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Backyard remedies

Jim Boxberger
Posted 6/14/24

If you suffer from seasonal allergies like my wife, Vicki, does, then this year has been a doozie so far. To try to provide some natural relief, we went looking for some bee pollen this past weekend …

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Garden Guru

Backyard remedies


If you suffer from seasonal allergies like my wife, Vicki, does, then this year has been a doozie so far. To try to provide some natural relief, we went looking for some bee pollen this past weekend at a few farmer’s markets, but no luck. Local bee pollen helps your immune system build up natural antibodies to the local pollens that may be aggravating your allergies. But pollen is hard to find as many beekeepers do not harvest the pollen and if you find it in a health food store it may come from the midwest and will do nothing to help against local pollens. I have had a few customers in over the past couple weeks complaining about all the pollen covering their vehicles in the morning that has that familiar yellow tinge. They wondered why the bees didn’t collect all of this, but this pollen is different. The pollen you get covering your vehicle is tree pollen, predominately from pine trees. This tree pollen is wind blown from tree to tree and doesn’t require pollinators to spread it around, so there isn’t much for the bees to do with this type of pollen. But taking local bee pollen is an all natural remedy for allergies compared to over the counter medications. 

Other remedies can be found right in your own backyard. What if you were on a weekend trip, camping in the Adirondacks and you forgot to pack your Neosporin or after-bite? Well hundreds of years ago, none of the modern medicines we have today were around, so native Americans had to use what was around them. Like ancient Chinese medicines, native Americans had remedies for many common ailments. Of course like everything else, as newer medicines became available over the years, these old remedies have been almost forgotten. But just because something is newer, doesn’t always mean it’s better, just more expensive. The first plant remedy is one that I have plenty of experience with and that is Jewelweed. Jewelweed grows everywhere around our area and it is a great treatment for bug bites, bee stings and poison ivy. It is also the easiest plant remedy to use as all you need to do is break a stem and rub the sap on the affected area. We sell a Jewelweed soap for poison ivy at the store, which most people keep in their camping and travel bags, for those adventures out of the area. But Jewelweed isn’t just for poison ivy, it is great for bites and stings too. Jewelweed works immediately to alleviate the pain from bites or stings just as well as commercially available Afterbite. It really is a wonder plant that most people know nothing about. Most people just think it is another weed and throw it away when weeding the backyard.

Another weed with a purpose is one that will help you if you get some scrapes and abrasions after a woodland hike and you don’t have your Neosporin with you. Common milkweed with its white milky sap will help heal scrapes and sores and can even help in removing warts and corns. You can put the sap on the scrapes or make a “tea” from the leaves that you can use as a wash for cuts and scrapes. To make the tea, take a handful of leaves and steep them in a pint of hot water for 10 minutes. This tea is not for drinking, it is for cleaning wounds of dirt and debris, and will help in the healing process.

If you don’t have milkweed around, how about some burdock. Burdock, that weed with the round seed pods that get matted in your dogs fur in the summer as it sticks with velcro like hooks. But burdock has a medicinal property as well. The large leaves of the burdock plant can be ground up and turned into a poultice that you can put on wounds to help in healing when commercial remedies are not available. 

Much medicinal plant knowledge has been lost over the last 200 years in North America, but the internet is helping to spread the word about these natural remedies. It just takes a lot of looking, but it’s worth the time.


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