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A Few Sources of Iron

Chickweed - Stellaria media

Chickweed – Stellaria media

I am back from vacation and excited to see that Duluth has thought about entering into summer. Yesterday and today it was in the mid 50’s. Not too bad, but not as warm and sunny as I’d like. My seedlings are doing well; they are strong although they are still tiny. They need some solar energy! I am especially excited for Chinese scullcap, African marigolds and spilanthes.

Over the past two weeks I have been putting in a conscious effort to get enough iron, mostly through diet. The dizziness subsided the last two weeks until this afternoon, when I stood up and became really dizzy after being stooped over during an hour long weeding session. As a reminder, I decided to investigate sources of iron a bit more just to be sure.

The following sources of iron (mg per 100 grams) is taken from Ruth Trickey, page 250 of Woman, Hormones and the Menstrual Cycle.

  • Animal – eggs 2, beef 3.4, lamb 2.7, pork 1.3, dark chicken 1.9, light chicken .6, cod .4, sardines 2.4, mussels 7.7, oysters 6
  • Grain – wheatgerm 10, wheat bran 12.9, whole wheat flour 4, oatmeal 4.1, soy flour 9 white bread 1.7, whole wheat bread 2.5
  • Legumes – green beans 2.5, lentils 2.4, peas 1.2
  • Vegetables – broccoli 1, leeks 2, lettuce .9, mushrooms 1, scallions 1.2, parsley 8, potato .6, spinach 3.4, beet 3
  • Fruits – dried apricots 4.1, avocado 1.5, currents 1.8, dried figs 4.2, dates 1.2, dried peaches 6.8, prunes 2.9, raisins 1.6, raspberries 1.2
  • Nuts and other – almonds 4.2, Brazil nuts 2.8, hazelnuts 1.1, peanuts 2, walnuts 2.4 curry powder 75, yeast 20

I knew Susun Weed would have some iron numbers for some herbs. Same mg per 100 grams applies. Notice some high numbers here!

  • Herbs – chickweed 253, fresh dandelion leaves 3, cooked dandelion leaves 29, root 96 (fresh or dried? I am unsure), fresh nettle leaves and shoots 41.8,oat straw 4.6 – 57, kelp 8.9 – 100, dulse 150

My favorite and simplest iron tonic recipe is one I got from midwife Aviva Romm. Start with equal parts yellow dock and dandelion root, simmered and reduced until there is about one cup of liquid remaining. Then add a fourth to a half cup black strap molasses after the liquid has been strained. Take 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon daily. The yellow dock helps the liver use iron more sufficiently, while the dandelion root is a source of iron (and also acts on the liver) and the molasses is an even better source of iron. I do not know how many milligrams of iron are in one teaspoon, but I can imagine that it is not necessarily high in iron, but rather is more bio-available and assists the body is using what iron is present.

Rosemary Gladstar has a nice “Iron-Plus Syrup” (62) recipe that sounds delicious. In fact, after reading about it I want to go make my own!

  • 3 parts nettle
  • 3 parts dandelion leaf
  • 3 parts dandelion root
  • 3 parts raspberry leaf
  • 2 parts watercress
  • 2 parts alfalfa leaf
  • 1 part hawthorn berries
  • 1 part yellow dock root
  • 1 part dulse
  • 1/4 part horsetail

Add two ounces of the herb mixture to one quart of water. Simmer, reduce to two cups liquid. Strain and while it is still warm, add one cup sweetener (honey works well), two teaspoons spirulina and two teaspoons nutritional yeast. Add 1/4 cup brandy and 1/4 cup fruit concentrate to finish it; bottle, lable, refidgerate and enjoy! The dosage Gladstar gives is four to six tablespoons a day.

So now I must ask myself, did I make the recommended 10 – 18 mg (depending on your source)? Let’s investigate:

Eggs – 2, half avocado .75, oatmeal 4.1, lentils 2.4, half serving spinach 1.7, half serving almonds  2, = 12.95 grams, plus an undetermined amount from a some potato, raisins, corn tortilla chips, everything else I ate today, plus whatever is in a tablespoon of Romm’s simple iron tonic and a quart of nettle/raspberry leaf tea.

Not too bad, but there is room for improvement, especially in improving iron absorption.



Gladstar, Rosemary. Herbal Healing for Women.

Trickey, Ruth. Women, Hormones, and the Menstrual Cycle.

Weed, Susun. Healing Wise.

Filed under: Herbalism


Tea-drinking, nature-loving acupuncturist, East Asian Medicine practitioner, herbalism and birth doula living in the Pacific Northwest.


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