Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Shin-splint plant

A few weeks ago I was suffering shin splints from apparently too much exercise. As I have some spare time up my sleeve I'll share with you the approach I took to treating this. My symptoms were initially a sore leg, which I ignored. This developed into a swollen ankle, or a highly attractive cankle. I had a cankle for three days by the time I could see a doctor, and it wasn't getting any smaller.

The medical advice I was given was to rest up and apply voltaren gel. Now resting is free, but this gel is about $10 for 20g. A pharmacist on holiday in the caravan park said I needed to double the dose listed on the packet for it to be effective. Do all pharmacists come across as drug dealers? Anyway, I took neither advice in terms of liniment and instead refereed to my scanned copy of Australian Weeds which has a section on ailments and possible 'weeds' that help. I checked the back of a packet of voltaren gel and it said 'for treating inflammation'. 

For inflammation, Australian Weeds suggests chickweed. So I flipped to chickweed and read that if you boil a handful of chickweed in a muslin or cloth (I used a sock) for ten minutes, and apply the resulting mush to the affected area as a poultice. Following that you can use the remaining green liquid from the boiled water, once it has cooled, to bathe the area. So, after finding the weed in the dilapidated garden beds of the Mildura Centro, one night at 9pm I followed these instructions, putting the green mush on my shin until the water had cooled, and then splashing my shin and fat ankle with the luke warm green water. 

The next morning I woke up and my ankle was regular sized. I didn't believe it at first and if you were there you would have heard me say 'Holy Shit!' Nothing works that fast, does it? Tips for recognizing chickweed next time you are 'inflamed' are to Google for an image, read a description, and look for the hairy stems - the line of hairs on the stem alternates between sides of the stem each leaf node, which you can see by spinning it slowly in the sunlight. Make sure it has this distinctive feature as the caustic petty spurge looks similar (the milky sap of petty spurge can burn a hole in your skin so it is best avoided). 

Chickweed is also a VERY nutritious addition to salad and sandwiches, or a nice healthy garnish or topper to any meal. Chickens also enjoy it as fodder, hence its common name. Pulling this 'weed' out of you garden, or worse still spraying it with herbicide, IS A CRIME (if you ask me).

No comments: