Saturday, March 17, 2012

Irish Herb Lore for St. Patrick's Day

Nearly every country and culture has its own herb lore – native plants that that were long believed to promote good health, and even good luck, to those who ate, drank, or carried them. My family and especially the family of my husband are both German and Irish.  In celebration of my husbands Patron Saint, St. Patrick, I thought today would be a great day to focus on special herbs of Ireland.
Ireland has a wealth of herbal lore passed on by local healers.  Unlike much of Europe that turned away from herbal remedies and healing methods with the start of the Industrial Age, Ireland held onto those herbal traditions.  So here is a quick look at some herbal remedies passed down by the “fairy doctors” of old Éire.
Herbs of Ireland
Comfrey Root: Used for healing minor cuts, scrapes, and burns, battling inflammation from diaper rash, varicose veins, and arthritis, and reducing swelling from bruises, sprains, or pulled muscles.

Dandelion Leaves: Used externally on wounds as an antibacterial, and to remove corns and warts. Used internally to promote healthy kidneys, prevent gallstones, fight jaundice, ease constipation, and soothe edema, joint pain, gout, eczema, and acne.

Eyebright: A solution of eyebright was used as an eyewash or compress to reduce inflammation from conjunctivitis, eyestrain, styes, and general eye irritation. It was also taken internally for allergies, bronchitis, colds, and sinus infections.

Feverfew: Used as a remedy for headaches, arthritis, fevers, skin conditions, stomach aches, and asthma. Also used to promote more regular menstrual cycles and ease childbirth.

Garlic (wild): Used to soothe coughs, asthma, and shortness of breath.

Horehound: Used as a cough expectorant and mild laxative, and to bring on menstruation.

Marshmallow Leaves: Used in dressings to soothe sprains and swelling.

Meadowsweet: Used to treat arthritis pain. (Contains salicylic acid, which is chemically similar to an active ingredient in aspirin).

Mullein: Used as a decongestant and expectorant for respiratory illnesses. Also used to soothe sore throats, treat diarrhea, and cure earaches.

Nettles: Used to treat rashes, eczema, arthritis, gout, and diarrhea. [unless your allergic!]

Sphagnum Moss: Used to dress wounds.

Vervain: Used to promote a healthy liver, fight fatigue, reduce fever, prevent insomnia, soothe asthma, and promote more regular menstrual cycles.

Willow Bark: Used to treat arthritis pain. (Contains salicylic acid, which is chemically similar to an active ingredient in aspirin).

Yarrow: Used to reduce bleeding in wounds, ulcers, hemorrhoids, etc. Also used to reduce inflammation and treat aches and pains. (Contains salicylic acid, which is chemically similar to an active ingredient in aspirin).


  1. Hi Marcy. I am growing Horehound and Feverfew from seeds this year. Do you have any suggestions for growing them properly? Thanks for sharing.

  2. Feverfew is perfect from seed and will love a nice sunny place, just do not put it out until after fear of frost has passed. Horehound is a slow growing perennial so you will not see much growth the first year, but once it is established you will have a nice plant you can harvest from every year. Thin both of these in your growing medium to one plant in 2 inches after you have two real leaves, not seed leaves. Then plant outside with 6 to 8 inch spacing for feverfew and 12 to 14 inch spacing for horehound. I did an herb of the week on feverfew back on 11/24/10 which you can get more info from. Thanks for the question!


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