There is one herb that is not only one of the first to appear but one that everyone can recognise. The common daisy (Bellis perennis) is a flower that we learn to recognise from a very early age; its flowers opening in response to the first sunny days of spring.
It has another common name, bruisewort, which gives an indication of one of its uses as a wound herb. It may also be used to reduce inflammation and is effective against bacteria, viruses and fungal infections. It can help with respiratory congestion such as coughs, catarrh, sinusitis and wheezing and has been used as a circulatory stimulant for both the heart and the peripheral circulation helping to ease chilblains.
It is reputed to help with liver disorders and with joint problems such as gout, and rheumatic pain and eases muscle spasms. The whole plant may be used including the root although it may be easier just to harvest the leaves. Make a tea using a small handful of leaves to a cup of boiling water. Leave to stand for 5 minutes before straining off the liquid.
You may drink the liquid for internal use (it does taste quite acrid) or use the water to bathe a bruise or a wound. The strained off plant matter may also be applied as a poultice. Only pick daisies in areas away from busy roads and where you are sure that sprays have not been used. Do not pick wild plants unless you are sure of their identification.
Christine Best MIIMH, MNIMH is a fully qualified medical herbalist practising in Kilflynn and can be found at the all Therapy Centre, Rock St Tralee every Thursday from 3pm until 5. She may also be found every second Saturday in Milltown Farmers Market . She may be contacted at An Páircín Clinic of Herbal Medicine, Stacksmountain, Kilflynn 086 1939217 www.kerryherbalist.com