The sunflower is TRULY an AMAZING plant.

The sunflower (Helianthus Annuss) was an important part of the American Indian culture. The sunflower was a very important food source. The seeds were eaten as snacks, ground to into flour, and squeezed into oil. The flour and oil was used to make cakes and breads. The sunflower also was used as a plant medicine. The flower heads were used to make teas for pulmonary conditions, fevers and malaria.  The leaf and flower were used to make poultices for skin conditions or burns, and the roots were chewed and applied to snake or spider bites.

The sunflower was thought to provoke courage and protection. Sunflower cakes were sent with soldiers as they prepared for battle. Sunflower flour was also used as an offering during ceremonies and sunflower doll is an important icon for the natives, as they represent the gratitude for this plant.

The sunflower is a hearty plant. It is easy to grow and usually reseeds each year. I encourage you to plant the sunflower in your yard or garden and learn about the many ways you can use the sunflower!

The sunflower seeds can be eaten raw, they can be sprouted, or roasted. The are very nutritious and provide an excellent source of protein, healthy fats, calcium, iron, vitamin c, copper, manganese, and pantothenate (B5).  The seeds can be ground into a butter, similar to peanut or almond, which are usually hypoallergenic and therefore a good alternative for kids with peanut allergies. You can easily find sun butter at any health food store.

You can use sunflower flour as an alternative to regular wheat based flours and the oil is a good high-heat oil that also provides a grain-free alternative.

Add these beautiful petals to any salad for a special treat, as they are also edible and provide extra vitamin c. The petals can be dried and brewed into a tea for fevers or deep coughs. Boil the stems, leaves and flowers to make a soak that will soothe aches, pains and arthritis! The sunflower will also sweeten your romantic connections, as it is a powerful APHRODISIAC!

The sunflower is used to make flower essences. This can easily been done at home or you can purchase commercially produced versions. Flower essences are similar to homeopathy as they contain the essence or energy of the plant. This is one of my favorite flower essences and I use it often. The sunflower is associated with the 3rd chakra, our solar plexus or power center. It helps to empower and bring fourth courage! I recently gave it to my kids for their first few days of school and I usually use it on days where I am speaking in front of groups or when know that it is going to be a challenging.

Ahh... the amazing sunflower. Hope you get to know her.

By Erica Campbell, ND