Spring is in full swing now and our beloved British weeds are thriving.

I have temporarily de-camped to Somerset for a month or two, and the borders of my mother’s orchards are crammed with competing wild plant life. Amongst them Jack by the Hedge, Cleavers, Ground Ivy, Dog Roses, Ground Elder, Nettles, Apple Mint, Burdock, Wild Garlic, Dock leaves and the list goes on. Each one of these has its own set of powerful medicinal properties but as we are coming into mid Spring and Summer- it feels like the perfect time for a Spring clean of our bodies!

This weekend I made a potent Spring Tonic with Nettles, Ribwort Plantain, Dandelion, Apple Mint and Cleavers. A cup of this 1-3 times a day will give your system a cleanse - or you can add a little bit to your glass of Sparkling English Rose.



Ribwort Plantain


Apple Mint




To make the tea, grab a few leaves of each plant, put them in a saucepan or heatproof glass jar, and pour in boiling water. Let it steep for 20 minutes for a delicious infusion. If you prefer a stronger tonic, let it infuse overnight. Then you will have a punchy Spring tonic which you can drink over a day or two.

Plant Benefits

My only recommendation is that when picking nettle tips, you go for the youngest freshest leaves at the top, and wear gloves!! They will continue to sting until they are wilted.

These are all extremely common so I hope they will be easy to find.

Here are the most traditional medicinal uses of these garden herbs.

Nettles - 2 or 3 nettle tops

A cleansing and detoxifying herb. Diuretic properties which assist with the elimination of waste products. Used for skin conditions and arthritis. Nettle also used for stemming bleeding and heavy menstrual bleeds. It is also antiallergenic so can treat hay fever, asthma, itchy skin and insect bites. Nettle root is now also being used to treat an enlarged prostate.

Ribwort Plantain - 2-3 leaves

Whilst being used as a treatment for bites and stings externally, when made into a tea it is used to treat congestion in the lungs so helps with asthma, coughs, colds by increasing mucus production and clearing out infection.

Dandelion - 3 flowers and 3 leaves

Used a diuretic and a treatment of high blood pressure by reducing fluids in the body.

It is a detoxifying herb that stimulates the liver and gall bladder to clear waste products in the body. Helpful to clear toxicity from inflammation, dietary issues and environment conditions.

Apple Mint - a spring / substitute with regular mint depending on what you can find

Used to treat gastrointestinal illnesses, IBS and respiratory symptoms.

Cleavers (Goosegrass/sticky willy) - 2 stalks

A detoxifier and strong diuretic. An infusion of cleavers is used to treat skin diseases such as excess, psoriasis, for swollen lymph nodes and as a detoxifying agent for serious illnesses such as cancer. An infusion is the common use, but it can be juiced for more critical conditions where a detoxing diuretic is necessary.

As an alternative to buying plastic bags of salad and spinach, I have started grabbing a few leaves every day to have in an omelette or salad or to add to anything really. I usually pick some wild garlic, some baby dock leaves, jack by the hedge and a few nettle tips and fry them all in butter before adding them to my dish. The wonderful thing is that you can grab just a few leaves of each making up a small handful and it will typically be more nutrient dense than your typical vegetable (i.e. most wild greens contain more antioxidants, vitamin C, vitamin E and beta carotene than carrots or spinach). 

I hope you enjoy. 

Louise x

Reference books

Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine: 560 Herbs and Remedies for Common Ailments by Andrew Chevallier

The Gardener’s Companion to Medicinal Plants: An A-Z of Headling Plants and Home Remedies by Royal Botanical Gardens of Kew

Grow Your Own Drugs by James Wong