Many people love blackberries, especially when baked into a pie, cobbler, or made into jam, but the blackberry also has some very good medicinal properties that have been utilized for a very long time. This is a tremendously healthful plant.
Blackberries grow in profusion in many countries of the world, so they are widely available, which increases their value as a health and medicinal plant. They are common over much of Europe, England, and Australia, as well as in the US and Canada. They are sometimes called brambles, and raspberries are a certain species of blackberry.
Blackberries are so common that nearly everyone knows what the plants look like and can identify them when they are growing in the wild.
Blackberries and health
The ripe berries contain large quantities of fructose sugars, citric acid (vitamin C), and are high in vitamin K. They also contain salicylate, which is an analgesic or pain reliever, and which may help lower the risk of heart diseases. Salicylate is the natural basis for aspirin, only without all the side effects.
Additionally, the juice contains several anti-oxidants which continuing research indicates is helpful for preventing or lowering the incidence of many diseases, including cancer. This means that blackberries are useful for preventing and fighting cancer.
Note that cooking can break down some of these healthful ingredients, so the ripe berries eaten raw are far better for you than the berries that are cooked into pies or which are processed in other ways.
Also, the fruit is high in pectin, so it has the practical benefit of helping jam to set.
As good as they are, and as wonderful as they taste, the berries are not the only healthful and medicinal portions of the blackberry plant.
The leaves, outer layers of the stem, and the roots are also used medicinally and have health properties. All of these contain large quantities of tannic acid, which is a strong astringent. For this reason, a dilute tea can be made out of the leaves, roots, or stem bark for treating diarrhea or dysentery. A tea made from the dried roots can be used for the same purpose, but it will have a stronger action. The tea is also sometimes taken as a tonic.
The roots and the leaves can be dried for use medicinally, or they can be used fresh. To dry, spread on screen in a warm dry room out of direct sunlight. The leaves should be stored in airtight containers, and as with nearly all herbs, their potency will be retained longer if they are kept in a cool, dry, dark place.
Making blackberry tea
For the blackberry tea, put 2 tablespoons of the blackberry leaves or chopped root in a cup of boiling water, cover for 15 minutes, then sweeten with honey. The dose is 1/2 cup every 2 or 3 hours for diarrhea. It should be noted that the tea is both tart and mildly bitter.
Making simple blackberry jam
To make the jam, you simply need 2 cups of ripe blackberries, 2 cups of sugar, and 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice.
Put these ingredients into a blender, making sure the berries are rinsed well first, and blend for about a minute, to mix the ingredients and to pulverize the berries. Pour this into a pot and heat to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. This should only take a few minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to cook for another 15 minutes, stirring frequently. If a froth forms on the top of the jelly, scoop it off and discard it. Pour the jelly into a jar and allow it to cool to room temperature and then refrigerate it. The jam thickens as it gets cooler.
Blackberries are well known for their delicious taste, but they are very good plants for health and medicinal treatment. They have a definite place in the herbalist’s medicine cabinet. As easy as the leaves are to pick, this is a worthwhile herb to collect.
Next time you are out blackberry picking, be sure to pick a few handfuls of leaves as well.