Many herbs and medicinal plants in the wild are just “weeds” to us. Dandelion, gout, stinging nettle, and the like often contain more nutrients and vitamins than vegetables in the supermarket.
Wild plant walking trails, cooking courses and workshops to get to know them: Shows dealing with wild plants like weeds. For our ancestors, wild plants were part of everyday life. In the medicine box as well as on the plate. After we have lost knowledge about the so-called cannabis over the years, more and more people are starting to develop the need to retrieve this knowledge. There is a tour on the corresponding courses, and they are usually fully booked.
Back to the assets
Ethnobotanist Maya Dal Cero has studied the relationships between plants and humans for many years. From a health point of view, it makes sense for them to put wild plants back on the menu.
Wild plants often contain more minerals and vitamins than vegetables in the supermarket. Stinging nettle, for example, contains seven times more vitamin C than an orange. But when it comes to magnesium, calcium, potassium, and protein, stinging nettle is one of the most nutritious plants out there. Among other things, stinging nettle is considered a natural remedy to stimulate metabolism, purify the blood and have a diuretic effect.
The Romans ate ground elderberry to treat gout, and it also contained the same amount of protein as green peas and much more than juicy turnips. Even the chrysanthemum flower is clearly superior to the turnip in terms of nutrients.
Revival of the time material
Many wild plants and vegetables also contain a high level of bitter substances. All chemical compounds that have a bitter taste are referred to as bitter substances. However, it has been breeding over the past decades, so today we are no longer accustomed to bitter substances.
The return of bitter materials has been observed for some time. “The variety of bitter vegetables on offer has increased over the past few years. For example, elegant choré, spinach and cabbage are more popular with customers,” confirms Rebecca Veiga of retailer Coop. “We’re also seeing a clear trend in bittersweet drinks.”
bitter substances in medicine
Bitter substances have always played an important role in medicine. Herbalist and nun Hildegard von Bingen, who lived around AD 1000, recommended bitter herbs in particular. The focus was on the effect on the digestive system as an aid to improve digestion.
Modern science also deals with these materials. The reason for reviving bitter substances that were used on a daily basis: Ten years ago, receptors for bitter substances were discovered not only in the tongue and digestive system, but also in the brain, lungs, heart and urinary tract. Even in the skin there are receptors that can absorb bitter substances. Meanwhile, 25 different receptors for the bitter substance have been tracked.
Since then, researchers have been trying to find a possible effect of bitter substances in these organs. Among other things, the effect of bitter substances in asthma, cardiovascular diseases or diseases of the gastrointestinal tract is being researched. So far there are interesting indications of positive effects. However, the applications in everyday clinical practice remain elusive.
Research is still in its infancy
Reinhard Saler, professor emeritus of physical therapy at the University of Zurich, points to studies showing that various bitter substances are also used in dermatology, “almost in recourse to very old traditions.” Hopes are especially high for psoriasis.
However, for him, another potential effect of bitter substances is particularly interesting: the effect on depression. This has to do with digestion. Bitter substances help in the prevention of diseases and disorders of the digestive system. “Because our digestive system has such a huge impact on the entire organism, including our thoughts and feelings, bitter substances can be used to counteract moods,” says Saler.
However, researching the effects of bitter substances presents a major challenge. Bitter materials are not only healthy in general. It is important to know which of the different bitter substances have an effect on the future of bitter in any organ. A complex issue that has not yet yielded many tangible results.
Detoxing through bitter substances?
Bitter powder, capsules and tea have always been popular on the Internet. It is said to stop cravings and help you lose weight.
Suppliers also recommend wild plants like stinging nettle and dandelion in spring for “purification” and “detoxification.” However, these terms are not used in science. However, bitter substances in the liver stimulate certain enzymes that convert the highly fat-soluble substances into a more water-soluble form. In this way, these materials can be taken out better. Reinhard Saler sees a certain health impact in this.
Prepare delicious wild plants
Regardless of whether they are empty promises or scientifically proven advantages, one thing is clear: wild plants are fashionable. The herbs on the doorstep often end up on the dish, both in the gastronomy and at home. Herbalist Katharina Reichmuth offers wild plant walks and cooking courses. She knows all the tricks for dealing with wild weeds in the kitchen.
You find that washing is necessary only when you discover a particularly rare or tasty herb, and you’re not sure how clean your picking is.
Another tip from Expterin is to avoid blenders, for example when preparing wild plant pesto. She recommends chopping with a knife instead, since the herbs in the blender are very juicy. It also treats cooking temperature differently: When Reichmuth fry a leaf in oil, it does so at less than medium heat. Then it takes a lot longer than usual – six minutes instead of two.