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This article is part 2 of the series of pieces focused on the topic of herbalism. This month University of McGill held a talk by Lana Kimm McGeary, a Montréal-based herbalist with over 20 years of experience. Lana focused on using the native plants of Quebec to promote health and well-being.
According to Lana, red clover is one of the most widely used legumes in herbal medicine. Surprisingly, the red clover is one of the very few plants that contains a complete set of essential amino acids, and should be treated as a food source. Since the plant is mildly estrogenic, it aids in prevention of breast cancer by blocking estrogens’ receptors. Red clover is most often used in salads and teas. Upon consumption it is important to check for brown spots on the flower—they are usually a sign of fungal growth. The best way to preserve the flowers is drying them. Make sure that the heads do not touch each other when the flowers are spread out to dry. It is essential to note that the above is applicable only to red clover plants, and not the white clover, which is not usually used in herbalism practice due to lack of medicinal properties.
Lana uses Mugwort plants extensively in her practice. It is good for the digestive tract, and is often used to eliminate parasites. Mugwort is also beneficial for the female reproductive system, and particularly acts on the uterus. Predominantly, consumption of this plant helps shrink the uterine walls of recent mothers, alleviate symptoms of PMS, and decrease cramping.
Another great example of a medicinal plant commonly found in Montreal area is linden. Linden trees flower around June 21, and this is when the harvesting should be done. The linden flowers are good for the heart and the vascular system: they decrease the levels of “bad” cholesterol, regenerate inflamed and damaged tissues (including scars), and relieve joint pain when used as a compress. Also, linden-infused water makes an excellent face wash.
You can find those plants all over the Montreal area. They are here to stay, so use them to your advantage!