Medicinal Balsamroot Cough Syrup and Tincture


Field of Arrowleaf Balsamroot

Field of arrowleaf balsamroot
Photo by Lindsay Dawson Mynatt

The hillsides are blanketed with arrowleaf balsamroot, signifying the fullness of spring in the Central region of the Pacific Northwest. The indigenous Wenatchi Tribes calendar was based on a seasonal cycle with this native sunflower, Smokakhin, first appearing in March. Balsamroot was a significant source of food and medicine for the Wenatchi. All parts of the plant are edible and useful. The tender shoots and early leaves were collected as early spring greens and seeds were pounded into meal. The large arrow shaped leaves were used as poultices for burns. The long taproot, was used medicinally to support the respiratory system, as an ointment to treat wounds and blisters, and for relief of body aches and pain.

How to Harvest 

Balsamroot plants take years to mature and should be harvested selectively and mindfully. Smaller less developed roots from singular stand-alone flowers are preferred over clumps with thicker roots. The expansive root system of these plants help prevent soil erosion so be attentive to harvesting locations, staying away from steep embankments.

Arrowleaf Balsamroot

Arrowleaf balsamroot
Photo by Lindsay Dawson Mynatt

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