Common weeds that grow wild in your yard or garden could have medicinal benefits. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) often utilizes these common plants in various forms such as roots, leaves, flowers, and fruit. Here are six common weeds and their medicinal properties:
1. Taraxicum officinale or T. mongolicum – Common Dandelion – Pu Gong Ying
The common dandelion is a perennial aster that has been used for centuries as medicine and food. The leaves, flowers, and roots are used in TCM, and the plant is listed as a Clear Toxic Heat herb. It is one of the five herbs that make the formula Wu Wei Xiao Du Yin effective. Harvest the plant before it goes to seed, and dry it on screens in the sun.
2. Cyperus rotundus – Purple nutsedge rhizome – Xiang Fu
Despite being listed as one of the world's worst weeds, purple nutsedge has medicinal properties. It is used in TCM as a qi-regulating herb that mainly focuses on liver qi stagnation. Harvest the inch-long rhizomes and dry them on screens in the sun.
3. Lonicera Japonica – Japanese Honeysuckle – Jin Yin Hua
The Japanese honeysuckle can take the heat and is drought-tolerant, making it prevalent in Texas. Harvest the flower right before it opens and dry it quickly. The flower is delicate, and you will have to work hard to get a couple of grams of dried flowers from a wild stand of L. japonica.
4. Ligustrum luciduim – Glossy Privet – Nu Zhen Zi
Glossy privet is invasive and can easily take over mid-canopy trees in established forests. Pick the fruit when it is ripe, but you may have to beat the birds to it. Dry it on a screen, and you do not need to remove the seeds from the fruit to use it in TCM. Nu Zhen Zi is used as a Yin tonic and is frequently used in formulations for menopause.
5. Mimosa Julibrissin – Persian silk tree – He Huan Hua and He Huan Pi
The Persian silk tree is invasive and has unusual and beautiful flowers. Harvest both the flower and the bark, but harvesting the flowers can be challenging. They are delicate and sticky, and they don't all flower at the same time. The flower and bark are listed in the Calm Shen category of TCM herbs for constraint due to liver qi stagnation.
6. Morus alba – White Mulberry tree
Morus alba, or white mulberry, is used in TCM for many purposes. The leaves, root bark, twigs, and fruit are all used for their medicinal properties. The species was imported from China to start a silk industry in the US, but the industry failed to compete with low wages paid in China and Japan.
In conclusion, weeds that are usually considered pests may have medicinal properties. Harvest and dry them properly, and consult a licensed practitioner of TCM for their safe use. Book an appointment today if you wish to discover how traditional Chinese medicine can assist you in your daily regimen.