of growing medicinal trees to support your health, this video will teach you everything you need to know on the subject. While you might not relate larger plants to medicine, there are hundreds of medicinal trees all around us, which have been historically used in herbal remedies to treat a wide range of ailments.
Almost every part of a tree has some sort of medicinal property for us to take advantage of. In some cases, you might need to extract the medicine from the wood – but it’s not always this difficult! You can also find plenty of medicinal uses from tree leaves, seeds, bark and flowers.
If you’re new to the world of medical tree foraging, it’s time to learn the basics of herbal tree medicine. Stay tuned to discover the top medicinal trees and how to use them:
Cedar are fantastic at resisting rot, which contributes to their medicinal properties. Experts say that a tea made up of cedar twigs and branches can cure just about everything from scurvy to arthritis and fevers, thanks to their high Vitamin C content.
Traditionally, the cedar branches and leaves were burned as an incense, and the scent was thought to harmonise emotions and prepare a person’s state of mind for prayer. To make a cedar tea, add twigs and branches to a pan of warm water, and simmer until the water begins to turn brown. You can then use the tea to treat fevers, aches and pains, chesty colds and flu.
Elm trees have a distinctive cracked bark and deep green, asymmetrical leaves. The inner bark of the slippery elm tree is said to be soothing, containing a property called mucilage that can help treat mucous membrane issues. Elm is most commonly used to soothe the digestive tract, and you’ll find slippery elm sold in health stores as a herbal supplement (slippery elm) for a number of stomach and digestion issues.
You can take elm berries as a tea, either fresh or dried, to improve your lung health and nourish the blood. A particularly popular use of elder leaves is to add them to salves and topical creams to treat common skin conditions.
You can also make a tea out of elm bark, which is said to clear congestion and ease headaches. Finally, elm flowers can be used in a tincture to encourage sweat production and naturally lower fever.
Birch is one of the easiest trees to identify thanks to its papery bark, which gives it away in any season. Speaking of birch bark, experts have taken advantage of its antibacterial properties for years, using it to create storage containers to keep food from spoiling.
The birch tree’s inner bark is used by Native North Americans as a food source, where it’s ground into a tasty birch bark flour. Birch sap has a folk reputation for treating kidney or bladder stones, as well as soothing skin conditions and muscle aches and pains.
You can drink the sap straight, and it’s supposed to act as a refreshing and cleansing tonic to your system. Fermented birch sap also makes birch wine and country beers and spirits, if you fancy something a little more palatable.
Birch has been used for years to treat gout, kidney stones and scurvy, and is promoted as an essential nutritional supplement (birch) for newborn babies and young children. A specific component of birch sap, called betulinic acid, even has anti-tumour properties, and shows promise in its ability to fight cancer.
It’s not only apple fruit that’s good for you – you can get plenty out of the apple tree itself. The bark of the root of apple trees is used for treating fevers. It can also be used as a tonic to regulate bodily functions.
Apples themselves are, of course, more than worth adding to your diet. They’re extremely rich in important antioxidants, flavonoids, and dietary fibre, all of which we need to stay healthy and free of disease.
Apples also contain phytonutrients and antioxidants, which experts say can reduce the risk of developing cancer, hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease. Apples reduce acidity in the stomach and help to clean the liver. Some people swear by an apple cider wash, which combines garlic and horseradish with apple cider to promote clear skin.
Beech trees are large-leaf trees with a distinctive, smooth grey bark. The leaves from the beech tree are antibacterial, and historically, they were used by Native Americans for treating tuberculosis. The bark of beech tree is often used as a herbal remedy for lung problems, including tuberculosis, when added to warm water to make a tea.
Beech bark is also said to be cleansing for the blood, and makes a good wash for poison ivy. Some people use the beech tree’s antibacterial leaves as a treatment for burns. If you’re feeling adventurous with your homemade beech tree medicine, give aged beech leaf tea a try.
The hazel tree is fairly small, and is recognised by its small rounded nuts that grow in clusters of two to four. Hazelnuts themselves are full of healthy fats, and research has found them particularly useful in maintaining healthy heart and kidney function.
Aside from the nuts produced by the hazel tree, hazel bark has been used by herbalists for years to create topical salves for tumours and ulcers. The bark is thought to be particularly good at speeding up blood coagulation, helping wounds to heal more quickly.
- Stobart, Anne (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 288 Pages - 06/14/2020 (Publication Date) - Permanent Publications (Publisher)
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- Foster, Steven (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 480 Pages - 04/08/2014 (Publication Date) - Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Publisher)
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Ash is a tall tree with finely toothed, smooth edged leaves and grey to brown twigs. You’ll notice that ash trees have paddle-shaped seeds that hang in clusters until they drop off in the fall. The twigs and leaves from the ash tree can be simmered to make a laxative tea that will also benefit gout, jaundice, and joint pain.
Ash leaves are also diuretic, which is thought to help remove cellulite and promote skin suppleness. Bark from the ash tree can be taken to relive fever, constipation, fluid retention, and bladder problems. It’s also used as a tonic. You can add ash leaves to salads or use them in tea.
Maples are large trees with toothed leaves. Maple trees are most loved for their maple syrup, of course – but did you know that maple sap itself can be drunk right from the tree? Although it’s not quite as delicious as maple syrup, maple sap is refreshing and sweet, as well as offering a whole host of medicinal values.
Herbalists in Asia have traditionally drunk maple sap for years as a bone strengthening tonic, and the sap has just the right combination of minerals to do the job. Maple sap has also been shown to lower blood pressure, ease the symptoms of hangovers, reduce ulcer formation and support a healthy immune response.
Young maple leaves can be made into massage oil for soothing sore muscles.
Hawthorn is a small tree that often grows at the edge of a woodland. The berries and flowers produced by the hawthorn tree are said to have a range of cardiac benefits, and have been used for years in traditional herbal medicine to strengthen the heart and lower blood pressure. Be aware, however: if you eat too many hawthorn berries, you might cause your blood pressure to drop.
You can use hawthorn berries to make a sweet syrup that can be eaten by itself or used to top porridge and other breakfast dishes. Simply cook the berries with sugar or honey until they release their juices, then strain the actual berries out. Add a touch of alcohol to preserve the mixture, and take when needed.
Oaks are large trees with broad leaves, and are most recognisable for their acorns topped by bowl-shaped caps. Oak bark and leaves contain something called tannins, which can help disinfect wounds and strengthen blood vessels.
White oak bark tea is used for chronic diarrhea and haemorrhoids. You can also use it as a gargle for treating a sore throat, or wash it onto your skin to alleviate problems such as poison ivy, burns, cuts and scratches. White oak bark tree is simple to produce – just add one ounce of bark to one cup of water, bring to the boil, then leave to cool for drinking.
All pines trees are evergreen, with needles that grow in soft, flexible clusters. You might be more familiar with pine trees around Christmas time, but actually, they’re used year-long around the world as healing agents.
All pine trees have antiseptic properties that can be useful when making a natural wound wash. If you want to drink pine as a tea, the best tasting option is white pine. You can simmer pine needles for a tea that’s rich in vitamin C.
This tea is said to be good for sore throats, coughs, and colds. For something a little different, you can take a pine bath, which is said to ward off kidney ailments, improve circulation, and soothe sore muscles. The aroma of pine is also thought to have a calming effect on the mind.
Walnut trees are tall and feature drooping spring flowers that mature into large, round nuts – called, of course, walnuts. Walnut husks are anti-fungal and a fantastic source of a skin-healing agent called manganese. Walnut hull tea is said to increase circulation, improve digestion, and boost energy levels. You can also apply fresh walnut bark to your temples to relieve headache pain.
Walnuts themselves are incredibly good for you. Rich in a healthy fat content, walnuts are favoured by experts for their ability to support weight control, decrease inflammation, promote a healthy gut and even reduce the risk of some cancers.
So, there’s clearly value from growing your own medicinal tress, and if you’re not already taking advantage of your natural surroundings, it’s time you did! Medicinal trees can improve your short and long-term health, and offer the benefits of an over-the-counter medication at absolutely no cost.
If growing your own medicinal trees sounds like too much fuss to you, there’s no reason why you can’t make the most of the nature you’re surrounded by. Foraging for medicinal trees in your local woodlands is fine, providing the land isn’t private or a protected area of nature.
You’re more than welcome to take leaves and twigs from trees in your local area, but don’t take more than a small percentage of the whole tree. You should also avoid taking too much bark from a tree, which could open it up to disease and decay.
Using trees for medication can be greatly beneficial, and being able to identify medicinal trees and understanding how to use them is incredibly useful because they’re available year-round, unlike most popular medicinal herbs. Get creative, and have a go making your own medicines from the different parts of a tree. You’ll be surprised at how enjoyable the hobby can be.