Thursday, March 29, 2012


Plants that promote tissue drainage (lymphatics) can play an important role in the treatment of many diseases. Infections, injuries, and dysfunctional organs heal faster with good circulation which provides improved delivery of immune cells and medicines. Some of the best lymphatics are there for the picking right in your yard.

Red clover in late spring
Red clover (Trifolium pratense) flowers can be plucked and dried from mid-spring until late fall. They contain isoflavones that improve circulation to promote healing, and are especially helpful for chronic respiratory and skin conditions. Red clover tincture or tea also stimulates estrogen receptors and can reduce menopausal symptoms. 

Violets (Viola sororia) in early spring

Violets (Viola species) are another lovely lymphatic in the yard. An infusion or syrup of the flowers is good for bronchitis with a dry cough. They have also been made into a tincture or a salve for treatment of skin cancers, though the mechanism for this longstanding application is unknown.

Cleavers is mid-spring

Look along fences, foundations, and outbuildings for cleavers (Galium aparine), the best of the backyard lymphatics. A tincture or infusion of the aerial parts improves circulation by constituent coumarins, reduces inflammation by salycylates, and stimulates diuresis by caffeine. Best of all, it works gently and without known risk for side effects or drug interactions.

One of these lymphatics can be added to a tea or tincture formula for a chronic illness to provide improved circulation for healing and to promote effectiveness of the other herbs.

Cleavers clings

HERBALIST'S NOTE: Don't confuse cleavers with the similar appearing but less active lady's bedstraw (Galium verum) which doesn't have sticky hairs.

DOCTOR'S NOTE: Avoid red clover with a history of estrogen receptor positive breast cancer or if taking blood thinners.

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