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Herbalism in Montreal: cures in your backyard? (Part 1)


Serghei Starus |




This month University of McGill held a fascinating talk on the topic of herbalism by Lana Kimm McGeary. Lana is a Montréal-based herbalist with over 20 years of experience in this field. The presentation was entitled “An introduction to herbalism using native plants of Quebec”. This article is the first piece in a series of short commentaries covering sustainable collection of herbs, common preparation methods, and the healing properties of the plants we meet every day.

Herbalism is an important part of traditional medicinal practice. It is centered around the use of plants and plant extracts. Herbalism had given rise to the modern medicine, and is extensively used as a form of alternative medicine today.

Lana’s favourite remedial plant is dandelion. It acts primarily on the liver and pancreas. Dandelions are known to prevent diabetes, regulate sugar rushes and appetite, and speed up fat loss. Consistent consumption of the plant stem helps battle depression. All parts of the plant are usable, but the root has the most beneficial properties in the spring. Lana recommends treating dandelions like a food source rather then like a medicine.    

Using dandelions in combination with burdock plant will give a more rapid and powerful synergistic effect, since those plants are considered complementary. Burdock by itself is commonly used during detox to optimize processing of harmful substances by the liver. Dandelions are commonly found everywhere around Montréal. Lana recommends collecting the plants in the areas removed from heavy traffic. A question rises: “is it safe to collect plants in or near the city”? Lana assures that it is—the pollution levels are relatively low because of the “mushroom effect”, where the harmful substances tend to rise above the city and settle about a kilometre outside of the city periphery. As for the pesticides—their use without a special permit had finally been banned in the province.

So, enjoy your dandelion salad, it may help you to stay healthy and happy in the metropolis!




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