Sunday, April 5, 2009

Where The Wild Things Are

Today I took a walk into the woods and found one of my favorite wild native plants growing! When I first moved to Western North Carolina I took a short "Wellness Weeds" class by a painfully animated lady named Molly - she sang songs about "weeds" such as stinging nettles, chickweed & dandelion that made me never forget their edible nature. She also cultivated a deep love in me for knowing how to forage your own food and medicine right in your yard. Today I found Bloodroot, which is a very controversial medicinal plant used by the Native Americans, loved by Dr. Andrew Weil, and shunned by the medical community as being poisonous and deforming to the skin. The root also makes a red sap which can be used as a dye but should only be harvested with much care to keep the ecosystem going strong by not using too much.
Each Bloodroot plant makes only one delicate white flower growing very low to the ground, then it's tropical and oddly shaped leaves thrive in a beauty that is something like a mix between a succulent & a fig leaf. Isn't it purty?!!! I love Bloodroot (seriously, this is the second time I blogged about this awesome plant!)



supayana said...

Oooh! Awesome...I'm actually thinking of taking a class like that this summer in Montreal. What is bloodroot used for medicinally??? I've never seen anything like it...x

The Oko Box said...

Hey Supayana!
There are a couple things it's said to have been used for medicinally - the modern use that has gotten alot of negative attention is for cancer, which apparently cured some and disfigured others when used topically. Dr. Andrew Weil experimented with it first on his dog then on a friend for removing growths like moles or benign tumors, saying it removed them with more accuracy then a surgical cut and appeared to seperate the dead/abnormal cells from the normal live cells.
And here is an excerpt i found about Native American use & the FDA frown on the plant
"Medical Uses: Native Americans, early settlers and herbal practitioners have prescribed Bloodroot for myriad medical conditions from skin cancers to sore throats. Its most persistent and possibly valid use takes advantage of the flesh destroying properties of the root juice or powered root for treating conditions of the skin such as ringworm, warts, polyps, fungal growths and the like. Researchers are investigating the root's value in cancer treatment. An extract has long been used in toothpaste and mouthwash to fight plaque and gingivitis and this use is now sanctioned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The root has been used internally, in very small doses, to stimulate the digestive system and as an emetic. Self medication should be avoided, as the plant can be toxic. Even small doses can produce unwanted effects such as visual distortions. Warning: The FDA considers Bloodroot "unsafe" and urges that it not be used by herbal healers. It is far to attractive a plant to dig up anyway."
Can't wait to here all about your class - I bet Canada has alot of the same native plants as we do here in the smokey mountains. :)

Anonymous said...

You look like a little plant yourself there-- reason #168 why you belong in the woods.

I love Dr. Weil. He's the doctor that diagnosed me with chemical sensitivity. I went to see him in Arizona. He's taught me so much about food and living a healthy lifestyle.

Love that little plant!

The Oko Box said...

Susie, that is so cool that you got to go to him. I found that reading some of his books and listening to his talks on tape were very helpful to me. I loved his Breathing CD's which actually changed the way i breathe now, which was once fast short breaths and now are more normal. I also like his experimental spirit, because he doesnt follow main stream, yet remains very professional.

The Wild ones said...

The flowers are great! Photos were taken at its best.