Monday, 13 July 2015

7th July - Green Drinks The folklore of Irish Plants and Herbs

This month on Green Drinks Dublin Branch member Niall Mac Coitir spoke about the customs and stories about our native plants and flowers, including their herbal uses. Some of the plants he talked about included well-known 'weeds' or wild flowers such as dandelion, also known as 'piss-a-bed' because of its diuretic properties, and lesser celandine also known as 'pilewort' from the belief in its power to cure piles or haemorrhoids. Other folk uses included eating the young leaves of nettles, in broth or soup on account of their vitamins, and using the older leaves to sting those suffering from arthritis or rheumatism! Another interesting plant is meadowsweet, which was used to cure fevers, coughs and colds, and which contains salicylate, the same substance that is found in aspirin. 

A fact that emerged from the talk is that it is fair to say that practically every plant that grows wild  has some herbal use or other. A lively debate ensued, during which it was agreed that our native Irish plants a huge and nowadays neglected resource of cures and herbal remedies.

Prunella or self-heal, widely used in Irish folk medicine
to heal wounds, and in a tea as a pick-me-up

Lesser Celandine or pilewort


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