Five Medicinal Maine-Grown Products
Maine is lucky to host a unique and abundant assortment of delicious, nutritious plants and herbs. From season to season, it brings forth a variety of native vegetation that, in many cases, only requires a step outside into your own backyard or a trip to your local store to procure. Here is a list of five medicinal Maine-grown plants, herbs and vegetables that are easy to get or grow, and offer proven benefits to your health and wellbeing.
1. Wild Blueberries
Maine’s official state fruit had to make the list! Research shows that wild blueberries (also called low-bush blueberries) are jam-packed (see what we did there?) with antioxidants and phytochemicals, particularly one called anthocyanin, which helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, death, and Type 2 diabetes. They also help maintain a healthy weight and reduce inflammation in the body. It’s widely agreed that the regular consumption of these “super fruits” is great for your health.
Where can you find wild blueberries? You guessed it. In the wild. These hardy, tiny blueberries thrive in challenging seasons and in glacier-churned soil. Most of Maine’s wild-blueberry harvesting is done by commercial operations, such as Wyman’s in Milbridge, but many farms, such as Alexander’s Wild Maine Blueberries in Greenfield or Beddington Ridge Farm in Beddington let you rake in your own during the peak season of July through September.
The potato is northern Maine’s primary agricultural product. According to Maine Potatoes, one medium-sized potato has only 100 calories and is made up of about 80 percent water. It also contains 45 percent of your daily recommended vitamin C and 21 percent of daily potassium. Potatoes are packed with antioxidants linked to reducing the risk of cancer, as well as vitamin B6 and fiber, which are found mainly in the potato’s skin.
If you’re looking for farm fresh potatoes, the Maine Potato Board has a long list of growers across Maine, including Davis Egg Farm in Newport, Green Thumb Farms in Fryeburg and Northeast Potato Distributors in Littleton. Trying to grow your own? You can pick up seeds and gardening tips at Johnny’s Selected Seeds in Winslow, ME.
Sassafras is a native woodland tree that grows year-round and makes a fragrant and potent addition to your home garden. It smells a bit like root beer, cinnamon and citrus, so steep it in a killer cup of tea. Its reported health benefits include improved urinary tract health, circulation, digestion and immune health. It even reduces the symptoms of arthritis and gout. Where can you find this powerful and pungent herb? Sassafrass is indigenous primarily to southern Maine, but you can grow your own from freshly collected seeds. Learn more about how from the Wild Seed Project in Portland.
4. Shagbark hickory
Shagbark hickory, a member of the walnut family, is found across southern Maine. It’s a shaggy looking tree with a dark charcoal bark that lives for upwards of 200-to-300 years, producing nuts with health benefits that include increased circulation, heart protection, a boost in metabolism, lowered cholesterol, improved digestion, and even bone growth from its dense supply of magnesium.
While locating shagbark hickory in the wild might require a trip to southern Maine, you can find their ripe nuts ready to pick in September, at a local farmer’s market, (a list of which can be found at mainefarmersmarkets.org) or by planting your own and watching a new tree grow. Learn more about how from the Wild Seed Project.
5. Locally Grown Hemp and CBD Oil
Maine is home to more than 2,000 acres of farmed hemp and 170 hemp growers. Cannabidiol, also known as CBD oil, is a chemical that’s extracted from the cannabis plant and used in a wide variety of ways, both topically (in creams) and through ingestion (edibles). CBD products sold in Maine must be made with locally grown hemp. Some of the benefits of CBD oil include pain relief, anxiety and depression reduction, nausea alleviation, acne treatment, a boost in heart health and even diabetes prevention.
Wondering where to get your hands on Maine-grown hemp or CBD oil? According to Best CBD oils in Maine.org., some of the top places to buy CBD oil in Maine include Not Another Glass Shop in Brunswick, Remedy Compassion Center in Auburn, Empire Vape Shop in Waterville and East Coast CBD in Unity.
We’re Wild About Maine’s Bounty
Whether it’s those tiny little blueberries packed with health-boosting nutrients or the shagbark hickory trees that stand to outlive us all, you don’t have to look very far to find foods and remedies to help you stay healthy and happy. With a little bit of research and the right grower, Maine makes it easy for you to experience nature’s bounty at its finest.
— Text: LeeMarie Kennedy. LeeMarie is a multi-niche copywriter, editor and content marketing creator in Boston, Massachusetts. When she’s not meticulously wordsmithing or brainstorming a trending topic, she can be found teaching yoga, wandering the world, drinking fair trade coffee or eating too much cheese.