Nature Is My Healer section, November 2019 stories: Yellow Dock, Acorns, Ginger Tea

In the Nature Is My Healer section, Upstate Natural Awakenings will introduce you to the many nature-based healing options available to you. This section is meant to be an educational tool for you, our readers. Each month we will highlight plant-based health and natural remedies along with information on their history, uses and benefits.

Yellow dock (Rumex crispus)

This is a prolific weed of fields and gardens. According to well-known herbologist Rosemary Gladstar, it is one of the best herbs for the digestive system: “The large taproot is rich in anthraquinone, which has a laxative action. It contains biochelated iron, which can be readily absorbed.” For men and women with hormone imbalances and those with anemia, it is one of the best sources of iron. Yellow dock is quite bitter as a decoction and adding an iron-rich sweetener like blackstrap molasses can help with the taste, as well as adding some more flavorful herbs.

Acorns (Quercus sp.)

Acorns are an abundant food source that has been feeding people for millennia. White oak (Quercus alba) acorns have less tannins and can be processed for food easier than the red oak varieties. According to, an ounce of dried acorns provides 140 calories, 8g of good fat, 15g carbohydrates and 2g protein. When acorns are boiled, the tannins leach into the water. The first ‘boil water’ is great as an astringent antiseptic for wounds and poison ivy, and as a gargle for sore throats. Cooled, it is soothing for hemorrhoids: soak a washcloth in it and place between the “cheeks” to shrink the swelling.

Ginger Tea

Ginger is well-known for its excellent digestive and anti-inflammatory properties. This makes it beneficial for many chronic inflammatory diseases, including cancer. In 2012, research published in the British Journal of Nutrition demonstrated the in-vitro and in-vivo anticancer activity of ginger, suggesting that it may be effective in the management of prostate cancer.

Because ginger helps prevent the toxic effects of many substances including cancer drugs, it may be useful to take in addition to conventional cancer treatments.

Ginger tea is easy to make and delicious. A side benefit is that you can make more over and over, leaving the herbs in the pot and just adding more water. You can add a little more licorice root to the pot for sweetener from time to time, especially if you will be serving it to little ones. Fresh ginger is needed: about a hand-sized root or pieces. Slice in ¼ inch rounds—no need to peel. Add 4 finger pinches of clove and cardamom, 2 to 3 cinnamon sticks and a handful of licorice root. Put in a 4 quart saucepan and add water to an inch from the top. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Put on a lid, let sit for 10 minutes and you are ready to go.

Unless otherwise noted, the information in the Nature Is My Healer section is provided by June Ellen Bradley. As an herbalist, JE’s expertise extends from discovering plant-medicines in Ecuador to guiding Polk County, NC’s Agricultural Economic Development. She is the founder and leader of the Whole Health Nation forum, helping to expand personal choices and support local health opportunities. For more information, including questions about the Whole Health Nation festival, visit or call 828-899-2787. See the November 2019 Whole Health Nation news brief here.