West Coast Wild Harvest Issue 1 Spring/Summer 2016 - Page 21

HINTERLAND APOTHECARY Fireweed Anti-inflammatory preparations WORDS LORI SNYDER ARTWORK DARCY TARA T he Cree call it ihkapaskwa, “flowering when the moose are fattening and mating.” The Objibwa say zhoshkid jeebik or oja’cid’bik, referring to its slippery root. The Cheyenne in Montana call it “red medicine.” The English call it fireweed. A healer of burns, fireweed is the first plant to appear after a landscape has been damaged by forest fires or volcanic eruptions. It works similarly in the digestive system, where it acts as an effective anti-inflammatory. Fresh fireweed leaves can be quite sour and unpleasant, so it is often dried, which results in a flavour similar to green tea but without the caffeine. The Siberians ferment the leaves, Russians ovenroast them, and Chinese use pygmy fireweed as a styptic to control bleeding. The freshly squeezed flowers and leaves have antiseptic properties, and their dry, cooling effects provide relief for sufferers of psoriasis, eczema, acne, burns, and wounds. Gargled in an infusion, the flowers help soothe sore throats, pharyngitis, and laryngitis. A decoction of the whole plant reduces symptoms from hiccups, whooping cough, and asthma. Warning: Fireweed leaves contain substances, which like grapefruit juice, can enhance the action of pharmaceutical drugs by up to 7 times. Lori Snyder is a Métis herbalist from Vancouver, BC. Her journey has led her to develop a strong relationship with her communtiy and a healthy lifestyle promoted by natural health. Darcy Tara is a nature artist from the Han Whech’in Nation. Having grown up in the Yukon and having spent a lot of time in taiga forests, all of Darcy’s artwork is a homage to the Spirit of Nature. Ingredients 1 tsp dried fireweed leaves 1/2 tsp rose hips 1/4 tsp fireweed flowers 12 oz boiling water Method VOYAGEUR TEAS 1 2 Bring water to a boil. 3 4 Place both water and tea bag in cup. Combine ingredients and place in infuser or similar reusable tea bag. Infuse for 10 minutes or until desired strength is achieved. SPRING/SUMMER 2016 21