Nearly every country and culture has its own herb lore — native plants that that were long believed to promote good health, and even good luck, to those who ate, drank, or carried them. Ireland, especially, had a wealth of herbal lore passed on by local healers well beyond the start of the Industrial age, much longer than many other European nations. Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, here’s a look at some herbal remedies passed down by the “fairy doctors” of old Éire.
Comfrey Root: Used for healing minor cuts, scrapes, and burns, battling inflammation from diaper rash, varicose veins, and arthritis, and reducing swelling from bruises, sprains, or pulled muscles.
Dandelion Leaves: Used externally on wounds as an antibacterial, and to remove corns and warts. Used internally to promote healthy kidneys, prevent gallstones, fight jaundice, ease constipation, and soothe edema, joint pain, gout, eczema, and acne.
Eyebright: A solution of eyebright was used as an eyewash or compress to reduce inflammation from conjunctivitis, eyestrain, styes, and general eye irritation. It was also taken internally for allergies, bronchitis, colds, and sinus infections.
Feverfew: Used as a remedy for headaches, arthritis, fevers, skin conditions, stomach aches, and asthma. Also used to promote more regular menstrual cycles and ease childbirth.
Garlic (wild): Used to soothe coughs, asthma, and shortness of breath.
Horehound: Used as a cough expectorant and mild laxative, and to bring on menstruation.
Marshmallow Leaves: Used in dressings to soothe sprains and swelling.
Meadowsweet: Used to treat arthritis pain. (Contains salicylic acid, which is chemically similar to an active ingredient in aspirin).
Mullein: Used as a decongestant and expectorant for respiratory illnesses. Also used to soothe sore throats, treat diarrhea, and cure earaches.
Nettles: Used to treat rashes, eczema, arthritis, gout, and diarrhea.
Sphagnum Moss: Used to dress wounds.
Vervain: Used to promote a healthy liver, fight fatigue, reduce fever, prevent insomnia, soothe asthma, and promote more regular menstrual cycles.
Willow Bark: Used to treat arthritis pain. (Contains salicylic acid, which is chemically similar to an active ingredient in aspirin).
Yarrow: Used to reduce bleeding in wounds, ulcers, hemorrhoids, etc. Also used to reduce inflammation and treat aches and pains. (Contains salicylic acid, which is chemically similar to an active ingredient in aspirin).