I started the day with a nourishing tea made of pine needles, rose hips, mint and mallow greens, all gathered within a half block of my apartment in the city. It was more like a broth than a tea, because mallow has a gooey quality that thickened the mixture and gave it a hearty texture. Mallow is a prolific weed that grows close to the ground on sidewalks all over the city. It has rounded leaves and distinctive little fruits that look like green cheesewheels — and they actually taste like little cheesewheels, too!
Herbalists consider mallow to be a moistening herb, and they use its roots topically to treat skin irritations and internally to soothe the stomach and respiratory tract. In western society we distinguish between food and medicine, but other cultures consider them interchangeable. The Ayurvedic tradition, for instance, closely links the diet to health, encouraging the use of herbs as daily tonics to support bodily functions and prevent illness.
Rose hips are widely known for their high Vitamin C content, but native people used all parts of the plant for a wide array of medicinal purposes. The flower petals are said to help heartburn, the roots treat diarrhea, and the seeds can be used to combat muscle aches, according to Gregory L. Tilford’s book “Edible and Medicinal Plants of the West.”
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