How to get healthy by opening your back door…

  • This is why Good life letter readers are the very best
  • A remarkable health benefit from Dandelion & Burdock
  • Why it’s time to celebrate the weed patches

I can’t thank you enough for the emails I have had since I wrote about my lockdown struggle on Friday.

You truly are a wonderful and supportive bunch, if Carlsberg made an audience for a modest little health letter, it would probably look a lot like you…

It has really helped me focus on what I do next to learn how you too have suffered and the steps you have taken to get back on track.

One of the good things that have come out of this period of solitude is the move to buy fresh food from smaller shops.

If you’ve been following my letters over the years, you’ll know that I have always banged the drum about buying local produce.

In fact, I’m convinced that making sure your fresh food comes from a local supplier is more important than worrying about whether it’s organic or not.

But there is the chance to think even more locally than the corner shop.

A few years ago a reader emailed me about her gardening and the advice has stayed with me ever since.

Penny wrote;

Dandelion is now coming out in the garden don’t dig it up, eat it – put leaves in salad or just use as greens, put flowers in salads, dig up the root eat or make decoction – cut up root and simmer for ten, fifteen mins.

I spent 30 years as a professional gardener, digging up what is our native food and medicine and putting it on the compost heap couch grass is a diuretic and ground elder is a blood cleanser.

And we go to the supermarket and buy salad packs and have all this stuff in our back gardens that we see as weeds.

Eat your weeds I say!

There is not a lot that is poisonous get a good identification book.

This has now become the rest of my life work to give people the info.

I think it’s definitely worth repeating, because it’s a very interesting idea.

I know you can grow your own fruit and vegetables, and it’s a nice idea if you’ve got the time and patience. But it’s not something I’m ever going to blather on to you about, because I’m guessing there’s quite a bit of work involved – and if there’s one thing I don’t want to do is become a health nag!

So, growing your own produce is blatantly a good thing, but it’s up to you.

However, picking weeds that grow naturally in your garden without you lifting a finger…? Now that’s something that appeals to me.

As Penny’s mentioned already, your garden will contain things you shouldn’t eat, so DON’T just race out and start munching at anything green! (Note to self to keep an eye on the kids this summer).

I think it’s great advice to find a guide to that shows you EXACTLY what’s what. In fact, I’ll make it my mission to find the best one for you.

In the meantime, here are some healthy weeds…

A powerful health store in your back garden

  • BURDOCK – the root of this weed tackles anaemia, arthritis, gout, chronic fatigue, diabetes, and cold sores to name but a few. Quite a few I grant you, but honestly, this little root seems to have an insatiable appetite to tackle illness!

There are a number of ways you can take this… as a tea (simmer a teaspoon of dried root with 1 cup of water for 15 minutes), or you can eat it fresh. But be prepared for a fight!

Burdock roots can be a few feet long, so dig around the weed to loosen the soil. Or pop down to the local health store and buy some, nip into the pub, then return home and come in the back way triumphantly, pretending you’ve spent the best part of an hour fighting the beast.

Just an idea…

  • DANDELION – If we follow Penny’s advice it’s also going to do us good as this weed has been known to treat gallstones, hepatitis, skin conditions, endometriosis and hypoglycemia.

Now then, I don’t have to describe these little fellows to you do I?

As Penny says, you can use the leaves and root, and they seem to grow all year round. Well they do in my garden at least! But apparently the best time to pick them is early spring, before the flowers appear.

Not that they’re healthier around this time – they just taste better. Leave them too long, and they taste bitter.

Again, making a tea is a great way to take this. Pour 1 cup of boiling water over four teaspoons of freshly chopped dandelion leaves and let the potion steep for at least five minutes. Various sources say go for three cups a day, so who am I to argue?

I did wonder about the health benefits of an old favourite of mine – Dandelion & Burdock pop! However, it looks like the huge amounts of sugar and relatively low levels of the good weeds means it’s not as good for you as it could be.

  • NETTLE. Again, I’m sure this devil needs no introduction, and even though I’m now supposedly a grown-up who should know better, I’m still a bit scared of the things.

Blame Peter Hill and an incident in Miller’s Pond for that!

Right, the trick with nettles is to gather them at the right time. You need to pounce in early spring before they bloom. If you try and use nettle leaves after they’ve flowered, it could irritate your urinary tract. So beware!

But if you time it right, nettle leaves are an excellent natural remedy. They are rich in calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, vitamin C, carotenes, and amino acids – which helps strengthen the body.

Who’d have thought my old enemy would turn out to be a brilliant all-round tonic?

So folks, if we ever get back in the garden again, let’s look a little more fondly on the weed patches, they might be worth more than we realise!

Yours, as always