Well-being with weeds! – Donegal event hears how weeds can manage arthritis, stress and heart problems

ICE-cream with elderflowers and meadowsweet, butter with thyme and calendula flowers and pesto with dandelions and sorrel – such creative foods were presented this week at an event highlighting health benefits from plants growing throughout Donegal.

Organised at Anamcara Healing Herbs Garden ( in Brinlack, developed by Transylvanian-born herbalist Columbia Hillen, the event focused on how plants, many considered weeds and thriving in the wild, can be incorporated into simple meals to help manage conditions such as arthritis, stress and heart problems.

“It’s empowering for people to learn more about the nutritional and healing qualities of wild herbs growing in the fields around them and in their gardens,” said Columbia, who studied at The Plant Medicine School in Wexford.
“Using herbs in our everyday life supports our overall physical and mental well-being.”


Carlow-based Jacquie Burgess, herbalist and author of ‘Healing with Crystals,’ said, “This is my first time in Gweedore and I’m amazed by the healthy energy and sheer diversity of flora in this region, such an abundance of uncontaminated wild plants. It’s a wonderful place to reclaim our native plant wisdom, to learn about their vital nutritious and therapeutic properties. The event was a wonderful practical introduction to the delicious and nutritious plants she loves so well. Her enthusiasm and creativity are inspiring.”

Columbia spoke about how plants have been used as cures for centuries. “Plantain helps heal wounds, insect bites and eases sore throats and joint and muscle pain. Chickweed reduces fluid retention and eases skin problems such as eczema and psoriasis and also supports liver function. Ordinary nettles have been used for hay fever, kidney, arthritis and anaemia. Oxeye daisies are good for coughs, bruises and sore eyes.”

Kathleen Langan, master medical herbalist, iridologist and nutritionist in Creeslough, said: “Sadly, many people eat mainly on processed foods, which can cause chronic disease. Now, more than ever, it’s important we return to Nature and incorporate more herbs and wild plants in our diets to access their health benefits.

“Education is very important in this respect and Columbia did a great job raising awareness. Participants were pleasantly surprised by the way she incorporated various herbs into foods.”

Having created Anamcara Healing Herbs Garden three years ago, Columbia plans to host more events in the future.

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