Lambs Quarters is an herb that is bountiful in its use to help maintain health. This precious herb is cultivated in Mexico and Northern India as a commercial food crop. In the United States, lambs quarters is often thought of as a common weed and treated as so by many gardeners. This, however, does not take away from its nutritional value and usefulness.
Lambs quarters is sometimes referred to as goosefoot because of the shape of its leaves. Other less common names include Fat Hen, Pigweed, Bathua, Paruppukkirai, Chandanbethu, Vastukah, Kadduoma, Vastuccira, Pappukura and Chakvit.
It grows wild and in abundance on roadsides, in ditches or anywhere the soil has been disturbed. It tends to grow upright at first, and can reach heights of heights of 4 – 60 inches (10–150 cm ). Its botanical family includes quinoa, spinach, red beets, sugar beets, and Swiss chard. It is considered to be an excellent substitute for spinach in recipes.
The leaf is the portion used from this plant. It can be prepared and eaten like any other greens with meals or in salads. It can be used in lasagna or other pasta dishes like spinach. Also, use it to stuff mushrooms or add to flavorful pies or omelets. It may also be combined with potatoes to make a lovely vegetable dish. Imagination is the key with this tasty herb.
It is a great source of vitamin C, vitamin A, phosphorus, and calcium, and a very good source of protein, thiamin, riboflavin, folic acid, niacin, and iron.
As well as being used for food, lambs quarter is used for medicinal purposes. It can be utilized for both internal and external remedies.
Internally – Lamb’s quarter is eaten to alleviate and decrease stomach aches, coughs and to help prevent scurvy. In some areas of the world it is also used to treat asthma, bronchitis, gout, hemorrhoids, and menstrual problems. A cold herbal tea made from the leaves can be used to treat diarrhea. To make an herbal tea, add 1 teaspoon of dried herb to 1 cup of boiling water. Do not boil the herb. Pour the boiling water over the dry herb and let it steep for at least 10 minutes, then strain and drink as needed. Externally – Lamb’s quarter leaves can be used as a poultice to treat burns and swellings, and can also relieve itching. In order to make a poultice, take the fresh herb and mash it before applying it to the injured or affected area.
Lambs quarter contains a fair amount of oxalic acid, so don’t eat excessive portions at one time, especially raw. Do not eat this herb in the case of kidney problems, because the crystals of oxalic acid can irritate weakened kidneys.
“Back to Eden”, by Jethro Kloss; Back to Eden Publishing Co., Loma Linda, CA 92354
Flowers of India: http://www.flowersofindia.net/catalog/slides/Bathua.html
Medicinal Herb Info: http://medicinalherbinfo.org/herbs/LambsQuarters.html