Medicinal Plants

Self Heal, Vancouver Island, BC
Self Heal, Vancouver Island, BC, photo by Bud Logan


The Bedstraw Plant is also known as cleavers, goosegrass, grip grass, catch weed and it is a very valuable plant, being perhaps the best tonic to the lymphatic system available. As a lymphatic tonic with alternative and diuretic action, bedstraw may be used safely in a wide range of problems where the lymphatic system is involved. These include swollen glands anywhere in the body, especially in tonsillitis and adenoid trouble. Read More….



Black Huckleberry

The Black Huckleberry is an erect, deciduous shrub 1 to 2 m tall. The leaves, up to 5 cm long, are elliptical with a long pointed tip and a finely serrated margin. The bell-shaped flowers are creamy pink and are found singly on the underside of the twigs. The berries are large, spherical, sweet, and dark purple or black. In some forms the berries are covered with a waxy bloom; others have shiny dark berries. Read More….



Bleeding Heart

As with so many plants of the BC coastal region, this species also has medicinal value. You can make a root tincture or a hot compress to help with pain relief and it can be applied externally to bruises and sprains. Internally a tincture of bleeding heart can also help calm frazzled nerves especially after a frightening experience such as an accident or other trauma. The roots of this plant are generally gathered in summer and fall, up to the time when the leaves start to turn. Read More….




They also used them for medicinal purposes and made a strong aromatic tea from the root.  Early medical books show this same tea was used by wives of settlers during labor. The juice was used for “old coughs” and tea made from the leaves was believed to be a good tonic to help purify the blood. Native Americans encouraged its growth by periodically burning the fields, which would quickly grow again with new plants. Read More….




The Cascara is still used in herbal medicine for the same purpose, as well as to cleanse the bowels. In modern herbal medicine, it is considered a stimulant laxative and has the potential for abuse. No one is entirely sure how it relieves constipation and cleanses the bowels but Many people believe the herb may irritate the bowel tissue and draw fluid into the intestines. By drawing this fluid in, it produces a bowel movement. Read More….



Cooleys Hedge Nettle

Cooley’s Hedge Nettle, although a true Nettle, does not sting. The Plant grows profusely on the south coast of BC. The Nuu-chah-nulth fishermen wiped their hands on this plant before handling their gear to lessen their scent left on it. The Saanich peoples made spring tonic by steeping the crushed rhizomes in boiling water.  Read More….



Cows Parsley

The Cows Parsley is an aromatic herb that acts as a diuretic, soothes the digestive tract, and stimulates the uterus. A wonderfully cleansing medicine, it supports the liver, stimulates the flow of urine, and the removal of waste by the kidneys. An infusion is used in the treatment of various complaints including digestive disorders, kidney and bladder diseases, and in the treatment of dropsy. Read More….



Devils Club

Devils Club grows all over the BC coastal region, It grows best in wet shaded areas and the coast has plenty of wet shaded areas. Its maple-shaped leaves resemble thimbleberry leaves but up close the spines make identification simple. It is found all over the Pacific Northwest and quite often forms dense thickets with stems over 3 meters tall. It spreads mostly by the stems falling to the ground and taking root. Read More….




The normal life of a Foxglove plant is two seasons, but sometimes the roots, which are formed of numerous, long, thick fibers, persist and will flower for several seasons. In the first year a rosette of leaves, but no stem, is sent up. In the second year, one or more flowering stems are thrown up, which are from 1 to 1.3 meters high. In early summer, huge bunches of beautiful flowers bloom, although the time of flowering depends upon elevation.  Read More….



Goats Beard

A graceful member of the Rose family, Goats Beard grows freely in the western portion of the Pacific Northwest including all of the BC coast, in damp openings in the woods and close to streams and pools. Many of the first people groups used Goats beard medicinally. The Olympic Peninsula’s Klallam people made a salve of root ashes to rub on sores. The Quinault and Quileute people made a poultice from scraped roots to apply to sores. Read More….



Harebell Flower

Harebell Flowers are sometimes called The Devils Bell and The Fairies Thimble as it’s reputed to have sheltered the fairies in the old country. It was called Harebell as folk believed that witches used juices squeezed from the flower to turn themselves into hares. The harebell can be used in remedies for earache that is made from the roots, just boil the roots, cool, and then use as ear drops. Read More….



Herb Robert

Herb Robert is an annual plant that grows to 40 cm tall, the stems branch in many directions and may turn red in color. The leaves are green and about 6cm long and are palmate in shape, deeply cut, and often tinged with colors of pink, red, or bronze. Stems and leaves are covered with very fine hairs. Herb Robert is a therapeutic herb, although, very little information is available on the constituents, this herb’s action is one of the best herbs that can be used regularly, as a boost to the immune system. Read More….




Kinnikinnick is a native ground cover plant much beloved by humans, animals, and birds. In traditional herbal medicine, it is the leaves that are used. Gathered in the fall, dry and crush the leaves, then store in airtight containers or freeze, you can also make a tea to be used as a spring tonic and a diuretic. The leaves contain arbutin, a powerful astringent, which can have an antiseptic effect on the urinary tract and is very effective in treating kidney and bladder infections. Read More….



Lady Fern

Lady Fern is a deciduous, perennial fern about 60 to 90 cm tall. Native Americans had many uses for Lady ferns. They used lady ferns for drying berries on and covering food. The young shoots, or the fiddleheads, were cooked, baked, or eaten raw. Tea was made from the leaves to help urination and to stop breast pain caused by childbirth. The tea was also used to ease labor pains. Roots were dried and ground into dust to help heal wounds. Read More….



Maidenhair Fern

The maidenhair fern has a long history of medicinal use and was the main ingredient of a popular cough syrup which remained in use until the nineteenth century but the plant is little used in modern medicine. The fresh or dried leafy fronds can be used as an anti-dandruff medicine. A tea or syrup is used in the treatment of coughs, throat afflictions, and bronchitis. It is also used as a detoxicant in alcoholism and to treat worms. Read More….



Oregon Grape

Oregon Grape is native to the Pacific Northwest and can be found on all of the coast.  To make tea, simmer a small amount of dried, coarsely chopped root in 1 cup of water for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain out the leftover root. The tea has been used in the treatment of liver and kidney troubles, rheumatism, arthritis, hepatitis, jaundice, syphilis, anemia, constipation,  and uterine diseases. Dried root mixed with rubbing alcohol can be used externally to treat skin diseases such as eczema, acne, herpes, and psoriasis. Read More….




There are several types of Plantain that grow on the coast of BC. I have used it on bee stings since I was a little boy. It draws the poison right out when you rub fresh plantain leaves on a string.  Plantain is effective as a detoxifier for the body and is a remedy for colds, flu, coughs, congestion, bronchitis, hoarseness, fevers, sinusitis, ulcers, irritable bowel, diarrhea, intestinal complaints, kidney stones, hay fever, asthma, emphysema, and as a blood sugar stabilizer for diabetics. Read More….



Self Heal

Self-heal grows on all of the BC Coast. This plant is known as a heal-all and cure-all plant. It is related to the mint plant and like the other mints, once you plant it, you never have to plant it again. The plant spreads by underground stems that spread in every direction. It has a widespread reputation for keeping people well during an outbreak of infectious disease. This is one of those plants you should ingest on a steady basis. Read More….




The Silverweed plant is native to the Pacific Northwest and thrives in many areas on Vancouver Island.  The leaves were used to soothe aching feet. Silverweed was made into a tea-like infusion and used to cure menstrual cramps and indigestion and if honey is added it can be used as a gargle for the easing of sore throats. The silverweed has also been used to treat mouth ulcers, toothache, jaundice and stomach problems, piles, eye inflammation, and many more medicinal uses.  Read More….



Sitka Mountain Ash

An infusion of Sitka Mountain Ash can be given to young children with bedwetting problems as treatment of weak kidneys in order to stop frequent urination. An infusion of the root and branch bark has been drunk in the treatment of stomach problems and rheumatism it can also be used externally as a bath for treating rheumatism. A concoction of the root and branch bark makes a soothing eyewash. The bark can be chewed as a treatment for colds. Read More….



Skunk Cabbage

The roots of the skunk cabbage plant have been used to treat respiratory ailments, including hay fever, asthma, whooping cough, bronchial problems, and mucous congestion. It is helpful for nervous disorders, spasmodic problems, rheumatism, and dropsy. Some first people boiled the root hairs to make a wash for stopping external bleeding.  Read More….



Spruce Bark and Cones

Spruce Bark, Cones are used to make a tea that relieves colds, the cones produce the best medicine, cones are picked year-round from the tops of young trees. Usually, about 15 cones are boiled for 10 to 15 minutes in a pot of water. The longer they boil, the stronger the medicine becomes, strain the liquid before drinking it. Spruce tea relieves coughing and sore throats and stuffed chests. Those who are sick with colds can take it three or four times a day for five days. Read More….



Stinging Nettle

Stinging Nettle has been used for hundreds of years to treat painful muscles and joints, eczema, arthritis, gout, and anemia. Today, many people use it to treat urinary problems during the early stages of an enlarged prostate, for urinary tract infections, for hay fever, or in compresses and creams for treating joint pain, sprains and strains, tendonitis, and insect bites. Read More….



Tall Oregon Grape

Good autumn leaf color, abundant clusters of yellow flowers, and dark blue edible fruits have made this handsome, spiny leaved evergreen shrub a widely promoted ornamental, especially in the American West. Less well known are its coloring and medicinal properties, which have long been used by the first peoples. First Peoples knew tall Oregon-grape well. They ate the fresh berries and on the BC coast used them as an antidote to shellfish poisoning. Read More….



Western Red Cedar

The Western Red Cedar is a large tree, up to 60 meters tall when mature, with drooping branches and the trunk often spreading out widely at the base. You can make a poultice of boughs to treat rheumatism, or bronchitis, make a poultice of oil from inner bark to treat skin diseases, including topical fungal infections and warts or use shredded bark to cauterize and bind wounds. Read More….



Wild Carrot

The Wild Carrot Plant is also known as Queens Anne Lace. Tea made from the root of Queen Anne’s Lace has been used as a diuretic to prevent and eliminate kidney stones and to rid individuals of worms. Its seeds have been used for centuries as a contraceptive, a teaspoon of seeds are thoroughly chewed, swallowed, and washed down with water or juice on a daily basis, starting just before ovulation, during ovulation, and for one week thereafter. Read More….



Wild Ginger

Wild Ginger contains the constituent aristolochic acid which is a naturally occurring toxin that is suspected of causing cancer, human cell mutations, and end-stage kidney failure. Take caution with this plant. I would suggest not using this plant internally. Read More….




The Willow is classed as a small tree or shrub. These trees can be found growing on all of Vancouver Island. Its most active growth period is in the spring and summer. Leaves fall year to year. The tree is the source of the natural precursor to aspirin, salicylic acid, found in leaves and bark. The bark can be pounded and applied to wounds as a healing agent. Read More….

Herb Robert, Vancouver Island, BC
Herb Robert, Vancouver Island, BC

Natural medicine is no longer a back-to-nature fad but a real down-to-earth philosophy. A need for more natural healing is like something new to us but in reality, we have always relied on plants for medicine. From time immemorial, man has used plants to treat illness and relieve pain. Over half of the medicines, doctors prescribe today are derived from members of the plant kingdom.

Over the ages, many magical and mystical powers were ascribed to plants as medicine. Sometimes their abilities to heal were thought to be magical and their healing qualities were feared by some groups like the church. Many people were put to death for their understanding of these healing abilities.

But today we understand the chemical and physical qualities that account for the healing properties of these plants. Yet plants still process a magical quality, just look at the beauty and vast variety of their form. There are many great medicinal plants on Vancouver Island.

Would you buy us a coffee?

3 thoughts on “Medicinal Plants”

  1. Hi – just a quick note to thank you for compiling this list of local plants – as a trained herbalist I find it is difficult to find accurate information on this field of work, especially the local legends and uses of the plants medicinally. I especially enjoyed reading about the Devil”s Club and when to harvest – wondering if you would be open to sharing more of these anecdotes with me?

  2. Hi Gohiking,
    it is looks beautiful and imprresive to your work.
    If possible.some day,would like to your wild medicine hern watching hiking with my friends.

    yours faithfully


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

error: Content is protected !!