Originally published on Herbal Medicine from Your Garden
Ramsons (always in the plural, presumably because of its invasive tendencies), Allium ursinum, also known as wild garlic, bear’s garlic and stinkin’ ingins (a Scots’ name meaning stinking onions), is a common sight in damp woodlands, where it carpets the ground if left to its own devices. When not in flower, it’s sometimes confused with lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis), which is poisonous, but easily distinguished by the strong garlicky scent which arises if you crush one of ramsons’ leaves. It is a useful addition to the salad bowl and for use in soups during the winter, and dormant in the summer months.
Ramsons is quite closely related to the cultivated garlic (even though they are completely different in appearance), and is a member of the onion family, all of which are well known for their health-giving properties.
The most important active constituent is not destroyed by conventional cooking but does not survive microwave cooking.
The juice can be used as a rub to treat joint pain, and can also apparently be used to aid weight loss, although how it is utilized for this purpose is not clear.
If you do not live close to woodland, or cannot make a confident identification – it is sometimes mixed up with Lily of the Valley or Meadow Saffron when not in flower, both of which are poisonous – you should ensure that you grow it organically, to avoid taking in concentrations of chemicals along with your remedy. For more information on growing organic Ramsons, visit the Gardenzone.