Foraging for Wild Medicines: Hairy Clematis
Hairy Clematis (Clematis Hirsutissima) Flowers
This is another bell-like flower but much larger than the Mountain Bluebells we had talked about in my other article. Plus these flowers, leaves, and stems are heavily covered in trichomes (tiny hairs), as you can see in the image above. These flowers usually measure about 2-3 cm long and most have 4 sepals (petals) but sometimes you can find ones with 5. These sepals usually will elegantly curve out and upwards. They are a deep vibrant purple-blue color and hard to miss against the green background.
There haven't been any reports of Hairy Clematis being toxic, but it's in the buttercup family which has been known to be toxic to livestock when eaten in high amounts. Causing salivation, vomiting, and diarrhea. Plants from this family contain two chemicals called Aneminin and Glycoside which can cause pain in the mouth if eaten and can also irritate the skin. These chemicals can be dissipated using heat or drying, making it more usable for its medicinal properties. I still wouldn't recommend ingesting it and only using it topically.
Hairy Clematis (Clematis Hirsutissima) Leaves and Root
I haven't found much information about using the flowers medicinally, but the leaves have always traditionally been used to treat headaches (I have a few recipes bellow of remedies you can try). But how do you identify the correct plant? As we had talked about before, the stem is heavily covered in trichomes (tiny hairs) with opposite toothed leaves, which are less hairy. These leaves can be harvested and dried, made into an infusion, or tinctured.
The root has been used to treat painful sinus infections and congestion. A tincture has been used in China to treat arthritis with extremely promising results. Once again, you will want to either dry or heat this herb to dissipate the chemicals, Glycoside and Aneminin, to make it so it won't irritate your skin.
Hairy Clematis (Clematis Hirsutissima) Seeds
The seeds of the Hairy Clematis plant don't have a history for medicine, but for survival. It's said that you can use the seed floss as a type of insulation, like in shoes. They've also been used as fire starters for centuries. I don't have any photos of them yet, but this coming summer I will be experimenting with this idea and will update this article with images, video, and more information from first hand experience.
Treat painful sinus infections and congestion, relieve arthritis pain
Used as insulation and tender (fire starter)
Hairy Clematis Tincture
Used for centuries to treat painful sinus infection and congestion. Recent studies show promising results in using for treatment of arthritic pain.
Takes about 5 minutes to prepare and 6 weeks of sitting undisturbed.
- 16 oz Pint Jar
- Small, Dark, Glass Bottles, Tight-Fitting Lids
- Fine Strainer
- Fine Cheesecloth/Muslin
- Bowl or Glass Measuring Cup
- Small Funnel
- High-Proof Alcohol (at least 80 proof/40%)
- Alternative to alcohol: Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
- Hairy Clematis Root, Fresh or Dried
- Mortar and Pestle
- Have enough Hairy Clematis root to loosely fill you jar about 3/4 full. I would recommend you wash and then place your roots in boiling water for about 3 minutes before using to dissipate the irritating chemicals naturally found in Hairy Clematis. Or if you're using dried root have enough to fill jar half way and skip this step.
- If using fresh Hairy Clematis Root chop finely. Then bruise slightly in Mortar and Pestle.
- Add root to jar. If using fresh root, fill jar with alcohol to the mouth so no root can be exposed to air. If using dried root, fill about a 1/2 inch above roots to allow for expansion. Keep a close eye on it for the next few days and add alcohol as needed to keep roots submerged.
- Label and date jars, then let them steep in a cool, dark place.
- For the first week shake the jar every day to help make sure all the root pieces are properly exposed to the alcohol.
- After the first week let it sit another 5 week in the dark, cool place undisturbed.
- After it has steeped the proper amount of time, line your fine-mesh strainer with cheesecloth or muslin and hold over bowl or measuring cup so you can catch all the liquid as you strain it. Press on herbs to insure you get as much tincture out as possible. You can even pull up the sides of the cloth and twist it to squeeze every last drop out.
- Using funnel transfer your freshly strained tincture into your smaller dark bottles and secure lids tightly. Remember to label and date your bottles!
- Apply 1-2 times a day to skin of affected area.
When stored in a dark cool place tinctures can stay good for anywhere from 7-10 years. Just make sure each bottle is labeled and dated correctly before storing.
Treating Sinus Pain and Headaches
Since it's not recommended to ingest Hairy Clematis, when treating sinus pain and headaches you want to breath in the steam. To do this you bring a pot of water to a boil. While you're waiting, clean and cut your Hairy Clematis root up into small pieces. You can even slightly bruise them in a mortar and pestle to bring more of the properties out.
As soon as your water is beginning to boil, remove it from the heat and add your root. Place a towel over your head to trap the steam as you lean over your pot. Take deep breaths for anywhere from 7-10 minutes. Do this 2 times a day until pain has subsided.
© 2018 Beth Deveraux