Wise Woman Herbal Ezine

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  • Wednesday, May 29, 2019 2:05 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)


    by Susun Weed

    Linden is one of my favorite trees. It goes by many names: basswood, lime blossom, and tille. To the botanist it is Tillia; and this is the name most of the world knows it by. It thrives in many places and is harvested from China to France for commercial sale.
    When linden blooms, its fragrance is so sweet that the bees flock to it. Their buzzing is the sound one must tune in to if identifying linden by sound. (I usually find them by smell!) When I harvest linden blossoms, I am careful to wait until after the bee has left the flower, so I don’t get stung.

    “I smell fairies at my feet, I’m sitting under a linden tree;
    Bees abuzz and birds atweet, linden blossoms sure smell sweet.
    Linden, linden heal my heart,
    You can bring me a brand new start.”

    Linden blossoms hang from a green strap-like structure that looks a little like a leaf, but isn’t. The green structure is part of the remedy and needs to be harvested along with the cluster of flowers dangling under it.

    I reach for linden when I want to quell inflammation. A student lowered her C-reactive protein (C-rP) levels, and her risk of suffering a heart attack, by drinking linden infusion for three weeks. C-reactive protein is a measure of the amount of inflammation in the blood vessels specifically and the overall body in general. With the licensing of a drug (Crestor, rosuvastatin calcium) to lower C-rP levels, we are going to be hearing lots more about this substance in the near future.

    Lowering inflammation is key to achieving a happy, healthy old age. Toward that end, I drink at least two quarts of linden infusion a week. I believe that most chronic diseases are the end result of inflammation. Joint pain is inflammation. Dementia is inflammation. Blood vessel disease is inflammation. And adult-onset diabetes is inflammation. It seems to me that many cancers are a response to inflammation too. A recent study found women who taken NSAIDs regularly are less likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer.

    Linden is the world’s leading anti-cold and anti-flu herb. It prevents and heals all respiratory distresses (but is not an anti-infective). It is a cooling and strengthening herb. Linden is considered safe for children and elders.

    Linden is primarily used as a tea, though I prefer the curative powers of a strong infusion. I use one-half ounce of linden blossoms to a quart of water and steep for four hours. I strain off the first brew and refrigerate it, then rebrew the wet linden flowers by adding two cups of cold water to them in a saucepan. I bring this rebrew to a boil, cover, and let sit for four hours to extract the healing mucilage that is triggered by the cold water.

    Linden flowers are the usual medicine, but the leaves are medicinal as well. They are heart-shaped and even more mucilaginous and anti-inflammatory than the blossoms.. A student who had been kicked by a horse found relief from a nasty wound (already more than a week old) by applying chewed up linden leaf. If I didn’t have so much plantain at hand, I am sure I would use more linden leaf poultices.
    Linden grows well in cities; I have rarely been in a city in North America or Europe that does not a Linden Avenue. A highlight of my love affair with linden come with a visit to Linderhof in Bavaria. The day I got there, the three-hundred-year-old linden tree was blooming and buzzing and throwing off a scent that made me swoon with delight. My local lindens are tall at fifty feet. This giant was over a hundred feet.

  • Monday, May 27, 2019 6:54 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Weed Walk with Susun -
    Cresses and More

    Couldn't resist this lovely little cress (Cardamime species).
    After I photographed it, I ate it.

    Sheep sorrel (Rumex acetosella) gives a sour twist to salad greens.

    Wild madder (Galium mollugo) is related to sweet woodruff, the flavoring for
    May wine. I put tender tips in salads.

    Plantain (Plantago major) can be found in protected places and
    used to heal wounds.

    Snip up wild chives for salads; snap them up for vinegars.

  • Tuesday, May 14, 2019 5:14 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Weed Walk with Susun

    Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) of the buttercup family is an endangered flower. Enjoy with your eyes. Protect it.

    Toothwort (Dentaria diphylla), also called pepperwort, is a lovely low-growing plant in the mustard family. Bite a leaf if you dare; they bite back!

    Dog violet (Viola conspersa) flowers make a lovely snack while walking in the woods.

    Gaywings (Polygala paucifolia), also called fringed polygala, is a rare delight in the late spring forest. Protect it.

     Black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa, now Actaea racemosa) flings its black hands into the light just as the leaves are emerging on the trees. (Wait until the early winter to dig roots, if at all. This plant is at risk of over-harvesting. ) It is part of the dangerous, poisonous, buttercup family. 

  • Tuesday, April 23, 2019 5:21 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Herbed Burdock

    Preparation time: With precooked burdock, 15 minutes at the most.
    Add another 45 minutes to soak and cook burdock. Serves 6-8.

    • 4 cups / 1 liter burdock root
    • 3 tablespoons / 45ml olive oil
    • 3 tablespoons / 45ml butter
    • 4 oz / 125ml fresh herbs
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 Tbs / 30ml lemon juice
    • 2 tablespoons / 30ml tamari

    Soak and parboil burdock root or stalk. If you use chilled, already cooked burdock, warm it. Heat oil and butter. Add burdock, then garlic and herbs. Stir and heat together for a minute, then add tamari and lemon juice. Serve hot.

    (Note: Burdock root can be found in the produce department of some supermarkets)
    Burdock Recipes excerpt from Susun Weed's Healing Wise.

  • Tuesday, April 02, 2019 1:55 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Weed Walk with Susun

    Common chickweed (Stellaria media)
    Try her in salads.


    Our friends garlic mustard (Alliaria officinalis) and cronewort (Artemisia vulgaris)

    are still tops in salads and for vinegars.

    Baby nettle (Urtica dioica) makes a lovely vinegar.

     Oxeye daisy (Chrysanthemum leucanthemum) is a weed as well as a
    cultivated plant. Try a leaf or two in your salad.

  • Tuesday, April 02, 2019 1:42 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Easy Homemade Yogurt

    (pictured here with astragalus powder)

    • 1 gallon/4 liters milk, any kind
    • 1 cup/250 ml plain yogurt with active cultures
    • Heat milk over a low flame in a glass or enamel pot. Stir and feel frequently. When milk feels just a little warm (105ºF/37ºC), remove from heat.

    Put yogurt into a glass bowl or quart/liter measuring cup. Add a cup/250 ml of warmed milk.

    Stir well. Pour this mix into a one-gallon glass jar. (Ask a local restaurant or deli for one.) Add all the rest of the warmed milk, stir well with a wooden spoon, cap, and set to rest in a warm place (100–110ºF/37–39ºC) for 8–24 hours.

    The longer it sits, the easier it will be to digest. Keeps refrigerated for four to six weeks

    Excerpt from New Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way

  • Monday, March 18, 2019 7:30 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    What's Science Got to Do With It?

    by Susun S Weed

    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-wif 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 twentieth 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, and 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 so 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.

  • Wednesday, February 06, 2019 6:17 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Celebrating 35 Years of Shamanic Herbal Apprentices

    1998: Tree Time

    I guess my powers of observation are not so hot, as I don’t recognize the back of anyone in this fun shot taken at a class. (Never enough baskets!) We are on our way to harvest nettle, with a detour to talk to a tree.  


    1999:  Goat Time        

    Herding the goats is a favorite apprentice task. The goats are such loving teachers. Being alone with the herd in the forest in a magical adventure. Manora (189) and her visiting family and Parnee bring the goats around to the deck for a long drink. Green blessings.

  • Wednesday, February 06, 2019 6:08 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Celebrating 35 Years of Shamanic Herbal Apprentices

    Apprentice Time

    The Wise Woman Way nourishes the wholeness of the unique individual. Wholeness means all of us, not just the parts that are proficient. Apprentices stretch their minds and their muscles when they take on various tasks.

    Here is Emily laughing it up in the medicine-making room. She is a generous soul who offers much in many ways to others. Much love strong woman.

    I think this is AnnMarie (165) tending to the plants on the deck with her radiant smile.

    Here is Parnee (193) milking Ereshkigal. Thanks for keeping in touch, girlfriend. Love you.

    And Ada Belinda milking Violet. One of the most creative apprentices, ever! Love Love Love.

    And Belinda in the office. I love you and can hardly believe you are selling the farm and moving back home to far away Finland. I know you will carry the Wise Woman tradition with you, no matter where you go. Thank you sister.

    ~ Page 3 ~

  • Wednesday, February 06, 2019 5:56 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Celebrating 35 Years of Shamanic Herbal Apprentices

    1996:  Class Time

    The apprentices attend all of my classes with me, whether away from or at home. This photo is from a class at the Wise Woman Center. Starting from me (headband in front on the left) and going in a clockwise direction, we have: McKenzie (139), then a lovely lady, then Ursula, with bandana, and then I don’t know who else. If you recognize yourself, please let me know.

    1996Under the Linden Tree

    There is a large linden (Tillia) tree overhanging the deck where we gather, where we eat, where we meet for rituals, where we sometimes have class. You can see her large leaves in this photo of three apprentice sisters. That’s Heidi-Sioux (145) in the middle, spreading joy. And maybe Carol and Holly with her. Please note that an herbalist cannot have too many baskets.

    1997:  Trance Time

    Journey with us to the heart of the earth. Follow the beat of the drum. Even the goats have settled down. Breathe slowly and easily. Relax. The first face on the left is Tony/a’s (144). She runs an herbal school, mothers an incredible daughter, teaches herbal medicine and I don’t know what else. The herbs she brought back for me from her visit home to Greece still hang on my kitchen wall. Love you; hope our paths cross soon. Is that Lora behind the sunglasses? It is, for sure, Kahla (138) next to me wearing a hat. She also runs an herbal school and teaches herbal medicine (brilliantly). Love you too. I am uncertain about the four women on the other side of me, except for Caraway (140) in the striped shirt.

    ~ Page 2 ~

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