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Understanding local weeds and their medicinal benefits

By Pat Collins
from Total Health and Education Centre (T.H.E Centre)

As part of International Women’s Day 2022 which is themed “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow” we spoke to ATMS Practitioner of the Year for 2021, Patricia Collins from T.H.E. Centre in Muswellbrook.

Pat is an experienced herbalist taking an integrated approach to client care and is passionate about using natural resources for health and wellbeing to promote a more sustainable approach to health care.

What are the local weeds that you can use medicinally?

I use St John’s wort, Nettles, Dandelion leaf, Clivers, Chickweed, Plantain, Purslane and many more which can practically be found anywhere.

How do you use these weeds?

St John’s wort

I dry it for tea and capsules, make it into tincture, make infused oil from the flowers and use it in ointments and creams. This is a great pain reliever and it’s very good for the nervous system.


I juice and preserve it and make it into nettle hair conditioner (high in silica so it strengthens hair follicles). I also dry it for tea and capsules as it is such a good tonic, plus I make it into an ointment as it is good for skin problems.

Both of these are favourites and I use them all the time as they have so many uses.

The other plants I use for the following:

  • Dandelion leaf for urinary system
  • Clivers for the lymphatic and urinary systems
  • Chickweed and Purslane mainly in ointments and creams for hot, itchy skin problems
  • Plantain has a variety of uses; I use it topically as it’s good for skin conditions, but internally for respiratory and lymphatic systems.

How do you believe natural therapies can support a more sustainable approach to health care and climate change adaptation?

I love using and teaching people about useful weeds as they often grow in abundance and are usually eradicated with toxic herbicides. Weeds will grow in the most suitable spots for their needs. At the same time, they will enhance the environments they grow in; for example, nettles put nitrogen in the soil, dandelions open up the soil for worms etc. Not all weeds are useful but understanding why plants grow in certain areas will broaden your horizons and help you to understand their usefulness in our changing environment.

We need to learn to use more of our local plants instead of importing them from overseas for a more sustainable future.

I believe an understanding of plants and their uses with a more natural approach to health care is the only way forward. So many people have moved away from nature and natural therapies, and as can be seen by our chronic health conditions, there has to be another way.

We live in a changing world and sustainable practices are now more important than ever.

Find out more about how Western Herbal Medicine can support your Health and Wellbeing.

Read more about Pat and why she is the ATMS Practitioner of the Year 2021 here. 

Join us for Natural Medicine Week. 

More about the author

Pat Collins
– Total Health and Education Centre (T.H.E Centre)

Pat Collins owns Total Health and Education Centre with her husband in Muswellbrook NSW. Pat is an experienced Herbalist and manufactures her own line of Herbal products. Pat has authored several books, produced a DVD and she also teaches Herbal Manufacturing at the ATWEA College in Newcastle.

Pat takes an integrated approach to care utilising Iridology, Nutrition, Herbal medicine Reflexology, Clinical hypnosis, Bush Flower remedies and many others. She believes treating the whole person is key to successful care.