Welcome!

Wise Woman Herbal Ezine

Click here to read the Ezine Archives



<< First  < Prev   1   2   3   4   5   ...   Next >  Last >> 
  • Monday, July 16, 2018 7:30 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    The Shamanic Herbalist, part 2
    Susun Weed




    WHAT'S SCIENCE GOT TO DO WITH IT?

    Once upon a time, healing was considered an art. Healing was understood by all to be a complex interaction between the patient, the healer, the community of living people, the communities of the plants and animals (and insects and rocks and fish), the communities of the non-living people (such as ancestors, spirit guides, and archetypes) and that mysterious movement known by so many names: Creator, God/dess, All High.

    The healing arts included a keen knowledge of human behavior, a thorough knowledge of plants, a flair for the dramatic arts, especially singing/chanting and costuming/body painting, and a comprehensive knowledge of anatomy, physiology, and biochemistry. (If you think these areas are not arts, look at the system used by Traditional Chinese Practitioners, which includes such "organs" as the triple heater and a dozen different pulses.)

    Art does not preclude or oppose science. Science is, after all, only the honest testing of ideas and the ability to observe clearly the confusing relationship of cause and effect. The best of science is deeply indebted to art. Art understands that science is left-brained and art is right-brained, and a whole brain includes both.

    Science, however, is not so easy with art. Science believes art is superstition. Science believes art is fuzzy, soft, not-replicable, and therefore untrustworthy. (It is interesting to me that the Liberal Arts University I attended - UCLA - required students to take a variety of science courses, but the Science College I turned down - MIT - did not require students to study the arts.) Science defines itself as factual and art as fantastical.

    Truly great scientists understand the need to honor intuition along with information. But the world is rarely run by the truly great. So bit by bit, the art of healing is denigrated and the science of healing is venerated. The healer spends more and more time interacting with machines and drugs and technology and less and less time with the patient; more and more time studying books and less and less time learning about the strange, symbolic, provocative powers of the psyche. The healer focuses more and more on fixing the sick individual and less and less on the patient's need for wholeness in self, family, and community.

    The herbalist becomes a biochemist. The pharmacist no longer needs to know botany. Herbs are presented as drugs in green coats. And the active ingredient is the only one worth mentioning.

    Is this what I want? Is this what drew me to herbs? Is this what fascinates me about herbal medicine? My answer to all these questions is absolutely NOT. While acknowledging the usefulness of science, I maintain the right-brain's superior abilities in the art of healing. I defend the rights of the miracle-workers, the shamans, the witch doctors, the old-wife herbalists, the wise women, those who have the skill, the personal power, and the courage to midwife the changes - large and small, from birth to death and in between - in the lives of those around them.


    Herbal medicine. Magical plants. Psycho-active plants. There is a thread here, and it goes a long way back. At least 40,000 years. The plants say they spoke with us all until recently. Forty thousand years ago we know our ancestors were genetically manipulating, hybridizing, and crossbreeding specific psychedelic plants. And using them in healing. Maria Sabina, one of the 20th Century's most renowned shamanic healers, went into the forest as a small child and ate psilocybin mushrooms because they spoke to her. She healed only with the aid of the "little people" (mushrooms) and she healed not just body but soul. In the Amazon, the students of herbalism, of healing, are apprenticed to psychoactive plants as well as to human teachers.

    There is a lot of talk lately about the active ingredients in plants. I've had many a chuckle as product ads claim to have the most of this or that only to be superseded by the announcement that a new, better, more active active ingredient has been found.

    For example, when Kyolic Garlic was shown by Consumer Reports to have virtually no allicin (the "active" ingredient), Kyolic countered with an ad campaign claiming superiority because it contained a different, stronger, active ingredient.

    For instance, most standardized St. John's/Joan's wort tinctures are standardized for hypericin. But the latest research shows that hyperforin is the real active ingredient!

    To illustrate: an article several years ago in JAMA on use of Ginkgo biloba to counter dementia explained that no active ingredient from among the several hundred constituents present had been determined and it was, in fact, likely that the effect resulted from a complex, synergistic interplay of the parts. An article in the New York Times, however, cautioned readers not to use ginkgo until an active ingredient had been established.

    It happened to me: An MD on a menopause panel with me told the audience that no herb was safe to use unless its active ingredient was measured and standardized. What can I say? To me the active ingredient of a plant is the very part that cannot be measured: the energy, the life force, the chi, the fairy of the plant, not a "poisonous" constituent. To the healer/artist/herbalist, the active part of the plant is that part that can be used by the right brain to actively, chaotically, naturally, "jump the octave" and work a miracle. This active part is refined away in standardized products, for the real active part is the messy part, the changeable part, the subtle part, the invisible part.

    Does science have anything to do with it? Certainly. The process of identifying specific compounds in plants, replicating them in the laboratory and mass-producing them as drugs cannot be replicated by or superseded by any healer or herbalist. Preparation of standardized drugs protects the consumer (usually) and protects the plants from over harvesting (although the net effect on the environment may be detrimental).

    If we put into the lap of science anything having to do with measuring and certifying, then surely I beg science to be the guardian of the purity of the herbs we trade in our commerce, knowing that art is the guardian of the purity of the herbs we gather ourselves. (A tip from the apprentice book: When harvesting, put only one kind of plant in a basket. This allows one to quickly and easily notice if an interloper has been mistakenly introduced.)

    This story doesn't have an ending, for it is ongoing. The dance of health and illness, of art and science (and don't forget commerce) has no pause. So the ending of our tale is not happy, but neither is it sad. Take a look; the real ending of the rainbow is in your own heart.

  • Tuesday, July 10, 2018 4:27 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    The Shamanic Herbalist

    Susun S. Weed


    You Are Invited to Be Part of the Shamanic Herbalists/Healers Association (SHA).


    SHA is an invisible association. There are no board meetings, no dues, no membership drive, no fund raising. This association is a figment of our imaginations. As such, it is always changing. 


    The purpose of this association is to define the characteristics of the shamanic (aka, wise woman) herbalist/healer and, by doing so, to claim a space which cannot be defined and limited by law or licensing bodies.


    I'm Against Licensing Herbalists

    Ever since I went to my first herbalist's gathering two decades ago, there has been one topic guaranteed to elicit raised voices: Shall herbalists be licensed? My position has always been an unequivocal "NO!" I believe that shamanic healer/herbalists especially have everything to lose and nothing to gain from being licensed, accredited, tested, or certified in any manner whatsoever.


    Before we go on to the things we can do we keep our "profession" vital and on the beauty way, I would like to share a little of my life with you, a few of the experiences that have shaped the way I think about healing, healers, herbs, and shamans..


    What Midwives Can Tell Us About Licensing

    My sister and many of my friends are, or were, midwives. Some are certified nurse midwives, some lay midwives, all are well-trained, experienced, skilled, and wise. Barely ten percent of them are working as midwives. Most are disgruntled, discouraged, and depressed about their ability to offer real individualized care to their clients. They sought to license and police themselves, for fear that outside forces would do it if they didn't. And they licensed themselves into oblivion. Rather than insuring the freedom to help women give birth, midwives find themselves now bound with laws, rules, regulations, protocols, fear of losing one's license, and insurance demands.


    I Trust the Chaos of the Universe

    In order to issue a license, one must quantify, score a test, determine the measure of a human's knowledge and wisdom, define, lay out the rules, say how it should be. But birth doesn't follow rules. Neither does life. Nor healing. Nor do herbs.


    Herbs can change their constituents dramatically in response to being grazed, overgrazed, attacked by insects or molds, experiencing drought or flood, suffering from lack of nutrients, poisoned by too much, or a host of other variables. The scientific drive to quantify active ingredients in herbs creates herbal products that are as dangerous as drugs. I am an herbalist because I believe nature's infinite variety, expressed in the herbs, offers more health/wholeness/holiness than the standardized, sanitized remedies of orthodox medicine.


    What Can We Do?

    How can we continue to practice as shamanic herbalists/healers, as wise women, in the face of pressures to mainstream, certify, and license alternative medicine and its practitioners.


    I propose that we define ourselves. That we make ourselves visible in words and thereby declare clearly the impossibility, illegality (according to cosmic law), and absurdity of trying to license shamanic herbalists/healers. Let us present ourselves to ourselves, each other, and our communities--as we have always done, through story, song, dance, and drama, and now through defining words--so that the weave of everyone's reality is touched by a shamanic thread, and our work is kept safe from restriction by the language of law.


    Though it is a daunting task, it is necessary to undertake it and possible to do it. What are the characteristics of the shamanic healer? What ought a shamanic healer not do? I envision a discussion that takes place in person, in print, on the Web, by letters, and in the dreamtime.


    Here's my list of the characteristics of shamanic herbalists/healers. It isn't meant to be definitive, but to spark discussion. I hope it will be copied, circulated, changed. 


    Characteristics of shamanic herbalists/healers:

    1 * Shamanic healers and herbalists answer solely to the universal "way" as their as their authority and as such cannot be restricted by the language of men's law, for such language constitutes an unfair restriction upon the practices, livelihood and life of the shamanic healer.


    2 * Shamanic healers and herbalists work without regard for payment, but absolutely insist on being honored for the work they do. Any healer who withholds treatment until payment is made is guilty of blackmail and is not to be considered a shamanic healer.


    3 * Shamanic healers and herbalists use the plant and animal resources of their locality as their healing allies. These resources are harvested in a way that sustains or builds their abundance and diversity. The plants and animals are accorded power, dignity, and sentience. They are addressed directly, prayed to, and usually thanked ritually as well as actually.


    4 * Shamanic healers and herbalists frequently use power plants in their work. Power plants include indigenous natural (not synthetic) psychoactives such as psilocybin, tobacco, datura, peyote, marijuana, coco leaves, and the like. Trafficking in such plants is not typical of the shamanic healer, who may, nonetheless, supply apprentices with these plants for the purposes of their studies, and keep a personal supply of up to two year's worth of such power plants. These practices are not to be infringed upon by the language or intent of man's law, as such restrictions unfairly prevent the shamanic healer from accessing certain kinds of information.


    5 * Shamanic healers and herbalists may be very limited in their ability to read, write, figure sums, or otherwise function in the modern world. To try to conceive of a written test which could give any information which would be of use in determining the worth of a shamanic herbalist/healer is to enter the realm of the absurd.


    6 * Shamanic healers may also be quite limited in their understanding of anatomy, physiology, chemistry, and other modern medical necessities. Nonetheless, each shamanic healer has a "story" about the nature of the world(s) s/he inhabits, and a vision of the health/wholeness toward which the individual patient is moving.


    7 * Shamanic healers frequently use drama to potentize healing. Community enactments, melodic messages, rhythmic movements, colorful visions, memorable aromas, and more are interwoven in the work of shamanic healers and herbalists. Expect the unexpected here, the unique, the gift of the moment.


    8 * Shamanic healers respect the power of kundalini/life force and therefore do not engage in sexual release with their patients/clients. This is not to say that shamanic healers and herbalists do not flirt! On the contrary, their are often very raunchy, suggestive, and lewd. But they never cross the line from loving, healing touch to frank sexual need/exchange. Anyone who implies or suggests that their healing power can be best accessed through sexual connection is not a shamanic healer.


    9 * Shamanic healers support and direct the processes which are common to all of us--birth, initiation, and death--in ways that are unique to the culture and the individual, but which are always characterized, in true shamanic healing, by the intention to honor the person involved and to increase the person's self-confidence and self-acceptance.


    10 * Shamanic healers are passionate and compassionate. They move easily into joy, anger, and grief, knowing that all feelings can be healers and liberators. Shamanic healers know few fears. They approach life and healing as a cosmic joke, always ready to laugh first at themselves.


    11 * Shamanic healers don't claim to have the answer or know the answer or be the answer; they remind us that the answer lies within ourselves.


    To Be Continued...


  • Monday, July 09, 2018 8:52 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Phytoestrogenic herbs are usually too powerful for long- term use. From the list below (which is in alphabetical order), it is safest to use only one herb at a time, and use it only when needed, although that may mean daily use for several months. More information about these herbs, including specific dosages and cautions, is in New Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way.

        Agave root, black cohosh root, black currant, black haw, chasteberries, cramp bark, dong quai root, devil's club root, false unicorn root, ginseng root, groundsel herb, licorice, liferoot herb, motherwort herb, peony root, raspberry leaves, rose family plants (most parts), sage leaves, sarsaparilla root, saw palmetto berried, wild yam root, yarrow blossoms.

        4. Most of the warnings about phytoestrogenic herbs center on their proven ability to thicken the uterine wall in animals who have had their ovaries removed. This could encourage cancer, just as taking ERT encourages cancer of the uterus by stimulating cell growth. Women without ovaries are probably safe eating phytoestrogenic foods, but may want to use phytoestrogenic herbs - especially ginseng, dong quai, licorice, red clover, and wild yam - in small amounts and only for short periods.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


    Recent studies indicate black cohosh does not suppress luteinizing hormone, has no estrogenic effect, and contains no compounds related to estrogen. Red clover flower heads contain many hormone-like flavonoids, including isoflavone, daidzein, genistein, formononetin, biochanin, sitosterol, and coumestrol, a particularly strong phytoestrogen (six times more active than the one in soy). Red clover contains all four major estrogenic isoflavones; soy has only two of them. A cup of red clover infusion (not tea) contains ten times more phytoestrogens than a cup of soy beverage, is richer in calcium, has less calories, and contains no added sugars.

        Researchers in Australia report a million lambs a year are aborted after sheep eat clover on pasture. Yet red clover is renowned as a fertility enhancer. What's up? Stephen Buhner, author of The Secret Language of Plants, says clover plants make blood-thinning compounds (which cause abortion) when overgrazed, but don't otherwise. Plants, it turns out, can fight back.

        When unfermented soy takes the place of animal protein (meat and milk), its anti-nutritional factors can create brittle bones, thyroid problems, memory loss, vision impairment, irregular heartbeat, depression, and vulnerability to infections. Unfermented soy is high in hemoglutin, which causes clumping of red blood cells and may increase risk of stroke. It is also impressively rich in aluminum (up to 100 times more than is found in the same amount of real milk). Eating tofu more than once a week doubled the risk of Alzheimer's in a small group of Japanese men studied for thirty years.

        Human gut bacteria can cleave a sugar molecule from wild yam's steroidal saponin, producing diosgenin. Labs make progesterone from diosgenin, but our bodies can't. Diosgenin itself has a weak estrogenic effect. According to Australian herbalist Ruth Trickey: "A more probable explanation [for the observed effects of wild yam] ... is that [diosgenin] interacts with hypothalamic and pituitary hormones and ... initiates ovulation."

  • Monday, July 09, 2018 8:46 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    The Yoga of Menopause, part 5   




    THERE ARE MANY TYPES OF ESTROGENS

        Women make estrogens.
        Plants make estrogens and estrogen-like compounds.
        Chemicals, especially organochlorines, act like estrogens (xenoestrogens).

        Pharmaceutical companies make estrogens from substances such as horse urine, wild yam roots, and petrochemicals. Tamoxifen, used to treat and prevent breast cancer, is a type of pharmaceutical estrogen.

        Women make at least thirty types of estrogen, including estradiol, estrone, and estrace. Estradiol is the strongest; it is turned on at puberty and turned off at menopause. Estradiol is positively linked with breast cancer; other human estrogens are not. Anything that reduces the amount of estradiol a woman produces (such as pregnancy, lactation, early menopause, and late puberty) also decreases her risk of a breast cancer diagnosis.

        Phytoestrogens counter the detrimental effects of estradiol by competing for the same receptor sites.

        Estradiol is a strong estrogen and is metabolized by the long path. The other estrogens our bodies make are weak estrogens and are metabolized by the short path. Alcohol turns off the short path. Phytoestrogens are weak hormones and hormonal precursors. Phytoestrogens in foods are metabolized by the short path. Phytoestrogens appear to protect tissues from the cancer-causing effects of estradiol, xenoestrogens and pharmaceutical hormones. Phytoestrogens in foods prevent cancer and promote health; phytoestrogen supplements and processed soy fake-foods may do the opposite. Breast cancer occurs four times more often in women whose urinary output of phytoestrogen by-products is low compared to women whose urinary output is high.

        Phytoestrogens are common in food. They are concentrated in seeds (grains, beans, nuts, berries) and roots. The exceptions to the rule that plants don't contain human hormones: French beans, rice, apple seeds, licorice, and pomegranate seeds contain the "weak" estrogen estrone.

        To get the greatest benefit from phytoestrogenic foods and herbs remember:

        1. Isolated phytoestrogens are not as safe as those "in matrix."
        2. To make use of plant hormones, you need active, healthy gut flora.
        3. Herbs and foods rich in phytoestrogens need to be used in different ways.
        4. Phytoestrogens may have different effects on women who do not have their ovaries.


        1. Plants contain many types of phytoestrogens; additionally, they contain minerals and other constituents which help our bodies modify the phytoestrogens and so we can use them safely. Red clover is mineral-rich and contains all four of the major types of phytoestrogens: lignans, coumestans, isoflavones, and resorcylic acid lactones. It is the world's best-known anti-cancer herb. In general, foods and herbs rich in phytoestrogens, with the possible exception of licorice, show anti-cancer abilities. Isoflavone, however, when isolated (usually from soy) has the opposite effect: in the lab it encourages the growth of breast cancer cells (endnote 32 in New Menopausal Years).

        2. Plant hormones, including most phytoestrogens, can't be used by humans. But we can convert them into ones we can use - with the help of our gut bacteria. When women take antibiotics, their excretion of phytoestrogens plummets. Get your gut flora going by eating more yogurt, miso, unpasteurized sauerkraut, homemade beers and wines, picked-by-your-own-hands-and-unwashed fruits and salads, sourdough bread, and whey-fermented vegetables. (See Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon for whey-fermented vegetable recipes.)

        3. Plants which are exceptionally rich in phytoestrogens are regarded as powerful herbal medicines. Plants which are good sources of phytoestrogens are regarded as foods. While food can certainly be our medicine - a practice I advocate - it is also true that medicines are more dangerous than foods. Foods rich in phytoestrogens are different than medicinal herbs rich in phytoestrogens. They have different places in my life.

        I eat phytoestrogenic foods daily in quantity.
        I use phytoestrogenic food-like herbs regularly (not daily), in moderate quantity.
        I take phytoestrogenic herbs rarely, in small amounts, for a limited time.

        Phytoestrogenic foods are the basis for a healthy diet and a long life. The first food listed is the highest in phytoestrogens. The best diet contains not just one but many choices from each list:

        Whole grains (rye, oats, barley, millet, rice, wheat, corn)
        Edible seeds (buckwheat, sesame, sunflower, pumpkin, amaranth, quinoa)
        Beans (yellow split peas, black turtle beans, baby limas, Anasazi beans, red kidney beans, red lentils, soy beans)
        Leafy greens and seaweed (parsley, nettle, kelp, cabbage, broccoli, kale, collards, lamb's quarter)
        Fruits (olives, cherries, grapes, apples, pears, peaches, plums, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, salmon berries, apricots, crab apples, quinces, rosehips, blueberries)
        Olive oil and seed oils. Garlic, onions and their relatives leeks, chives, scallions, ramps, shallot

        Phytoestrogenic food-like herbs are generally considered longevity tonics. For optimum effect, use only one from the list below and to stick with it for at least three months.

        Citrus peel, dandelion leaves and/or roots, fenugreek seeds, flax seeds, green tea, hops, red clover, red wine.


    ~ Page 2 ~


     

  • Tuesday, June 12, 2018 10:50 AM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    THE YOGA OF MENOPAUSE

    Part 4

    ALTERNATIVES TO

    HORMONE THERAPY

     

    Herbal Allies to Prevent Problems Caused by Taking Hormones

     

    Stroke and heart attack are actually increased by use of ERT/HRT, though modern medicine has long proclaimed the opposite. Every major double-blind study done to date has created a larger and larger gap between ERT/HRT's supposed ability to help cardiovascular health and its actual results.


    Protect your heart with nourishing and tonifying herbs and foods such as motherwort, hawthorn, and cherries.


    Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca) tincture helps the heart. The Japanese claim it is their secret of longevity. A dose is 5-15 drops, twice a day. Motherwort also relieves hot flashes, calms tachycardiia, and eases anxiety. It's an all-in-one remedy for menopausal women.


    Hawthorn (Crataegus oxycantha) flowers, leaves, and fruits are all used to maintain heart health and control fluid build-up in heart tissues. A dose is 20- 30 drops of tincture 2-4 times a day, or a cup of tea with meals. This widespread shrub is considered one of the finest heart tonics in the world.


    Cherries are even better than apples at keeping the doctor away. Dried cherries and cherry juice, even tincture of cherries.


    More than three-quarters of the women in America over the age of fifty have refused ERT/HRT. If you want to join them, taper off your dosage slowly, while continuing to use nourishing and tonifying herbs such as dandelion, motherwort, red clover, oatstraw, and seaweed.


  • Monday, June 04, 2018 8:48 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Letting Nature Grow Your Garden, Page 2
    Susun Weed



    The next best thing to letting Nature plant your herb garden for you is to put in perennials and let Nature take care of them. You will find the best plants for your area at a plant swap at a local church or school. Nurseries, especially the mail order ones, offer lots of different kinds of plants, but only a few of them will be both productive and carefree.

    The most dependable perennial herbs are echinacea, comfrey, elecampane, wormwood, and thyme, on the hardiest members of the aromatic mint family.

    Cuttings of various mints are easy to come by and easier yet to establish. Chocolate mint and red bergamot are two of my favorites, but don't be choosy, accept any and all mint cuttings you are given. Perennial aromatic mints -- including lemon balm, lavender, rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano. pennyroyal, and catnip as well as spearmint and peppermint -- form the "backbone" of most herb gardens. Just grow them in full sun in poor soil and don't overwater.

    Anyone who has a comfrey plant will be glad to give you a "start" (a piece of the root). And, once put in, comfrey is a friend for life. Ditto rhubarb, whose root is a formidable herbal medicine.

    Magazines offer gardening knowledge in small doses, and at appropriate times, instead of all at once, and this is usually more helpful than a book that tries to cover all seasons and all reasons.

        Herbals that include cultural instructions are good additions to your library.


    Steven Foster's Herbal Bounty is a classic on "The Gentle Art of Herb Culture." Unfortunately, it is now out of print, but you may be able to find one used. (c. 1984, Peregrine Smith Books). He gives detailed information on the culture, and medicinal uses, of over 100 popular herbs.

    Park's Success with Herbs is also out of print but a book that I use constantly. Gertrude Foster and Rosemary Louden fill just under 200 pages with an incredible amount of information on growing and using (lots of recipes) an amazing variety of herbs.

    When you try too hard, it doesn’t work. We learn to work with the slow interplay of Yin and Yang. We learn to be in harmony with nature's laws. Forcing things to fit or going against the grain is an unskillful way. We learn to be flexible like water. We use our intuition. We hold, energetically, a magical spot of ground and watch what grows. In Taoism they call it "Wu Wei". We walk in the "effortless", we dance with the fairies, moving in joyful flow with the undulating, magical greenery blowing in the breeze.

    Wow! You have a garden! With patience, good weather, and the grace of the Goddess, you and Nature will create a thing of beauty.

  • Monday, June 04, 2018 8:20 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Letting Nature Grow Your Garden,
    Page 1


    Dancing with the Fairies




    Your garden. What fun -- and frustration -- await you there! The best mentor you can choose, as far as I'm concerned is Nature herself. Nature likes life everywhere. Have an open field and plants magically appear! This is the way plants grow when left to themselves. We don't have to struggle so much.

    It is wisest to let Nature have Her way. Nature has her own agenda, and your life as a gardener will be easier if you bow to Her desires. Better to dance with the fairies than struggle with eliminating "weeds". What herbs already grow around you that you can use as teas and seasonings? Most areas are rich in such plants, both native and introduced. Many of them will be happy to grace your garden with very little effort on your part. Some will appear, others may want to be transplanted. Still others are simply there, waiting for you to notice.

    For instance, pine trees. Pine needle vinegar is an exquisite treat that is easy to make. I call it homemade "balsamic" vinegar. Fill a jar with pine needles. (I prefer white pine, and pinyon pine is even better, but the needles of any pine are fine.) Cover needles completely with apple cider vinegar, filling the jar to the top and capping with a plastic lid or a piece of plastic wrap held in place with a rubber band. This vinegar, like most that I make, is ready to use in six weeks. Pine vinegar is rich in flavonoids, vitamins, and minerals. It helps keep the immune system strong, and strengthens the lungs as well. I love it on salads.

    Your home, like mine in the Catskills, offers rose hips and sumac berries for vitamin-C rich teas; spice bush leaves and berries to suggest the flavors of bay and allspice; and the roots of sweet clover to use as a vanilla substitute.

    Grab a local field guide and go looking for all the plants that are native to your area. For example, if you live in the northern states like Minnesota, a great book is "How Indians Use Wild Plants for Food, Medicine, and Crafts", written in 1926 by Frances Densmore who collected information from the Minnesota Chippewa. There are many similar guides available.

    Why use native plants? They are often hardy survivors and naturally adapted to the area, sometimes requiring less watering and care. Whether in the wilds or in your garden, Nature is ever-ready to provide you with all you need with little or no input from you. An abundance of edible and medicinal plants covers every inch of my garden -- and I didn't plant any of them. With only a little help from me (I spread compost several inches deep on my gardens spring and fall, and keep them fenced against my goats and the marauding deer), my gardens grow: garlic mustard, chickweed, violets, dandelion, curly dock, nettles, burdock, wild madder, crone(mug)wort, wild chives, poke, catnip, malva, wild mint, bergamot, cleavers, motherwort, chicory, raspberry, goldenrod, creeping jenny, barbara's cress, evening primrose, milk weed.


    ~ Page 2 ~

  • Monday, June 04, 2018 7:31 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    THE YOGA OF MENOPAUSE, PART 3


    Herbal Allies to Prevent Problems Caused by Taking Hormones

    Breast cancer risk is increased 20% in women who use ERT for five or more years. Use of HRT for five or more years increases breast cancer risk by 40%. Each five years of continued use increases the risk. In addition, women who take ERT are far more likely to get uterine or endometrial cancers. All women on hormones increase their risks of lung and ovarian cancer, too. Nourishing herbs such as red clover, and foods such as beans and yogurt, offer easy ways to stay cancer-free.

    Red clover blossoms (Trifolium pratense), when dried and brewed into a strong infusion (one ounce herb steeped an a quart of boiling water for at least four hours) prevent cancer by providing phytoestrogens that counter the cancer-promoting effects of oral hormones. Usual dose is 2-4 cups a day. The infusion tastes like black tea and can be flavored with mint if you like.

    Since uncooked beans and unfermented soy contain anti-nutritional factors that may promote bone loss and dementia, soy "milk" and tofu are not recommended. Miso and tamari definitely help to prevent breast cancer but soy isoflavones may promote it.

    Yogurt helps build powerful immunity. Women who eat a quart of yogurt a week have 700% less cancer than women who eat no yogurt.

    Dry eyes afflict more than 9% of women using ERT and over 7% of those on HRT. Risk increases by 70% for every year of continued use. And the longer a woman uses hormones, the greater her risk. Herbs such as oatstraw, chamomile, and chickweed can help relieve and prevent this problem.

    Oatstraw infusion (Avena sativa) cools and moistens your eyes from the inside out, builds strong bones too. Use one ounce of dried herb in a quart jar; fill to the top with boiling water and cap tightly. Let steep four or more hours. Dose is 2-4 cups a day. Refrigerate after straining.

    Cucumber slices ease dry eyes; so do chamomile tea bags.

    The ultimate ally for women with dry eyes is fresh chickweed (Stellaria media), applied as a poultice to the closed eyes. Leave on for five minutes, or until the plant material feels warm (it will heat up). Repeat as needed.

  • Monday, June 04, 2018 6:26 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Remedies for Stings



    The basis for successful treatment of stings is immediate action. Do not let stings and bites from insects and animals stay untreated, to inflame and swell.

                1. Ants. Pulp up some cloves of garlic or take slices of raw onion and apply
                at once. Further soothe the irritated parts with cucumber juice or pulped
                parsley or garlic in vinegar.

                2. Bees and Wasps. First remove the sting, ten press out the poison from the
                skin. Soothe the fire of the sting with a paste of whitewash. After an hour,
                wash off, as whitewash itself lightly burns the skin. Then soothe with herbal
                oil, and bind over with leaves of dock or plantain. Or apply parsley or
                garlic in vinegar, as above for ant bites.

                3. Scorpions, Poisonous Spiders, Medusae (jellyfish). If first-aid is
                necessary, cut the place with the point of a sharp knife and press or suck
                out (of course, not swallowing) all the surface poison. Then apply pulped
                leaves of wormwood, rue, and sage, as available. Preferably heat the leaves
                for a few minutes in hot water to make their volatile oils more easily
                available to the human skin. Bind in place with cotton bandages soaked in a
                mixture of hot water and vinegar, equal parts. Even more effective is an
                application of extracted oils of wormwood, rue and rosemary (see pages 7-8),
                if available, likewise covering with bandages soaked in hot vinegar water. (I
                have cured numerous cases of severe bites, several being from the giant
                species of scorpion, considered fatal, using this treatment.) The most
                effective and the speediest remedies are the essential oils of these herbs
                applied on swabs of cotton wool first dampened in hot water.

                4. Mosquitoes and Midges. To keep away when spending evenings out of    doors:

    Gather some of the aromatic herbs, such as sage, southernwood, rue, rosemary, elecampane and others, add some dry paper or dry grass, place in quite large open cans, sprinkle the herbs with paraffin and ignite. The pungent smoke will clear the air of mosquitoes and kindred biting insects. The Mexican Indians burn thuja pine.




    An excerpt from Common Herbs for Natural Health
    by Juliette de Bairacli Levy.

  • Wednesday, May 30, 2018 6:27 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)
    HERBALISM
    by Susun S. Weed




    Herbalism, the use of plants for health and healing, is as old as humanity, if not older. In hunting/gathering societies, women are naturally the herbalists. This connection between women and herbs continues today. At the turn of the Century, herbalism in America is undergoing a renaissance. Throughout most of the rest of the world, especially in countries where women's wisdom has traditionally been honored, herbalism remains, as ever, the treatment of choice for many acute and most chronic health problems. Herbal medicine is a complex and daunting study; yet it is the medicine of the people and so simple that children safely apply it.

    THE WISE WOMAN TRADITION
    The earliest known herbalism is the Wise Woman Way: the way of our foremothers out of Africa, our ancient female ancestors. Herbalism is still used and respected in many places, especially the Orient, the mid-East, and India.
    Wise women view herbs as spiritual allies and intrinsically important foodstuffs as well as medicines. Psychoactive plants are both teachers and healers, and are used, under the guidance of the herbalist/shaman, by all members of the community. Compassion, connection, community, and honor for the Earth characterize Wise Woman herbalism. The nourishing herbal infusions, mineral-rich vinegars, and edible herbs favored by wise women are generally considered safe, even in quantity, for all women, including those pregnant and lactating.

    Favorite herbs include nourishing tonics such as nettle, red clover, oatstraw, comfrey leaf, linden, dandelion, seaweed, and burdock.

    THE HEROIC TRADITION
    In Europe, and then in the Americas, the Inquisition targeted Wise Woman herbalists/midwives and (often through torture and murder) replaced them with male Heroes, who used herbs to drive out the devils of illness from the hated body. Herbs that caused catharsis and purging were elevated, as was blood-letting.

    The Heroic tradition, despising all things female, licensed only men as healers. Anyone who practiced without a license (women) was persecuted. Some escaped to the Americas, learned Native American herbal medicine, and served their communities - only to be vilified and replaced by school-trained male physicians from England several generations later. The Heroic tradition is still popular in Europe and in Latin and Black communities throughout the Americas. Domination, mentation, isolation, and distrust of the Earth (who is female and therefore considered sinful and dirty) characterize Heroic medicine.

    Favorite herbs include powerful stimulants and sedatives such as cayenne, lobelia, valerian, ephedra, golden seal, cascara sagrada, turkey rhubarb, and aloes. Most Heroic herbs are dangerous to women, especially if pregnant or lactating.


    THE SCIENTIFIC TRADITION
    Where the practice of medicine becomes dominated by linear, either/or thinking, the Scientific tradition replaces the Heroic. Women and their connection to herbs are again vilified, as quacks, rather than as witches. The quest for powerful drugs brings plants to the laboratory, where active ingredients are extracted, concentrated, isolated, standardized, sanitized, and ultimately synthesized. Plants are raw materials, crude, inexact, and unpredictable.

    Approximately 85 percent of the hundreds of thousands of drugs currently used are directly or indirectly derived from plants; eg foxglove (digitalis compounds), Pacific yew (cancer drug), wild yam (cortisone, birth control pills), and chinchona (quinine). Drugs and drug-like herbs cause severe side effects and should not be self-administered by pregnant and lactating women.



    EXPLORING HERBAL MEDICINE: RESOURCES
            Achterberg, Jeanne. Woman As Healer: A panoramic survey of the healing activities of women from prehistoric times to the present. Shambala (Boston), 1990.


            Benedetti, Maria Dolores. Earth and Spirit: Medicinal Plants and Healing Lore from Puerto Rico. Verde Luz (Orocovis, Puerto Rico), 1998.


            Bennett, Jennifer. Lilies of the Hearth: The Historical Relationship Between Women & Plants. Firefly (Willowdale, Ontario, Canada), 1991.


            Brooke, Elisabeth. Medicine Women: A Pictorial History of Women Healers. Quest Books (Wheaton, Illinois & Madras, India), 1997.


            Women Healers: Portraits of Herbalists, Physicians, and Midwives. Healing Arts Press (Rochester, Vermont), 1995.


            Chamberlain, Mary. Old Wives Tales: Their History, Remedies and Spells. Virago (London), 1981


            Christopher, Dr. John R. School of Natural Healing: The Reference Volume on Heroic Herbal Therapy for the Teacher, Student, or Practitioner. Christopher Publications, 1976.


            Griggs, Barbara. Green Pharmacy: The History and Evolution of Western Medicine. Healing Arts Press (Rochester, Vermont), 1997.


            McClain, Carol Shepherd. Women As Healers: Cross Cultural Perspectives. Rutgers University Press (New Brunswick and London), 1989.


            Vogel, Virgil J. American Indian Medicine. University of Oklahoma Press (Norman & London), 1970.


            Weed, Susun S. Healing Wise: The Second Wise Woman Herbal. Ash Tree Publishing (Woodstock, New York), 1989.


            Wichtl, Max (edited and translated from the German by Norman Grainger Bisset). Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceuticals: A handbook for practice on a scientific basis. Medpharm Verlag (Stuttgart) & CRC Press (Boca Raton, Ann Arbor, London, Tokyo), 1994

            Note: These resources are but a fraction of what is available. My emphasis is on the history of herbalism and the Wise Woman tradition, but I have included one Heroic (Christopher) and one Scientific (Wichtl) reference.

<< First  < Prev   1   2   3   4   5   ...   Next >  Last >> 
Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software