Ingredient of the Month: Fireweed

Fireweed – also called willowherb – is a North American wildflower found in every Canadian province and across the northern United States. After a forest fire or volcanic eruption, fireweed is one of the first plants to grow and bloom out of the scorched earth.

It’s an adaptable plant, often growing in tough areas like avalanche paths and swamps. For generations, people have used fireweed for medicinal applications, food sources, dietary supplements, and skincare.

Kimberly Parry Organics utilizes the natural botanical power of fireweed in the Seorganics Exfoliating Mask with Fireweed and Kelp.

Fireweed Traditional Uses

Fireweed plants are useful at each stage of growth, from the new chutes that thrive in barren environments to the mature plant once it’s gone to seed.

Young chutes, leaves, and flower buds are edible. Chutes especially are packed with Vitamin C, and they can be eaten raw, sauteed, or steamed – their preparation is similar to asparagus. In older plants, the stems are still edible, though the tough outer skin is usually peeled, and there tends to be more mucilage. Some people love it. Others, not so much. Fireweed stalks and chutes are sometimes used as thickeners for soup in the same way that okra is used to thicken gumbo.

When dried, the leaves are used to make a fragrant herbal tea. That tea has a calming effect on the digestive system, so it’s used both as a medicine and as a delicious beverage.

As the plant matures, poultices and ointments made from the leaves and roots are used for wound treatment and various skin benefits.

Once the plant reaches full maturity, the fibrous seeds are sometimes used as fire starters, incorporated into textiles, and used as a natural stuffing similar to cotton wadding. Every part of the plant has a practical use.

Fireweed for Digestive Health

Fireweed is used in a variety of applications that help balance the digestive system, soothe bowel irritation, and promote a healthy microbiome by restoring intestiflora to the correct balance. It can even serve as a gentle laxative if it’s prepared appropriately.

With natural antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties, eating or drinking fireweed eases stomach discomfort and helps restore digestive health.

In areas where fireweed grows wild in North America, indigenous people have been using fireweed medicinally for generations. Kimberly Parry Organics continues that tradition by utilizing fireweed’s powerful natural benefits for skin.

Fireweed for Skin Health

Traditionally, ointments and salves made from fireweed have been used to treat burns, ulcers, rashes, and other skin irritations.

Once, people made a poultice from peeled fireweed roots to soothe and heal painful skin problems like sores, boils, and swelling. An ointments made from the leaves was made to treat and calm other skin problems like acne.

These treatments work well because some of the natural compounds found in fireweed mimic the effects of hydrocortisone, a common ingredient in over-the-counter acne treatments, to calm and cleanse the skin. By fighting the microbes that cause blemishes and soothing all types of skin irritation, fireweed is an effective way to relieve a wide variety of skin afflictions.

Fireweed contains a bioactive molecule called oenothein-B, which has impressive anti-inflammatory powers without any of the side effects involved with using steroids to reduce inflammation. Oenothein-B is also a potent antioxidant that attacks free radicals. This organic compound has been shown to be anti-metastatic – it fights tumor growth and promotes healing at a cellular level.

It’s a powerful plant, isn’t it?

Just as fireweed is seen as a sign of renewal in areas destroyed by fire and disaster, it’s an ingredient that helps bring about a renewal of your health.

Kimberly Parry