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When we first moved to the farm, three years ago, it was a newly constructed home which had replaced an older mobile home. The ground was very wet and muddy as happens in Oregon when the ground is being moved around for construction. There wasn't much growing on our property accept for blackberry vines- brambles - pokies - caneberries... pick your name of choice.
First on the list for the farm were goats! Goats are known for eating just about anything but they really do a number on brambles. As God would have it, there were two precious goats that needed a new home and we needed some goats!
Enter Lucy and Roscoe. These are/were our blackberry eating machines and they had an all you could eat buffet. If you are from the Northwest you understand that blackberries are rather invasive. They grow very fast, they cover absolutely everything and there is little chemical-free way to do them in. Goats are the best bet aside from burning them down. The goats were happy though!
You see though, these intrusive plants do have their upside. About August and September they produce a beautiful black, yummy berry. These berries are full of antioxidants, anti cancer properties, and they make lovely jams, jellies and pies. They are wonderful in smoothies and there is hardly a child in the pacific northwest who doesn't have memories of picking berries fresh off the vines... and then detaching the thorns from them and their clothing. But the little pain from the "pokies" is well worth the reward.
The berries don't stay around too long... their season is relatively short and with four little foragers those berries don't stand a chance! The leaves on the other hand are around for quite a while. They are currently budding as I type and wait anxiously for the return of fresh young leaves. Blackberry leaves contain many constituents: tannins, gallic acid, villiosin, starch and calcium oblate. According the the site Livestrong, they have been officially approved in Germany for use for inflammation of the mouth and throat as well as for acute diarrhea. They are also made into a tea, mouthwash and a gargling solution to help with gum issues and tooth ache.
Blackberry leaf may be made into washes, compresses and baths. It is used internally as tea, a capsule or extract. Its leaf is also slightly sweet allowing for it to be sprinkled on the top of other foods.
As this leaf is brewed, tea steeping time increases its sweetness. It is native to North America and Europe. In America, Oregon is the leading producer of blackberry leaf. (I believe it too! Really we have an acre of it!!) The berries contain dietary fiber, vitamin C, omega 3 and 6 fats.
According to the US National Library of Medicine (NCBI) blackberry leaf is anti-microbial, anti-cancer, anti-dysentery, anti-diabetic, anti-diarrheal and antioxidant. It has been traditionally used to treat whooping cough, blackberry juice used for colitis, tea from roots for labor pain and the leaves chewed for toothache. Traditionally it has also been used as an esophageal, to treat cervical and breast cancer, assist with anemia, regulate the menses, treat diarrhea and dysentery. An infusion made into a lotion could help psoriasis and scaly conditions of the skin. A gargle used to treat thrust and poultices for wounds and bruises as well as to help control minor bleeding.
As it turns out, this wild, thorny, intrusive plant can be quite helpful in a number of things! With a little pruning and control of this wonderful plant I think we can find quite a good many uses for it down on the farm. How about you? Do you see blackberry vines in a different light now? What use will you choose? I bet you can figure out how we will use it down on our TEA farm! Thanks for stopping by the farm and we hope to continue our herbal series featuring lovely, but maybe not commonly known, medicinal plants. If you are not blessed with this plant in your yard you may find the dried leaf here and blackberry root tincture here.
As always, this information is intended for educational purposes only. Please consult your physician for medical advice. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease. Please read our full medical disclaimer here.
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