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Labrador Tea: so many uses

Walk on the Wild Side
Walk on the Wild Side - SaltWire Network

Most of us folks from Labrador are familiar with Labrador Tea. Anyone among us who have spent any time in the country at all, knows what it looks like and agree that it is found in abundance throughout many of the areas that we find ourselves in.

Labrador Tea is named after the swamps of Greenland and Labrador where it grows in profusion. It is assumed that the name is probably derived from the early years of the Hudson Bay traders who sold the harvested leaves for tea.

Prior to that, it is believed that Indigenous people used it regularly for medicinal purposes. Many Indigenous people picked the leaves early in the season before the plants flowered or waited until late in the summer, and then dried them and boiled the leaves for tea.

During the American Revolution, the tea was one of several herbs used as a combination mix to create a pleasant tasting substitute for commercial tea. In Germany it was often added to beer recipes. It was thought it would give the beer a more potent kick.

Labrador Tea
Labrador Tea

Labrador Tea has been used for generations by the Indigenous peoples of North America as well as in the northern parts of Europe where it also grows.

The leaves have historically been used as heart medicine and for indigestion, and diarrhea. Other ailments such as insect bites and stings, acne, asthma, gout, and rheumatism have all been included on the list of ailments that Labrador tea has been claimed to have helped, in easing the symptoms.

Another use of Labrador Tea has been to apply it to skin sores and eczema to help relieve itching symptoms. Old stories also suggest that if a strong enough batch was made, it could be used in application to the hair to kill lice. This tea is also supposed to have high content of Vitamin C and was used for severe cases of scurvy. Whether this is fact or folklore, it has certainly been used for many medicinal applications in days gone by.

There is no clinical evidence to support specific dose recommendations for Labrador Tea but it is indicated that concentrated consumption should not be too high. If Labrador Tea is consumed, it is clearly indicated that it is done in small doses with weak concentrations on an intermittent basis.

There is very little doubt that we are surrounded by this plant throughout a lot of Labrador. It can be found inside the green woods, out on the bogs and across the burned over areas. We are heading right into the time of the season when these plants are coming into full blossom. Whether or not there are many among us who actually use this plant in a consumptive way, it doesn’t matter at all.

It is suggested however that they are a rather sensitive plant. For this reason, if in fact you are going to harvest some leaves, do so with care. Only harvest a few leaves from each plant, The tea will grow back with time, but at a very slow rate.

Whether you are some of the few who do harvest a bit of Labrador Tea or are like most folks who don’t, there is little doubt of the beauty of the sea of snow white blossoms we see across the land during this time of year.

This is another one of the spectacles of Labrador’s raw and untamed beauty that we ought not to miss.

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