Common Weeds and Their Health Benefits
By definition, “a weed is a wild plant growing where it is not wanted and in competition with cultivated plants” (Oxford Languages). In truth, many weeds today were once used either medicinally or as a comestible throughout history.
Below is a list of four edible weeds that I found while walking in the neighborhood.
Dandelion- Are high in antioxidants and phytochemicals, which slows the progression of aging. Some studies have shown that dandelion has anti-inflammatory properties, with one study showing its efficacy in reducing lung inflammation. Dandelions are high in vitamins A, C, K, and E and contain trace amounts of B vitamins. While studies are limited, some have suggested that dandelion can reduce blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure.
Milk Thistle- A plant compound called silymarin gives milk thistle its ability to nourish, cleanse, and protect the liver. Silymarin has been well researched to provide anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and antioxidant benefits to the body. Aside from protecting the liver, milk thistle also seems to help reduce Alzheimer’s disease by aiding in removing amyloid plaque. The amyloid plaque has a sticky, starch-like consistency between nerve cells within the brain, resulting in decreased cognitive function.
Purslane- also known as hogweed, is high in vitamins, minerals, healthy fats such as omega 3’s. High in vitamin A and C, purslane is an excellent antioxidant. Purslane is also beneficial to the heart, bones, and DNA synthesis, and is an excellent source of calcium, potassium, iron, folate, choline, and magnesium. Leaves, stems, and flowers are all edible. It can be eaten raw, boiled, or sauteed.
Lavender- Is traditionally used to treat anxiety and stress. However, lavender has other health benefits too. Some health benefits include increased wound healing, increased hair growth in people with Alopecia, and treating fungal infections.
Mullein Leaf- Is excellent for bronchioles and is used to treat cough, COPD, inflammation, pain, migraine, asthma, and bronchitis. Many compounds in mullein provide its benefits. Some of these compounds are flavonoids and saponins, which both possess potent anti-inflammatory properties. This plant has also been shown to have full anti-bacterial effects against e coli and Staphylococcus aureus.
There are many health benefits to common weeds. Some of their medicinal and comestible applications have been used throughout history, making weeds some of the most resilient food and medicine on the planet.
Hill, Ansley. (2018). 13 Potential Health Benefits of Dandelion. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/dandelion-benefits#TOC_TITLE_HDR_2
West, Helen. (2018). 7 Science-Based Benefits of Milk Thistle. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/milk-thistle-benefits#TOC_TITLE_HDR_8
WebMD. (2021). Health Benefits of Purslane. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-purslane#2
Ghoshal, Malini RPh, MS. (2020). Mulling Over Mullein Leaf. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/mullein-leaf#benefits
Nordqvist, Joseph. (2019). What are the health benefits and risks of lavender? Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/265922#benefits