Wise Woman Herbal Ezine

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  • Monday, March 24, 2014 4:26 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Green-ing greetings.

    There’s still lots of snow here, and more to come, we are told, but the green is not letting that stop it!

    Under the snow, bulbs are sending up green shoots. Look! My snowdrops are blooming right through the snow. I know there are lots more under there. Just a little more sun and they will be revealed too. Followed by the crocuses and daffodils.

    Have you been watching the tree buds? A month ago they began to swell ever so slightly as the sap began to run. Now those buds are coloring up. Soon the leaves they enclose will spring forth, as if by magic. Squirrels are running up and down the trees eating lots of buds and chattering wildly about the longer days.

    Lots more birds, too. I was awakened the other morning by the cacophony of bird song outside my closed window. Wonder what they were chatting about? Owlets are hatching, the vultures have returned (to eat all the things revealed by the melting snow, no doubt), and robins search the edges of the snow-covered lawns hoping for an early worm.

    Much as I love the return of the green, I am also sad to see the end of winter and quiet time for writing. I am so enjoying creating my new course on heart health. Here is a selection from it for you nuts. Yes, on nuts. Grab some to munch as you read and enjoy.

    Green blessings are rising.

    ~ Page 2 ~
  • Tuesday, March 11, 2014 3:37 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    9.    Nuts, including peanuts, provide lots of cholesterol-countering fiber and plenty of heart-healthy vitamins and minerals. Special phytochemicals found in nuts lower blood pressure, total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, while raising HDL cholesterol. Recent studies at Yale have found as little as two ounces of walnuts a day can significantly improve blood vessel health.

    10.    Oats are a prime example of the heart health contained in whole grains. Insoluble fibers in whole grains – including whole wheat, brown rice, quinoa, amaranth, kasha, millet, corn, and oats – prevent the body from absorbing cholesterol. They also even out blood sugar and help prevent adult-onset diabetes, a risk factor for heart disease. I drink 1-2 quarts of oatstraw infusion a week and eat rolled or steel cut oats 2-3 times a month.

    11.    Olive oil lowers inflammation and counters cholesterol. It lowers LDL, keeps blood circulating freely (thins the blood, so to speak), counters stickiness of the cells, and moderates blood sugar swings too. Only extra virgin olive oil contains heart-healthy polyphenols. I consume 1-4 tablespoonfuls of extra virgin olive oil daily.

    12.    Pomegranate juice gives us the benefit of the entire fruit: rind, seeds, and fleshy, juicy arils. The medicinal properties, including polyphenols, are most concentrated in the hard parts, so commercial juice is more effective for heart health than eating raw pomegranate. I drink ½-1 cups of pomegranate juice a week.

    13.    Shiitake are the mushroom that we take to heart.  Exposed to direct sunlight, they produce vitamin D even after being dried. Shiitake are a proven ally to anyone desiring a healthy heart. I eat shiitake cooked in soup or add shiitake vinegar to my cooked greens at least once a week.

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  • Tuesday, March 11, 2014 2:42 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    5.    Garlic offers heart health, resistance to cancer, and better circulation in one little clove. Regular use lowers blood pressure, reduces cholesterol, strengthens the heart, reduces platelet clumping, and stabilizes blood sugar. I make it a point to include garlic and garlic powder in my daily diet.

    6.    Leafy greens such as kale, collards, spinach, beet greens, amaranth greens, lamb’s quarter, and chard – when well cooked, but not when raw – provide alpha-linolenic acid, which acts like the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish. They are also incredibly dense in vitamins and minerals needed for heart and blood vessel health. Fiber, and cooked greens are a great source of fiber, helps counter cholesterol. I eat 5-7 servings of cooked leafy greens a week.

    7.    Honey is soothing to the heart. Studies have found that regular consumption of honey decreases cholesterol, lowers HDL, reduces homocysteine, and even brings down C-reactive protein. I eat 1-3 teaspoons of honey a day.

    8.    Kelp – sold as wakame, kombu, or bullwhip kelp – takes some getting used to, but repays the effort in longevity and freedom from heart woes. I eat at least one dish (beans, rice, oatmeal, soup) containing cooked kelp weekly.

    ~ Page Four ~
  • Tuesday, March 11, 2014 1:58 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)
    My top thirteen food-herbs for a healthy heart are:

    1.    Avocados look like the heart and are ever so good for it. Avocados also provide lots of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats as well as blood-pressure lowering potassium.  Avocados are also an excellent source of phytosterols, compounds that compete with cholesterol, and usually win, thus lowering total circulating cholesterol. Since avocados are expensive, I usually eat no more than 1-2 a week.

    2.    Berries, including blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, and cranberries, make the heart leap for joy. Their polyphenols neutralize oxidized LDL, preventing it from forming plaque in the arteries. I eat 6-12 ounces of frozen berries a week. University of Scranton Pennsylvania researchers confirm that drinking cranberry juice daily can raise HDL cholesterol, decrease atherosclerosis, prevent plaque formation, and reduce overall heart disease by 40 percent.

    3.    Dark Chocolate does it all. Chocolate is loaded with heart healthy phytochemicals that keep blood pressure low, curb oxidation of LDL, prevent the build-up of plaque, protect the heart and blood vessels from damage, and, like a baby aspirin, keep the blood thin and freely flowing. There’s a reason chocolates come in a heart shaped box. I eat 1-4 ounces of the darkest chocolate I can find at least three times a week.

    4.    Fatty fish such as salmon, trout, herring, sardines, mackerel, barramundi, and anchovies are the leading source of omega-3 fatty acids. These essential fats lower heart rate, lower blood pressure, keep the blood vessels flexible, and prevent (or treat) arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats). Numerous studies confirm that the more fish in the diet, the lower the risk of dying from heart disease. I eat fatty fish at least twice a week, often more. Canned fish are just as good, or better, than fresh fish in terms of heart health and nutritional value.

  • Tuesday, March 11, 2014 12:21 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)
    Green greetings.

    We are still deep in snow. Everywhere you look is snow, snow, snow. Under there, somewhere under there, under that blanket of snow, the snowdrops are blooming, they are, I swear. But it will be weeks before I get to see their delicate petals and green throats.

    All this snow reminds me of the workshop at the Wise Woman Center some time ago, a workshop with White Feather, it was. It snowed three feet and blew six foot drifts. Seriously. We had to shovel ourselves into the classroom and then shovel ourselves out again. All our cars were totally buried. Nature is powerful and stunning!

    The heart health teleseminar Robin Rose Bennett and I did last month caused quite a stir of interest. I am so glad. So glad the message is being received: Herbs and whole foods make a heart healthy, not drugs. Want to know more? How? Specifics? So do I, that’s why I created a new course for you at the Wise Woman University: A Healthy Heart, the Wise Woman Way.

    As Robin Rose said on our encore teleseminar, “the heart is the spirit of the person.” A healthy heart is the keystone to good health, for an unhealthy heart contributes to dementia, kidney disease, diabetes, even loss of eyesight. I’ve been following the literature, and am happy to report that more and more studies are confirming that cardiovascular health is strongly influenced by diet.

    The recently concluded  European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition Heart Study – which followed more then 3000,000 people between the ages of 40-85 for more than eight years – found that diets high in cooked vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, fish, wine, and fruit and low in salt, preserved meats, and processed foods, help keep the heart and blood vessels healthy. Women who ate the most leafy greens – and nourishing herbal infusions count as leafy greens – were the least likely to die of coronary disease.

    I am excited to know that it is so easy to have a healthy heart as I age, with no need for drugs. I invite you to share the journey with me in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, here’s a sneak preview from lesson one.

    Green blessings

  • Wednesday, March 05, 2014 1:53 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)
    Homemade Balsamic Vinegar

    This easy vinegar is a delicious way to ingest natural vitamin C, trace minerals, and anti-infective, anti-oxidant resins. It may be made any day of the year, including in the middle of the winter.

    • Fill a jar to the very top with needles from your favorite pine tree.
    In the Northeast, white pine is the tastiest. In the west, pinon pine tops the list. No pine is poisonous, so feel free to experiment with your local pines. Pines have long, thin needles, not short, flat needles like poisonous yew. If you are uncertain about the pine you have in mind, make a small amount the first time. Some pines are too resinous to make tasty vinegars.
    • Then fill your jar with apple cider vinegar.
    • Put a plastic, glass, cork, or other non-metal lid on the jar.
    • Wait six weeks, then add to salads, soups, beans, anywhere you would use regular balsamic vinegar.
    If you are particularly impatient you could start using your homemade balsamic vinegar in as little as two weeks. The longer it sits, the better it gets.
  • Wednesday, March 05, 2014 10:53 AM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Warm Greetings to You All from Sunny Florida

    Here’s a shot of me with some of the wonderful, juicy, green folk at the Florida Herb Conference. The yummy ones of Learning Herbs, to be specific: John and his delightful children.

    I had a most glorious time at the conference, though getting there presented a challenge. My plane to Orlando on Thursday was canceled and I had to arise by 3:30am on Friday, the day of my intensive, to catch a 6am flight. (Those who know me well, know I strive to avoid doing anything at those times!) And instead of a direct flight of 2 ½ hours, I was routed through Baltimore to Indianapolis and then on to Orlando, for a total of 6 ½ hours. Oy vey.

    My travel guardian came though. I found a direct flight from Baltimore to Orlando (no offense Indianapolis) and asked to be put on standby.  “No chance. This is a completely full, oversold flight,” I was told. So when all the passengers had boarded, I picked up my bags to walk to the gate for my flight to Indiana. As I walked off, I heard my name. Turned. Was motioned to the gate. And let on the plane!

    My suitcase full of books went to Indianapolis and arrived on Saturday, with the lock was jammed. I unjammed it with a screwdriver, and tore the skin off two fingers. Bloody mess. Really, lots of blood dripping off my hand. I turned around, to the green friends growing behind me, looking for help, and there was Spanish needles, the ubiquitous weed of Florida. Without hesitation, I picked some, chewed it, and applied it to my wounded fingers.

    The bleeding stopped immediately! Faster than yarrow. Someone went in search of, found, and brought to me, some Florida plantain: fuzzy as all get out, with round little protrusions off the edge of the leaf. It tasted just like plantain though when I chewed it for a spit poultice to put under a handy sticky bandage.

    And on the weekend went, with delicious food, a fantastic presentation by David Winston on the history of herbalism in America, lots of classes, singing, and green blessings. Don’t miss next year’s Florida Herbal Conference. It is superbly organized, genial, fun, and a great way to increase your herbal knowledge.

    Herbal medicine is people’s medicine. And green blessings are everywhere.


    We have a shorter ezine this week but enjoy Susun's recipe for homemade balsamic vinegar. It's a great time of the year to make it!

    ~ Page 2 ~

  • Monday, February 24, 2014 12:46 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Simple, common honey is one of the most ancient of herbal medicines and a great ally to a healthy heart. This is in direct contrast to refined white sugar, which many believe is a cause of heart and blood vessel disease.

    Honey is a powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial agent. Studies have found that regular consumption of honey decreases cholesterol, lowers HDL, reduces homocysteine, and even brings down C-reactive protein. Honey increases the benefits derived from fermented foods and aids in absorption of calcium as well. (Calcium helps muscles, like the heart, not just the bones.)

    An enzyme in bee saliva converts flower nectar to honey. The darker the honey, the more powerful the effects. And one of the very best ways to increase the medicinal activity of honey is to pour it over aromatic herbs and let them steep together for a while.

    In the photograph you can see part of my shelf of medicinal honeys: sage, rosemary, marjoram, dandelion blossom, shiso, mints of all types, lemon balm. A spoonful in a cup of hot water and you have an instant remedy for sore throat, coughs, and mild colds.

    If you live where it is warm, make some medicinal honey today. Just cut any edible aromatic herb fine, stuff a jar full and fill the jar to the top with honey. I poke mine with a chopstick to be certain the honey has gone all the way to the bottom. Check the next day and add more honey if need be.

    If you live where it is cold, perhaps you have a rosemary or a sage plant overwintering in your house. If you do, they would love a trim about now. It will jump start new growth. Just use the trimmings to make your medicinal honey.

    In a placebo-controlled trial, the coughs of children who received honey were relieved twice as fast as those who received the most common over-the-counter medication for coughs. (The placebo group got well at about the same rate as those receiving the OTC cough syrup.)

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  • Monday, February 24, 2014 12:21 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)
    Greetings to you all.

    Whew! What a bunch of snow and ice and weather we have been having. My driveway could be a winter Olympics site: icy and steep and worse now that it is thawing.

    I am reminded that the old timers looked forward to the snow and hard freezes because it made the roads smooth! Traveling by sleigh was much more comfortable than being bounced to death in a carriage.

    Last week I mentioned that snow is poor person’s fertilizer. Every drop of rain and every snowflake starts with a grain of dust. The snow and the rain bring those mineral-rich grains down with them when they fall, fertilizing and aiding the plants. As I said, if rain were purifying, we would live on a sterile planet.

    I can hear the plants breathing a sigh of ease now that their roots are deeply buried in the snow. This will protect them from frost heaves, which occur when the frozen ground is warmed by the sun shining right on it. Frost heaves have torn a large chunk (bigger than a car) out of the paved road that runs by Laughing Rock Farm.

    Live-out apprentices wanted. After a string of years with big groups of live-out apprentices, no one, not a soul, has applied for the live-out program this year. Read all about it here and give me a call (I am in the office on Wednesdays from 11am to 4pm east coast time) if you have questions.
    We also have a few spots left for the Green Goddess Week. White Feather and Yvette and I look forward to spending deep time with you. It is not too late to apply.

    I will be teaching in Orlando this weekend. Hope to see lots of Southern friends there, including you.

    Did you know that honey has lots of benefits for the heart? The teleseminar Robin Rose Bennett and I did on heart health got me interested in the best foods for the heart. My pick of the 13 best foods for your heart includes avocado, berries, chocolate, fatty fish, garlic, honey, kelp, leafy greens, nuts, oats and oatstraw, olive oil, pomegranate juice, and shiitake mushrooms.

    Herbalists, of course, tend to consume a lot of honey. So glad to know it is good for my heart. And even better when combined with herbs. I’ll show you how on the next page.

    Green blessings.

    ~ Page Two ~
  • Tuesday, February 18, 2014 10:51 AM | Wise Woman (Administrator)
    Wild'n Oats

    If you are pressed for time, gather and measure your ingredients the night before. You will need water, oats, seaweed, wild seeds, sea salt, and potent powders. Everything except the oats and the seaweed is optional, so use what you have. Now’s the time to commit to harvesting some wild seeds this summer for your Wild n’ Oats next winter.

    My favorite seaweed for this breakfast is Nereocystis kelp, also known as bladderwhip kelp. I get mine from Ryan Drum, who confirmed for me recently that it is perfectly safe, better, perfectly health-promoting, to eat west coast seaweeds despite the nuclear accident in Japan.

    It is great fun to have an assortment of wild seeds to choose from. Here are my jars of lamb’s quarter seeds, nettle seeds, amaranth seeds, plantain seeds.

    And here is a close-up of plantain seed, known to reduce cholesterol, improve gut flora, and keep you regular.

    This one is nettle seed. A boon ally to the prostate. If he eats it in his oatmeal, so much the better, don’t you agree? Wink.

    And here is lamb’s quarter seed, or wild quinoa, a highly alkalinizing grain which is super easy to harvest in quantity from nearly any garden or farm.

    Choose from any non-processed powdered herbs or foods. Here is astragalus powder, slippery elm powder, powered medicinal mushrooms, and some new products I was sent to try, powdered chia seed and powdered brown rice bran and germ.

    Measure 3 cups of cold water, place in your pan, add a handful of crushed kelp, and bring to a boil. (Okay to measure the water and add the kelp the night before.)

    While the water is coming to a boil, put a scant cup of oats in a measuring cup. Add 1 tablespoon each of up to three different wild seeds. (Okay to do the night before.)

    Add the oats and seeds to the boiling water/seaweed and stir well. Lower the fire and add 1 tablespoon of one or two potent powders. (Choose and measure these the night before and put them in a small bowl. Add the salt to the powders.)

    Don’t forget to add some sea salt. Without it the oatmeal will taste bland. I find a heaping ¼ teaspoonful is just right.

    Cook, covered, stirring now and then, until all the water is absorbed, which usually takes 15-20 minutes. Be careful it does not boil over, as it will make a sticky, gummy mess.

    Express route instructions: Turn on the fire under the saucepan which already contains three cups of water and a handful of crushed seaweed and go brush your hair and/or your teeth. When you are done, and the water has come to a boil, add the measured oats and seeds. Stir. Add the measured potent powders. Stir. Lower fire. Put a lid on the pot loosely, and get ready for work, stirring your oats once or twice as you pass by. When you are ready, it is too. Eat. Enjoy!

    Green blessings are everywhere, even under the snow.

    Here is my complete breakfast: A large glass of iced infusion (yes, even in the winter, I prefer my infusion iced), a big bowl of Wild n’ Oats garnished with a tablespoon of butter and a teaspoon of elderberry jam, and four whole wheat crackers spread with homemade fermented cheese and smoked salmon. Yum!

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