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Wise Woman Herbal Ezine

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  • Tuesday, June 25, 2019 3:44 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Grasses
    by Susun Weed





    A garden catalog (Heronwood) says it poetically: "No wonder visitors feel drawn to the grasses -- we were born in them. Grasses signify water and whisper, 'You're home," more than any other group of plants."


    Few people think of grass as a flowering plant; but it is. Many of us think of grass as a lawn or a golf course, not the sacred sustenance of human kind; but it is. Our ancestors had great respect for the grasses. They, in their multitude, are the beating heart of life on earth, the prime mover of agriculture, and the tuning fork of universal nourishment. The grass family -- the Poaceae -- is found in every habitat all over the world, and includes more than 10,000 plants, all of which bear edible seeds.

    Grass flowers, it is true, are not fancy. You'll need a magnifying lens to see them clearly . They don't have showy, colorful petals. They just have what's needed: male stamen for pollen, female pistil to capture the pollen and gestate the seed.

    And how we value those seeds. Whether it is wheat or rye, oats or barley, corn or millet or rice, almost every person on the planet bases their meals on grain, the seeds of grass. We honor the grain mother whose seeds support our lives: Corn Mother, Ceres (who gives us " cereal"), Demeter, Amaranth Grandmother. Her names are as numerous as Her nourishing seeds, as beautiful as Her seas of golden rippling grass. She sustains us with Her gracious bread of life: mana. "Corn," that is, grain, was the greatest of the Eleusinian mysteries.

    "Sedges have edges; rushes run round; grasses have joints," is the saying I learned to help me distinguish between three look-alike plant families. Sedges, fond of wet places, flower from the sides of stalks which have edges. Rushes, also fond of wet places, flower from the top and have round stalks, no edges, like grass. Grasses prefer dry places and flower from the top of round stalks which are jointed, like bamboo, a woody grass. Pluck a flowering stalk of grass and see if you can find the joints. Then, look at the leaves.

    Like the lily family, members of the grass family have flat, long, narrow leaves with parallel veins. Unlike lily leaves, grass leaves are micro-serrated along the edge. If you gently pull your fingers up the sides of a grass leaf you'll find it's as sharp as a razor. Careful! It can cut! That's one reason we eat the seeds of the grasses and leave the leaves to the animals (with the exception of those who drink wheat grass, a tasty juice which, unfortunately, lacks value as either a curative or a nutritive).

    Sally Fallon, author of Nourishing Traditions Cookbook and advocate of Weston Price, reminds us that grazing animals and grasses benefit each other. It's not a choice between plants and animals, grain or meat. Our planet, and our bodies, need both. Without cattle eating winter wheat shoots, we would lose more than half our grain crops. Why? Because, although grass roots and leaves are extremely cold hardy, the jointed flower/seed stalks are not. Most wheat is sown in the fall, when the soil is drier and easier to work, rather than in the spring when the soil is wet and likely to rot the seeds. If the late fall weather is not cold, however, the grass will start to flower too soon. Pasturing cattle on it prevents this, giving us healthy grass-fed meat and grain to eat as well.
     
    One of my favorite herbs -- oatstraw -- is a grass. Oatstraw is the dried leaves, or straw, of the plant that gives us the grain oats, found in most households as rolled oats. I use a full ounce (by weight) of dried oatstraw, with or without seeds, in a quart of boiling water, steeped at least four hours, to make a restorative tonic. Oatstraw is considered an herb of longevity in India. American herbalists value it as a strengthener and nourisher to the nerves. Like oats themselves, oatstraw infusion is heart healthy and cholesterol-lowering. Many a menopausal woman has praised oatstraw's cooling, calming ways.
     
    There are many stories of grasses. Listen to them; let them take you home. Let them take you back to your Ancestral, sacred self. Herbal medicine is people's medicine, heart medicine -- free, simple, and accessible, a gift of love from our Mother.


    Green Blessings.

  • Thursday, June 20, 2019 4:54 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Cholesterols and Heart Health




    Cholesterols connection to heart attacks has never been proven. And we have virtually no idea what healthy cholesterol is in a post-menopausal woman. Remember, my sweetheart incredibly high cholesterol but never had a heart attack. Inflammation has been shown, over and over, to lead to heart attacks. You may want to consider reducing inflammation instead of cholesterol. One of the best ways to do that is to stop eating oils are pressed from seeds, and to start eating olive oil, organic butter, and the natural fats from organically-raised, pastured animals.

    Canola oil, flax oil, hemp oil, evening primrose oil, soy oil, sesame oil, almond oil, corn oil -- all considered healthy, but examples of the oils I avoid when I want to avoid inflammation. And inflammation underlies and supports heart attack, joint pain, dementia, cancer.


  • Wednesday, June 12, 2019 12:32 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Burdock Vinegar Poultice




    Roll up some big green leaves. Soak them overnight or longer in apple cider vinegar. Use them as poultices to pain anywhere, but especially in the joints. Heat the vinegar soaked leaves, as warm as can be tolerated, before applying them to sore areas. Try heating them in the oven, out in the sun, by steam, or boiling in water. The vinegared leaves may be returned to the vinegar and reused if no infection is present.


  • Wednesday, June 12, 2019 11:52 AM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Wild Seed Condiment

     Susun Weed



    I am especially respectful when harvesting the seeds of annuals. Though annuals do their best to make lots and lots of seeds, they are nonetheless vulnerable to extinction if there are wide swings in weather patterns. I take no more than one-third of what is available from any one plant or patch of plants.


    To begin: Taste the leaves of any wild cabbage family plant. If they are tasty or peppery or cabbagy or mustardy, continue. If they taste bitter, find a different plant to harvest. (A few plants in this family have poisonous seeds. Those taste bitter. ) Shepherd’s purse seeds are the one mostly commonly used for food purposes. I also enjoy “poor person’s pepper” seeds prepared this way.


    Then: Harvest a small amount of seeds, just a spoonful, at first. After your first batch, if you like Wild Seed Condiment, you can harvest larger quantities of seeds.


    Most likely, you will have to separate the seeds from the inedible husks. Fortunately, there is no chaff, so separation can be done easily by hand.


    Toast the seeds in a cast iron frying pan or in a toaster oven until they start to pop.

    Crush seeds, using a pestle and a little sea salt, in a mortar.


    Put in a shaker top jar and use.

  • Monday, June 10, 2019 7:43 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Weed Walk with Susun




    Poison ivy (Rhus toxicodendron, new Rhus radicans) is leaping out of the ground and springing forth from its vines, ready to protect the earth yet again. Leaves in threes are shiny red when they first appear, but soon turn green and blend in with the foliage.





    Five-finger ivy, also called Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) can be mistaken for poison ivy by those who do not count. This is one of the finest of summer’s salad greens. All of the leaves, from the babies to the old seniors, taste delicious. Each size has a somewhat different tart flavor.




    Red maple (Acer rubrus) seedlings are often mistaken for poison ivy too, but they have but two leaves. Like all tree leaves, maple leaves are astringent and mineral rich. 

  • Monday, June 10, 2019 7:28 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Stinging Nettle Hair Tonic
     
    Thickens hair texture, helps eliminate dandruff, aids in preventing hair loss during chemotherapy and in restoring hair growth afterwards.


     

    • 1/2 oz. dried nettle*
    • 2 cups boiling water
    • 1 Tbs. nettle root tincture

    * leaf, stalk, and/or seed
     
    Pour boiling water over nettle in jar, cover tightly and let sit overnight. Next morning, strain into a plastic bottle, and add tincture (optional). Keeps only a day or two. Use as a final rinse after shampoo and conditioner, leaving it in hair.

  • Monday, June 10, 2019 6:36 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)
    NOURISHING THE LIVER
    THE WISE WOMAN WAY, Part Two

    by Susun S Weed


    Part One





    Use herbs that nourish the liver. Simple remedies such as dandelion, yellow dock, chicory, milk thistle, and nettle aid the liver and are safe to use. But many herbal remedies, especially those taken in capsules, are hard on the liver and need to be avoided or used with great care and caution when liver function is not strong.


    Avoid herbs that are rich in alkaloids and other natural chemicals that stress the liver: including golden seal, senna, celandine, chaparral, lobelia, licorice, valerian, rhubarb root, cayenne, and poke root. Some sensitive people may find aromatic herbs such as peppermint, lemon balm, rosemary, thyme, and lavender upsetting to their livers.


    Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is probably the simplest, safest, most effective, and least expensive liver-nourishing herb known. All parts of the plant are medicinal: root, leaves, stalks, and flowers. Tincture of the root is most often used, but root vinegars, flower wine, cooked leaves, and stalk tea may be substituted. The greatest effect comes from eating or taking a dandelion remedy three times a day, but even once a day is useful. For more information on making and taking dandelion remedies, please see my book Healing Wise. The usual dose of the tincture is 10-30 drops diluted in some water and taken before meals. There is no known overdose.


    Yellow dock (Rumex crispus and other species) is another common weed widely used to improve liver functioning. The root is generally tinctured and taken in 20-30 drop doses with meals; but the leaves or seeds can be put up in apple cider vinegar, and 2-3 tablespoonfuls taken on salad, cooked greens, or in water. Yellow dock, like dandelion is simple and safe to use. There is no known overdose. It is a highly effective agent for promoting bowel regularity.


    Chicory (Cichorium intybus) flashes her brilliant blue flowers for months along roadsides here in the northeast. In the fall, we dig her roots to make a liver-strengthening tincture. The dose is usually 20-40 drops three times a day in some water. There is no known overdose. Some folks do drink chicory root tea, but it is very bitter. Roasted chicory roots are used as a coffee substitute; opinion is divided as to whether this preparation still has medicinal qualities.


    Milk thistle seed (Psylibum marianum or Carduus marianum) is the most famous liver tonic in the United States. It is widely recommended for anyone dealing with liver problems, whether it be jaundice, hepatitis, or multiple chemical sensitivities. It is not a wild plant, but it is relatively easy to grow from seed, and the seeds are available and not too expensive. A dose of the tincture is 1-2 dropperfuls 2-4 times a day. There is no known overdose.

    To tincture seeds that you buy, simply fill a jar one-third full of milk thistle seed. Then fill the jar to the top with 100 proof vodka (no, 80 proof won't work). Shake daily for a week, then sit back and wait for five more weeks. After six or more weeks, your tincture is ready to use. Leave the seeds in the vodka for as long as you wish, even after you start using your tincture.


    Milk thistle is most properly thought of as a liver protector. It functions best when taken before the liver encounters alcohol, chemicals, poisons, or other stressors. Those with chemical sensitivities find it helpful to take a large dose of milk thistle seed tincture before venturing into difficult environments.


    Nettle, also known as stinging nettle (Urtica dioica), is one of my favorite herbal remedies for everyone. I pour a quart of boiling water over an ounce of dried nettle (that's about one full cup) in a canning jar, screw a tight lid on the jar, and let it steep for at least four hours.

    The resulting brew, which is dark and rich, nourishes the kidneys and adrenals as well as the liver. Allergic reactions of all kinds, including sensitivities to natural and man-made chemicals, may have as much to do with the adrenals as with the liver. I drink 2-4 cups of nettle infusion daily for optimum health. There is no known overdose.


    Look for results from these Wise Woman ways within a month of beginning regular use. No need to use all the herbs mentioned. Consistent use of even one of them, along with anger work and a good diet, can bring results that border on the miraculous.


    Herbal medicine is people's medicine. It is here for all of us: simple, safe, and free. You don't have to be an herbalist to understand and use the herbs I have discussed. You can buy or make your own remedies, as you wish. Your children will be delighted to join you in exploring the green blessings that grow all around you.

  • Tuesday, June 04, 2019 7:01 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)



    Fresh Cleavers tincture


    Dropperful doses of this tincture relieve PMS, ease tender breasts, and encourage the lymphatic system to work harder, thus relieving edema. Its antispasmodic actions are concentrated in the mucus surfaces of the urinary and digestive systems, make it an ideal ally for those dealing with IC and IBS.

     

    Have a jar, some sharp plant scissors, and 100 proof vodka at hand before you harvest your cleavers.

     

    • Cut the stalks into 1-2 inch pieces and fill a jar totally full with these cut pieces of leaf, flower, stalk, and even seeds.
    • Fill jar with vodka. Lid and label.

    For the first two weeks, I leave my tincture on a table where I can watch it and add more vodka if necessary. Then I put it away.

     

    Like most tinctures made from fresh plant material, this one will be ready
    to use in six weeks.

  • Tuesday, June 04, 2019 5:48 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)



    Bluets or Quaker ladies (Houstonia caerulea) are abundant, long-lasting, smile-makers. Enjoy.





    Blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides) has already flowered and is starting to set seeds. The early plant has a soft blue haze to it, still visible a bit in the photo. It is not related to blue cohosh. (Wait until the early winter to dig roots, if at all. This plant is in danger of overharvesting.)





    Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) is a rare woodland plant. I planted roots gifted to me by United Plant Savers between the black and blue cohoshes and a lovely patch is forming with little daughter plants springing up.

  • Tuesday, June 04, 2019 5:06 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)
    NOURISHING THE LIVER
    THE WISE WOMAN WAY, Part One

    by Susun S Weed





    The liver is one of the most important organs in the body. Commonly referred to as a "filter," the liver is actually more subtle and sophisticated than a passive filter. Every drop of blood in your body moves through your liver every hour of every day you are alive - not to be filtered, but to be restored.


    Think of the liver as a recycling center. As the blood moves through the intricate network of cells that make up the liver, it is carefully examined. Metabolic by-products, hormones, cholesterol, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, bacteria, viral particles, and all the chemical detritus of living that are in the blood are judged: some are allowed to stay, others dismantled for recycling, and some tagged for removal.


    The liver stores very little. It produces bile, which is stored in the gall bladder. With the kidneys, it creates vitamins A and D, and stores those fat soluble products. And, of course, the liver caches unused energy from food in the form of sugar.


    Chemicals, however, do not build up in the liver, despite what you may have read. The liver sends unneeded water-soluble chemicals, such as ammonia, to the kidneys to be excreted. (To get a sense of how quickly this happens, eat some asparagus, which contains a harmful natural chemical, and notice the smell of your urine, and how quickly you have to "go.") The liver incarcerates oil-soluble chemicals by locking them up in fat cells, or sending them to be excreted in breast milk, ejaculations, ovulations, and tears. (Chemicals are not excreted by sweating.)


    The liver can be damaged. Alcohol can kill liver cells. Viruses, especially hepatitis viruses, can destroy liver cells. And cancer can take over the liver and quickly render it dysfunctional. But the liver is amazingly regenerative. Cellular turnover is quite fast. Every cell in a healthy liver is replaced every forty days. Only substances that can keep up with the ever-changing liver are preserved (such as vitamins and sugars); chemical toxins are made homeless.


    To regain and maintain good liver health is reasonably easy if the liver is not too badly damaged. I follow these guidelines to nourish and protect my liver:


    * Avoid liver cleanses. Herbal and other products and regimes which claim to cleanse the liver can damage and destroy cells. The liver cannot be dirty; and it does not need to be cleansed.


    * Eat well and regularly. Fasting reduces liver efficiency quickly.


    * Eat cooked food. Raw food may contain bacterial, viral, and enzymatic substances that create more work for, and may even cause an infection in, the liver. Fruits and vegetables need to be well cooked; steaming may not be enough to kill pathogens.


    * Eat enough fat. But not vegetable oils, which can cause inflammation and increase chemical sensitivities and auto-immune problems. Instead, I use olive oil, butter, and full-fat dairy products. I believe that diets containing 30-35% non-vegetable fats promote both liver and heart health. An article in Science News, May 28, 2005, observes: "In the absence dietary fat [there is] a marked decline in the metabolism of glucose, fatty acids, and cholesterol."


    * Avoid ingesting chemicals. Remember that chemicals are stored in fat and excreted in milk, eggs, and sperm. To avoid chemicals in your food, focus your organic expenditures on organic butter, oil, cheese, full-fat milk, eggs, meat, nuts, seeds, beans, and grains. The amount of agricultural chemicals in one pound of non-organic butter is equivalent to eating non-organic produce for ten years. With the exception of apricots, cherries, peaches, strawberries, melons, cucumbers, green beans, and bell peppers - the most heavily "dosed" produce - I often buy locally-grown non-organic produce since the cost is usually far less.


    * Get angry. The liver is the storehouse of unexpressed rage. And, yes, we are all angry about "life as it is" as one of my teachers puts it. My mentor, Elizabeth Kubler Ross, favored a Manhattan phone book and a rubber radiator hose as a way to "wake up and work out" anger. A rolled-up newspaper and a cushion, a tennis racket and a bed, or even boxing gloves and a "heavy bag" will also work. Don't wait until you are angry. Make it a part of your routine, just like brushing your teeth. Set aside at least thirty minutes a week to bring your anger to the surface. You will be shocked at the rapid benefits this brings your liver and your health.


    * Avoid essential oils. Even natural essential oils can impair liver function. Look for them hidden in natural and organic products such as soaps, toothpaste, mouthwash, skin lotions, deodorants and antiperspirants, and candles. And avoid antibacterial soaps, too.


    To be continued...

      
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