Hiking in the Alps is like wandering through a natural pharmacy. Next to the hiking path, you’ll find one herb after another with a medicinal effect. The amount of species which are known for their healing powers is incredible…
- a bruised leaf from plantain is known to prevent itching caused by insect bites or nettles,
- leaves of a blueberry in herbal teas helps against diarrhoea,
- tea made from the flowers of St. John’s wort is good against depression,
- and syrup made from butterbur helps against coughing.
However, wild plants aren’t only known for their healing powers, but eating them also is supposed to have a preventive effect. For example juice made from Good-King-Henry is good for your kidneys, the roots of stinging nettles are good for your prostate and wild thyme is good for digestion.
It’s no surprise that for the inhabitants of the Alps, wild plants have traditionally been an important source of medicines, vitamins and minerals.
See also last week’s blog: Edible Plants in The Alps – Top 5 Species
Here are five common plant species In the Alps which are easy to recognize and often used for their healing effects:
ARNICA (Arnica montana)
Arnica oil is surprisingly easy to make with olive or sunflower oil and can be used for bumps, bruises, swellings and muscle aches.
YARROW (Achillea millefolium)
Yarrow flowers have an antispasmodic effect and can be drunk fresh or dried in a cup of hot water for menstrual pains. It’s also good for blood circulation and can, for example, help against cold hands and feet.
ALPINE LADY’S MANTLE (Alchemilla alpina)
This plant looks very similar to common lady’s mantle, but the alpine version can be recognized by the silver lining on the outside of the leaf. Drinking tea with this herb helps with menstrual problems, just like yarrow does. Curious fact: the droplets that lie on the leaves in the morning are partly dew and partly made by the plant itself. These droplets were considered by some alchemists to be the elixir of life with magical and medical powers.
Place a crushed leaf (by chewing on it, for example) on an insect sting or where a nettle has stung to relieve the pain. A pulp of the leaves will also help with wounds and ulcers.
ST JOHNS-WORT (Hypericum perforatum)
Often used as a tea which is particularly known for its anti-depressive effect. All above-ground parts of the herb (fresh or dried) are suitable for making tea. Oil made from the herb can also be massaged externally and has a stimulating effect on our body.