In the Weeds: Plantain (nope, the other one)

The difference between a weed and a flower is judgment. Or maybe just attention. Who – other than the gardeners who spend hours uprooting them – really thinks about weeds? Weeds are tenacious growers, always looking for new ways to survive where they’re not wanted. Although most are unassuming, they always carry rich histories and often have potent properties. Learning about these overlooked plants can teach us about spontaneity, endurance, and healing. Every two weeks, I’ll find out everything I can about a local (to wherever I am at the time) weed that’s in season so that we can become better acquainted with one of our quiet but powerful neighbors.

We all know that plantains are the world’s best starch, but did you know that plantain (Plantago spp.) is just as wonderful?

plantainplantain

Plantain has been in North America since Europeans invaded in the 15th century. Now, thanks to its invasive and stubborn nature, it lives almost everywhere where humans do. Plantain’s tiny seeds – over 20,000 growing on each plant – hitched a ride across the continent on European’s boots, leading members of Algonquian nations to call it “White Mans Foot” or “English Man’s Foot.” Perhaps this – or the shape of the leaf – is what gave rise to the scientific name, Plantago.

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Making Tinctures and Liniments With the Weight to Volume Method

Tinctures or liniments are medicines made by extracting the constituents of plants in a liquid. While they’re made using the same process, they’re used differently. Tinctures are taken internally, liniments are applied externally. Extractions of some plants can be used as both tinctures and liniments. For example, yarrow is used as a tincture to reduce a fever and as a liniment to cleanse wounds and stop bleeding. Tinctures and liniments are particularly beneficial in the winter because they preserve plants’ medicinal properties long after the growing season is over.

If you’ve ever cooked with vanilla or had a cocktail with bitters, you’ve used a tincture. Some tinctures don’t taste so great. Motherwort tincture is almost unbearably bitter. However, this is precisely why we make these plants into tinctures. Can you imagine having to sip a cup of bitter tea?

Tinctures and liniments have two main components: the marc and the menstruum. The marc is the plant material and the menstruum is the liquid that dissolves the plant constituents.


The weight to volume method sounds a little finicky at first, but is easy to master. I like this method because it lets people know exactly what they’re getting, dosage-wise, and can be remade over and over again.

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Easy, Wheezy! Decongestant Salve

Even though it’s officially spring, both the weather and my lungs are holding on tight to winter. It’s all kinds of rainy and cold outside, and I can’t quite shake the stuffy nose I picked up last week.

Easy, Wheezy! Decongestant Salve - MamootDIY.com

I whipped up a little homemade VapoRub (Viva Peru!) to get me through the next few days of this cold, and – BONUS – to help me take on the spring allergies I know are coming as soon as everything starts blooming.

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Snowbound Soap

Welcome to the end of first snow day of the year! I’ve been snuggled up inside all day hanging out with my plants and baking cookies (with a quick jaunt into the cold to play capoeira to shake off my cabin fever).

Snowbound Soap - MamootDIY.com

I’ve been waiting this whole unseasonably-warm season for an excuse to post about my favorite new  creation: snowbound soap.

Snowbound Soap - MamootDIY.com

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En Lo Pequeño Radica La Fuerza: Herbalism for Quiet(er) Revolutionaries

For as long as it’s existed, A-Camp has been one of my favorite places. It’s also been a place that turns the worry knob in my brain up to full blast. I worry that I’m too small or maybe pretending to be big but what if I’m too big and then everyone can see right through me and what if seeing through turns into looking past and and and and and.

So this year, after a winter that was more cold than cozy, I wrote a love letter to myself in my application and planned to lead nothing but arts and crafts for four days. Y’all! We made tiny grills, sewed coptic-bound books, and made jewelry out of recycled beer cans, but my favorite activity was the herbalism knowledge share I hosted. We were a ragtag group of queers and damn if every single person there didn’t have something to teach me.

I came home from camp with a low humming calm that my body had known before but forgot the year it first knew blood. I’m not saying I came back perfect or fixed, but I stopped confusing devastation with depth and started to feel the whole way around things. Like maybe the earth is a warm place. Like maybe I make it warmer.

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Chocolatey Cocoa Butter Lip Balm

Valentine’s Day means chocolate. Lots and lots of it. With all the sweet people in your life sure to have eaten enough chocolate to last them for the next month, now’s the perfect time to make them a different kind of chocolate kiss.

Cocoa Butter Lip Balm - Mamoot DIY

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Gentle Tattoo-Healing Lotion

Just recently, my girlfriend came home from a week in Chicago with a new tattoo. After showing me the still-red a-camp mountain on her arm, she went in the other room to rub some lotion on it and – “OW!” As much as I love Vaseline’s lotion, it’s isn’t the most gentle stuff on broken skin.

Wanting to give her something a little less painful and a lot more DIY, I researched tattoo healing and got to work.

Gentle Tattoo Healing Lotion - Mamoot DIY

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