Wise Woman Herbal Ezine

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  • Wednesday, August 21, 2019 5:27 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Weed Walk with Susun...

    Elder (Sambucus canadensis)

    Elder is a mysterious, medicinal, and magical tree said to be inhabited by a spirit, often called “Elda Mohr,” or “Frau Hollender,” who takes revenge on those who do not respect the elder. To cut or burn elder is thought to be such bad luck that a major road works in England was redesigned when the workers refused to destroy a lush stand of elder. Elder berries are anti-viral. The flowers counter fevers. We will make elder remedies later in the year. Elder does just as well in your garden or by the road as it does in the woods.

    Partridge berry (Mitchella repens)

    This creeping plant has a reputation as a medicine plant but is rarely used. I wrote a monograph on it in The United Plant Savers book Saving the Future. The red berries are perfectly safe to eat, though tasteless. Partridge berry is often confused with wintergreen, as they are both small plants with large red berries. The smell is the real identifying mark, which you have to experience in person. Protect this plant.

    Horsetail (Equisetum arvense)

    Horsetail is one of the few non-flowering, non-mushroom plants commonly used by herbalists. My teachers were insistent that it be picked before the end of May, so get out and get it if you are planning to use it this year. Apparently, the silica content gets higher and higher as the plant grows, making the older plants problematic for the kidneys. A pinch of horsetail added to other infusions is said to make the minerals even more active and absorbable. 

  • Wednesday, August 21, 2019 4:27 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Phystoestrogens - Friends or Foe?
    by Susun S. Weed

    Phytoestrogens are weak hormones found in many plants. They are currently being promoted, sometimes in highly refined forms, for relief of the symptoms of menopause. Are they safe~ Can they promote breast cancer~

    We know that increased exposure to hormones - such as those used in the cattle industry, those given to women during menopause, those taken by women engaged in hi-tech pregnancy efforts, and even those naturally produced by our own bodies - increases our risk of being diagnosed with cancer, especially breast cancer. And many believe that hormone-like chemicals - xenoestrogens - increasingly found in our food and water, contribute to cancer as well. Doesn't that imply that phytoestrogens will increase cancer risk too~

    Virtually everything we eat - grains, beans, nuts, seeds, seed oils, berries, fruits, vegetables, and roots - contains phytoestrogens. Scientists measuring the amount of phytoestrogen break-down by-products in the urine of healthy women found that those with the least were four times more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer than with the most. Phytoestrogens actually appear to protect tissues from the cancer-causing effects of xenoestrogens and other hormonal pollutants.

    This seems simple - eat more phytoestrogens, be healthier - and it is, so long as we restrict ourselves to eating plants. But when the difference between food and medicine is disregarded, when phytoestrogens are isolated and concentrated, sold to us in pills and candy bars, then the equation changes: phytoestrogens become dangerous hormones, quite capable of promoting cancer.

    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, for instance, 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 but not daily and in moderate quantity.
    ~ I take phytoestrogenic herbs rarely, usually in small amounts and 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

    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.

    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.

    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 berries, 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.

    Phytoestrogens can be our friends. In a world that seems increasingly hostile and threatening, green allies offer us ways to stay safe and healthy, so long as we use them with wisdom and honor.

    This article is based on information in Susun's book,
    New Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way.

  • Wednesday, August 07, 2019 4:01 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Herbal Adventures with Susun S Weed
    Susun Weed in Provence

    My capable mountain pony and I are following a barely discernible trail -- thank goodness for the lead horse's clearly visible tail -- through the wild mountain passes and lavender fields of Provence, in the south of France. Since morning we have been slowly wending our way up out of the valley and into the high mountain passes, through thickets of oak and pine which grow right to the edge of the trail.

    It is difficult to convince her to turn aside -- and I am loathe to force the issue given the narrowness and the steepness of the trail -- so I just lean forward and plaster myself to my steed's neck as she makes her way under the low-hanging branches. Warmed by the bright sun, the pine needles exude a deep, resinous scent. It seems to fill my skull, leaving no room for the (literally) breath-taking views as we climb up along the mountain spine.

    After hours of switch-backs -- and an ever-increasing intimacy with my horse's neck and the hazards of low branches -- we emerge into a natural clearing. With a rush of joy, and no trees to impede her, my mount flings herself into a gallop. We streak across a meadow densely tufted with low, purple-flowered thyme, and embroidered with stitches of rosemary and clover. On my left, in the far distance, snow-covered peaks rise (the Alps). On my right, far, far below, sequins of sunlight twinkle on an azure backdrop (the Mediterranean).

    When our gallop is over, we stop. I close my eyes and inhale. I smell the actual scents of this mountain peak -- pine and thyme, stone and oak -- and I also smell, in memory, the scents of the flowering plants I have been riding through. Bowers of fragrant roses have scattered their petals across my shoulders (and scratched my arms). Honey-bee-buzzing linden trees heavy with honeyed flowers have brushed my face and left little remembrances in my hair as we clip-clopped across the village cobbles. Huge bushes of foamy-white, deliciously-perfumed elder blossoms have held out their witching arms and enticed me to pick them. The past, the future, and the present combine in one marvelous moment and I am filled with joy. Ah -- to be alive! How perfect! How glorious!

    But what goes up usually comes down, and that is when the fun really begins. As my mountaineering friend Dolores La Chapelle used to remind me: "You can get up almost any mountain; it's getting down that's the problem." The path seems to fling itself off the edge of the world, and my horse follows. There's nothing but sky in front of me and the ground is terribly far below. (And though I am fairly certain that my mountain pony is in touch with the ground, I surely am not.) When I finally stop holding my breath, I realize the air is scented with some fragrance whose name I do not know. What is releasing such an alluring scent? Could it be this shrub with the arching masses of amazing yellow flowers? The mountainside is covered with it. It looks like scotch broom. "No," my guide informs me, "That is genet."

    We are both right, of course. Genet is a kind of scotch broom (Cytisus). As such, it is a member of the bean family: A powerful earth-healing tribe of plants with the amazing ability to fix nitrogen, thus enriching the earth. The bean family (formerly known as the Leguminosa, but now called Fabaceae) includes healing plants such as red clover (Trifolium pratense) and astragalus (Astragalus membranaceous) -- both known as immune system builders and anti-cancer helpers -- and harmful plants such as loco weed and scotch broom, both of which are considered poisonous.

    There is a lot to not like about scotch broom. Animals rarely eat it, and with good reason. It causes violent vomiting (emetic), copious urination (diuretic), and purging diarrhea (cathartic). As an herbal medicine it can be more troublesome than helpful. A few adventurous souls who have smoked the flowers confirm the hallucinatory properties of the plant. (And no gut-wrenching side effects; although it may increase the heart beat, sometimes alarmingly). Midwives have a special use for it, too. But most of us wisely leave this plant alone.

    And that is her intention. I understand (and appreciate) scotch broom as an earth-healing plant. When trees are stripped from hillsides, whether by natural disaster or human need, the earth attempts to heal herself by growing special plants which have special healing abilities -- for Her, not us. In fact, one of the main ways these plants heal is by expelling, or, if possible, removing all animals (including humans) from the place that needs healing. Earth-healing plants are good for the earth but are often dangerous to us (even when possessing edible or medicinal parts). Some of the nicer ones include stinging nettle and brambles (including blackberry, raspberry, greenbriar, and wild rose). Some of the nastier ones include poison ivy/poison oak and rhododendrons (even the honey made from rhododendron flowers is poisonous).

    Although native to Europe, Cytisus has made itself at home in the western United States, especially in clear-cut areas. It is generally considered invasive and obnoxious. The French version grows in the same situations (as we crossed the ridge and began our descent, we entered managed forests which are clear cut in rotation), but its fragrance sets it apart.

    The odor of genet is spicy, sweet, and intoxicating. Its bright yellow pea-blossom-like flowers exude an aroma that can only be called "strong" -- not in a cloying sense, but in a penetrating way. The scent seems to permeate all my senses, inviting, no, urging me to enjoy life to the fullest.

    As I rode, the smell of genet turned into a song. As my sure-footed pony walked, trotted, and cantered down the mountain a song burst out of my heart. I didn't feel like I was making it up; I felt like I was receiving it into my body. The words, the melody, the rhythm -- all partook of and gave out the sweetness and beauty of the plants, the mountains, the Earth. Verse after verse took shape and sounded its notes. Yet when I sat down that evening to commit it to paper, most of the verses were gone. I know where they went: the sun ate a bunch of them, and wind took some home to play with, and I left a few as a "thank you" gift to the mountains as well. Since I can't put a "scratch and sniff" in this magazine (and how I would love for you to be able to smell genet), here is my song. Enjoy!

    Chorus: Genet, genet, you smell so sweet;
    Genet you make my senses reel;
    Genet, genet, you have
    The sweetest smell.

    The lavender that grows in rows,
    It scents our clothes and things;
    Has a smell gets up your nose,
    But it's of genet I sing.


    The roses bloom in white and pink,
    And every rose has thorns;
    They have a smell that's not a stink,
    But of genet I'll blow my horn.


    The irises they sure are fine
    Their colors can't be beat
    And they smell good all of the time
    But let me now repeat.




  • Tuesday, July 30, 2019 5:22 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Nutrition, Part Two
    by Susun Weed

    Vitamins are small organic compounds made by all living tissues. They are found in whole, fresh foods. Vitamins are absorbed best from dried, fermented, or cooked foods. Some vitamins are fat-soluble (A, E, D); some are water-soluble (B, C). All vitamins are groups of related enzymes that function together. Eighteen hundred carotenes and carotinoids contribute to the liver's production of vitamin A, two dozen tocopherols function together as vitamin E, and only when ascorbic acid is joined by bioflavonoids and carotenes does it function as vitamin C.


    Healthy diets supply adequate vitamins so long as refined foods are rarely eaten. "Enriched" flour is really impoverished, as it does not contain the entire complement of B vitamins and minerals found in the whole grain. When vitamins are synthesized in the laboratory, their complexity is reduced to one active ingredient. In situations of impoverishment and famine, supplements have health benefits. They do not replace healthy food, however, and long-term use of vitamin supplements poses health risks including more aggressive cancers (alpha tocopherol), faster growing cancers (ascorbic acid), and increased risk of cancer and heart disease (beta carotene).


    Minerals are inorganic compounds found in all plant and animal tissues as well as bones, hair, teeth, finger and toenails, and, of course, rocks. Minerals are also found in, and critical for, optimum functioning of the nervous, immune, and hormonal systems, and all muscles, including the heart. Our need for some minerals, such as potassium, magnesium, manganese, and calcium, is large. But for trace minerals, such as selenium, iodine, molybdenum, boron, silicon, and germanium, our needs are minuscule. (4)


    Minerals may be difficult to get, even in a healthy diet. Overuse of chemical fertilizers reduces mineral content. According to US Department of Agriculture figures, during the period 1963-1992, the amount of calcium in fruits and vegetables declined an average of 30 percent. In white rice, calcium declined 62.5 percent, iron 32-45 percent, and magnesium 20-85 percent. (5) Not only are commercially grown grains low in minerals, refining removes what little minerals they do have.


    Seaweeds and herbs are dependable mineral sources when eaten, brewed (one ounce dried herbs steeped four hours in a quart of boiling water in a tightly covered jar), or infused into vinegar, rather than taken in capsules or tinctures. Many herbs, such as dandelion l-eaves, peppermint, red clover blossoms, stinging nettle, and oatstraw, are exceptional sources of minerals, according to researchers Mark Pedersen, Paul Bergner, and the USDA. (6,7) For instance, there are 3000 mg of calcium in 100 grams dried nettle.


    Individual nutrients can be created in the laboratory, but they are unlikely to have the life-giving, spirit-enhancing properties of real foods. Hundreds of different chemicals occur naturally in foodstuffs, many of which avert cancer, promote cardiovascular health, improve sexual functioning, enhance energy, and promote longevity. Primary among these c-hemicals, especially for w-omen, is the class of compounds known as phytoestrogens.

    When phytoestrogens are plentiful in the diet, breast cancer incidence is lowered significantly. Phytoestrogens probably also help prevent osteoporosis, high blood pressure, congestive heart disease, and senility. Whole grains, beans, vegetables, and fruits are high in phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogen-rich diets also protect against the harmful effects of estrogen-mimicking chemicals in the environment and in our food.

    (1) Price, Weston; Nutrition and Physical Degeneration; Keats Publishing, Inc., 1945
    (2) Dunne, Lavon. Nutrition Almanac, 3rd Edition. McGraw Hill, 1990.
    (3) Fallon, Sally. Nourishing Traditions Cookbook. ProMotion Publishing, 1995.
    (4) Ziegler, Ekhard & Filer, LJ. Present Knowledge in Nutrition, 7th Edition. International Life Science Press, 1996.
    (5) Bergner, Paul; The Healing Power of Minerals, and Trace Elements. Prima Publishing, 1997
    (6) Pedersen, Mark; Nutritional Herbology; Pedersen Press, (orig. 1987; republished in 1996)(7) (7)Agriculture Handbook Book # 456: Nutritional Value of Foods in Common Units. Dover reprint, 1986. Original by the USDA, 1975.
    Johnson, Cait; Cooking Like A Goddess; Healing Arts Press, 1997
    Lewallen, Eleanor & John; Sea Vegetable Gourmet Cookbook; Mendocino Sea Veg Co, 1996
    Mollison, Bill; Permaculture Book of Ferment & Human Nutrition; Tagari Publications, 1993
    Sokolov, Raymind. Why We Eat What We Eat: How the encounter between the New World and the Old changed the way everyone on the planet eats. Summit, 1991.
    Weatherford, Jack. Indian Givers: How the Indians of the Americas Transformed the World. Fawcett Columbine, 1988.
    Weed, Susun. Healing Wise. Ash Tree Publishing, 1989.
    Margen, Sheldon, M.D. & the Editors of the University of California at Berkeley Wellness Letter.
    The Wellness Encyclopedia of Food and Nutrition. Rebus, 1992.

    ~ Part One ~

  • Tuesday, July 30, 2019 5:13 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)


    by Susun Weed

    The least known of the eight major Pagan holy days is Lammas, celebrated on the first of August. (The other primary holy days are the Summer and Winter Solstices, the Spring and Fall Equinoxes, and the Cross Quarter Days of Imbolc and Beltane.)


    Lammas, or "Loaf Mass," is the Feast of the First Harvest, the Feast of Bread. This Holy Day honors the women who created agriculture and bred the crops we cultivate, especially the grains, or corn. In the British Isles, celebrants make corn dollies from the last of the newly-harvested wheat. The corn dolly holds the energy of the grain Goddess and, when placed above the door or the mantle, will bring good luck to the household all year.

    When we think of corn, we think of succulent cobs of crisp, sweet, buttery yellow or white kernels: immature Zea mays, Indian corn. You know, corn. As in sweet corn, popcorn, blue corn, decorative corn, corn bread and corn chowder. Corn!


    But, did you ever wonder why it's corn? "Korn" is an old Greek word for "grain." Wheat and oats, barley and even rice, are korn. This usage is preserved in the song "John Barleycorn must die." When Europeans crossed the Atlantic and were introduced to the beautiful grain the Native Americans grew, they, of course, called it "corn." And nowadays we think of corn as only that, but corn is Kore (pronounced "core-a"), the Great Mother of us all.


    Her name, in its many forms -- Ker, Car, Q're, Kher, Kirn, Kern, Ceres, Core, Kore, Kaur, Kauri, Kali -- is the oldest of all Goddess names. From it we derive the English words corn, kernel, carnal, core, and cardiac. "Kern" is Ancient Greek for "sacred womb-vase in which grain is reborn."


    The Goddess of Grain is the mother of civilization, of cultivation, of endless fertility and fecundity. To the Romans she was Ceres, whose name becomes "cereal." To the Greeks, she was Kore, the daughter, and Demeter (de/dea/goddess, meter/mater/mother) as well. To the peoples of the Americas, she is Corn Mother, she-who-gave-herself-that-the-People-may-live. She is one of the three sister crops: corn, beans and squash. In the British Isles she was celebrated almost to the present day as "Cerealia, the source of all food."

    Honoring grain as the staff of our life dates at least as far back as Ancient Greece. Nearly four thousand years ago, the Eleusinian mysteries, which were regarded as ancient mysteries even then, centered on the sacred corn and the story of Demeter and her daughter Kore or Persephone. Initiates, after many days of ceremony, were at last shown the great mystery: an ear of Korn. Korn dies and is reborn, traditionally after being buried for three days. Corn and grain are magic. The one becomes many. That which dies is reborn.


    Many Native American stories repeat this theme of death and rebirth, but with a special twist. In some origin of corn stories a woman is brutally murdered, in others she demands to be killed. No matter. Once she is dead, she is cut into pieces and planted. From her dismembered body, corn grows. Again and again, everywhere around the world, the story of grain is the story of humanity. The sacred symbolism of grain speaks loudly to the human psyche. To the Ancients, the light in our lights is the Kore, the core, the soul, the seed, of each being.


    Real, whole grains sustain us. Real, whole grains are sacred. Real, whole grains reconnect us with our human lineage. When we eat them, we feel satisfied in a deep and fundamental way. When we eat them, we ground ourselves, we nourish ourselves in multiple ways.


    But bleached and enriched grains do not sustain life, nor are they inherently sacred. Grains that have had the bran and the germ stripped away do last longer, but have little to offer us physically or spiritually. When we eat them, we feel empty. Thus, many of us have come to equate bad news weight gain with carbohydrates, specifically, grains. Grains are the Goddess who sacrificed for us; they aren't to blame. It's the processing that does us in.

    August is a good time to make peace with the Corn Mother. Switch to organic corn chips; some supermarkets carry them. Explore millet, kasha, quinoa, teff, kamut, spelt, wild rice, brown basmati, and my dietary mainstay: Lundberg organic short-grain brown rice. Cheer Ceres. Throw your own whole-grain Carnaval!


    Grains are medicine, too. Corn silk is an important remedy to help bladder woes. A handful of rice or barley boiled in several quarts of water is a folk remedy for anyone who lacks appetite or who has digestive woes. We're all familiar with the heart-healthy effects of eating oats. And oat straw infusion, made from the grass of the oat plant, is considered a longevity tonic in India.

    Celebrate the Corn Mother any way you can. Invite Her into your life as food, as medicine, as decoration. And don't be surprised if you feel happier and healthier than ever before. The green blessings of the grains are special blessings indeed.


  • Tuesday, July 30, 2019 5:08 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Nutrition, Part One

    by Susun Weed

    The biochemical and energetic nutrients which we digest, absorb, and metabolize from foodstuffs are the foundation of all cellular activity in the body, including growth, repair, reproduction, resistance to disease, and maintenance. Good nutrition is critically important to every form of life we know. Finding, growing, preparing, and storing food has been women's work and women's genius since time out of mind.


    The Spirit of the Food
    Nutrition begins with milk from mother's breast, from the breast of the Great Goddess. In earth-centered cultures, the harvesting and gathering of food is interwound with sacred threads, and the consumption of the food is a sacrament. This aspect of nutrition is invisible, unmeasurable, undiscussed, but of utmost importance to the health of the individual and the ecology.


    Healthy Diets
    When food choices are limited, women eat whatever is available. As long as adequate carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals are consumed and clean water is available, health is easily maintained.(1) Restricted diets (vegan, vegetarian, impoverished) generally fail to provide adequately for women, and the addition of milk products, eggs, or meat to these diets optimizes health. When the food supply is abundant and foods are highly refined, as is the case in most Western countries, food choices may adversely affect health. This is due in part to an innate (healthy) craving for sweet, salt, and fat (which are scarce in nature but commercially abundant, leading to overconsumption) and in part to the degradation of the foodstuffs themselves.


    After water, protein is the most plentiful substance in our bodies. Without protein we cannot create enzymes, antibodies, milk, menses, skin, hair, nails, muscle, brain, heart, or organs. We require twenty-two different amino acids (building blocks of protein), of which eight are considered essential nutrients. Animal foods contain all essential amino acids. No one food of vegetable origin contains them all, but combinations (such as corn and beans) do. Each and every amino acid must be present at once in the body, and in the correct proportions, for protein synthesis. If even one essential amino acid is low or missing, even temporarily, protein production slows or stops altogether.(2) Adult women can be healthy on low protein diets; however children, pregnant, lactating, and menopausal women require high levels of protein.


    Fat is the most concentrated source of energy in the diet. Found in vegetable seeds, beans, and nuts, fruits such as olives and avocados, and in all animal products, fat is vital to women's health. Unfortunately, many American women avoid fat. A recent study (1999) found 26 percent of women deficient in vitamin E due to low-fat diets.


    Linoleic, linolenic, and arachidonic fats are the essential fatty acids, but all fats, especially cholesterol, are vital for the formation of sex hormones (especially postmenopausally), adrenal hormones, vitamin D (for strong bones), and bile. Low cholesterol diets make women's skin and vaginal tissues dry and impede the functioning of the brain and nervous system.

    The belief that saturated fats elevate blood cholesterol, causing blocked blood vessels, s-trokes and heart attacks has prevailed since the mid-1960s. Yet most researchers consider this idea simplistic and without scientific justification. In the Framingham Heart Study (USA), the greater a person's intake of total fat, saturated fat, and monounsaturated fat, the lower their risk of stroke. And, while high blood cholesterol levels were a risk factor for heart disease, fat and cholesterol intake in the diet were inversely correlated with blood cholesterol. Swedish studies confirm that saturated fats promote breast health, while vegetable oils (such as canola, safflower, corn, cottonseed, and sunflower oils) promote breast cancer.


    Animal fats are more stable than vegetable oils, which become rancid within days after press-ing. (Rancid fats promote cancer and heart disease.) Hydrogenation and partial-hydrogenation slow rancidity but create trans-fatty acids that create deposits on the blood vessels. Even unhydrogenated vegetable oils are unhealthy: They flood the body with omega-6 fatty acids (the primary fat component of arterial plaque), and contribute large amounts of free radicals that damage the arteries and initiate plaque deposits. (3)


    ~ Part Two ~
  • Wednesday, July 17, 2019 11:49 AM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Yarrow Toilette
    Susun Weed

    My bottle of yarrow tincture is so handy when I travel. I use it as a dentifrice, a mouthwash, a skin cleanser and freshener, a toothache remedy, a blemish treatment, an insect repellant, and a wound dressing. I won’t leave home without it.

    Fill a jar of any size with freshly-picked white yarrow flowers, stalk and leaves. If you do not have access to flowering yarrow, the leaves are an acceptable substitute. I do not use dried yarrow, as it creates a finished product that is harsh, bitter, and not as effective. Brightly-colored yarrows are richer in volatile oils, and so, unsafe to use.

    Chop the yarrow before putting it in the jar. Put in a lot. Really fill the jar, without jamming or bruising the plant material.

    Add 100 proof vodka, filling the jar to the brim. Higher proof alcohols are harsh and drying on the skin, as well as being more carcinogenic on the oral tissues. Lower proof alcohols do not do a good job of drawing yarrow’s compounds into solution. Any liquor in North America can order one hundred proof vodka for you if it is not on the shelf.

    Cap tightly and label with date.

    Decant after a minimum of six weeks. I prefer a spray bottle, but have, on occasion, carried a sprayer full of yarrow as well as two ounces of the tincture.

    Green Blessings,
    Susun Weed

    excerpt from Your Healthy Heart Online Course the Complete Series

  • Tuesday, July 16, 2019 6:53 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Herbs for those with Stomach Aches, Ulcers and Heartburn, Part 2
    by Susun S Weed


    To me, this means gas pain. Herbs that relieve gas pain are called "carminatives" because they make you "sing" (carmen). Many aromatic herbs are carminatives, especially the seeds of members of the Apiaceae family including dill seed, caraway seeds, fennel seeds, anise seeds, coriander seeds, and cumin seeds. Just put a big spoonful in a cup, cover well with boiling water, steep five minutes, sweeten if you like, and drink.

    Ginger is another readily-available carminative. Especially warming to the guts. You can make a tea with powdered ginger, or use up to a tablespoon of fresh ginger per cup of water for a strong brew. Ginger works best sweetened with honey. NASA found it would counter the nausea of space-sickness. You can also buy crystallized or candied ginger to take traveling with you.

    The fastest remedy for gas pain is two capsules of acidophilus. I expect pain relief in 5-10 minutes. And I don't pay much attention to the expiration date on it. I keep mine in the refrigerator, and use them so rarely that I often have a bottle for ten years - and they still work.

    Eating yogurt helps prevent gas pain, and can be used as a remedy, but it is not as fast as the acidophilus. A quart of yogurt a week is a good goal. And buy plain yogurt. No need to pay a fancy price for white sugar and poor quality fruit. Add maple syrup or honey and fruit of your choice, fresh or frozen at home. Make your own fantasy yogurt creation.

    And the bitter tonic herbs mentioned above are also excellent allies to take long-term if you have frequent gas pains.

    When I was in Spain I often had to eat late at night. Then I would take a sip of their very strong coffee, served in tiny cups. It had just the right amount of push to get that food into my digestive tract and still allow me to fall asleep at a reasonable time.

    But most people in America drink coffee in the morning on an empty stomach. Might this be one reason so many are in such digestive distress? Instead of coffee, try this:

    ~ Put one ounce by weight of dried peppermint leaf in a quart jar and fill to the top with boiling water.
    ~ Cap tightly and allow to steep for 4-8 hours. (OK to let it steep while you sleep.)
    ~ Strain the plant material out after the allotted time, squeezing it well.
    ~ Then drink the liquid: hot or cold, salty or sweetened, with milk or whiskey or what have you.
    ~ Refrigerate what you don't drink then. This will stay good in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.

    Peppermint helps move the intestines and make you feel really awake, just like coffee. I would not use it if someone were feeling nauseated, as it tastes vile on the way back out.


    (See above)
    With dandelion, you often see results in the first 24 hours.

    (See above)


    The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that 90% of the health care given on any day is given in the home by the woman of the home. Just by cooking dinner a woman can heal her family and keep them healthy. She can protect her husband's heart by using lots of garlic. And protect his libido by serving less soy.

    Many Americans have food phobias. Think about how many people are frightened of drinking milk. How many won't eat bread. I go into the health food store to get bread and there are loaves with no flour, and those with no yeast, and those without wheat, and I wonder where all the bread has gone.

    We have a national history of food phobias, starting with Graham (inventor of the healthy graham cracker), continuing with Kellogg (of breakfast flake fame), and right into the modern day's current fads (no fat? no carbs? all protein? all raw?). Not too much has really changed. More and more people are learning about herbal medicine, but I am sure many of them think it is difficult and arcane. They may be unaware that herbal medicine is the medicine for the people, of the people, and by the people.


    I specialize in safe, food-like herbs. I prefer them to drug-like herbs. The remedies I have suggested here are as safe as foods, taken in food-like quantities. When herbs are powdered and encapsulated, they can be dangerous. They are more like a drug and you have to be more careful. I use herbs because they aren't drugs.


    Beans! The magical fruit. So good for us, but so hard on the guts. And even worse when they are soy beans. The gas people get from tofu and tempe and soy beverage is outrageous.

    From regular beans, try this simple five-step approach - guaranteed to reduce how much you "toot"

    (i) Soak your beans overnight in a generous amount of cold water. Add a piece of wakame or kombu if desired.
    (ii) Rinse beans thoroughly in cold water (retain seaweed).
    (iii) Cover beans with fresh cold water, add retained seaweed, and cook until tender.
    (iv) Cool.
    (v) Reheat beans to serve.


    Yes, I believe all peppers are upsetting to the digestive tract. I suggest avoiding black pepper and cayenne, jalapeno and all others if you are prone to heartburn, have frequent gas pain, or suffer from irritable bowel or even simple diarrhea.

    ~ Part 1~

  • Thursday, July 11, 2019 5:10 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Herbs for those with Stomach Aches, Ulcers and Heartburn, Part 1
    by Susun S Weed

    Calling it stomach ache. The stomach (fortunately) does not ache. Usually when people say their stomach aches, they mean they have a gas pain. Gas pain can be severe pain. My friends who work in emergency rooms say you wouldn't believe how many people come in for what turns out to be gas pain.


    Herbalists, myself included, see heartburn as a lack of HCL (hydrochloric acid) in the stomach, instead of the prevalent opinion, that it is caused by too much acid. So instead of trying to turn off production of HCL (as drugs attempt to do), herbalists seek herbs that increase HCL, such as dandelion (Taraxacum officinale). In my book Healing Wise I devote an entire chapter to dandelion, with lots of recipes and ideas on how to use it.

    You can use any part of dandelion: the flowers make dandelion wine, you can cook the greens, or eat them in salad, you can even cook the root, or make a vinegar with it (my favorite), or tincture it. Some people make a coffee substitute from roasted dandelion root. Any way you take it seems to work. (A standard dose would be 10-20 drops of the root tincture taken at the beginning of the meal.) Dandelion, and its friend chicory (Cichorium intybus), which is a fine substitute should you have access to one and not the other, are true tonics. That is, the more you take them, the less you need them. You don't have to keep taking this remedy forever. After 3-6 weeks you'll find you need it less and less.

    In Europe it is customary to take bitters before a big meal. Most mild bitters, such as yellow dock (Rumex crispus), cronewort/mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris), gentian (Gentiana lutea), barberry (Berberis vulgaris), and Oregon grape are liver tonics and digestives. They aid in digestion, and decrease risk of heartburn, by increasing production of both HCL and bile.

    A few more tips for those who suffer from heartburn:
    ~ Eat less at each meal
    ~ Stay upright after eating; no lounging around or sleeping
    ~ Avoid eating late at night
    ~ Reduce the amount of coffee you drink
    ~ Don't overdo it with the orange juice, either
    ~ Use slippery elm lozenges (available in health food stores) for immediate relief from heartburn

    2B. ULCERS?
    The herbs that increase HCL in the stomach, such as dandelion, also decrease ulcers, which are the result of a bacterial infection. When stomach acid is increased, that bacteria has a harder time of it and is less likely to cause ulcers.
    Amusing isn't it that medical science says "OK, there must be a mind/body connection, because gastrointestinal ulcers are caused by stress"; only to find out what my herbal teachers taught me long ago: bacteria cause ulcers.

    Here's one way to kill that bacteria (besides taking drugs): Get a food grater with a very fine grating side. Grate a large potato as finely as possible. Into another bowl, grate ¼ to ½ of a cabbage. Let them sit for 10-15 minutes, until liquid starts to collect in the bottom of the bowls. Use your hand, or something hard, to press and squeeze the potato until it is dry. Throw away the pulp and keep the liquid. Repeat with the cabbage. Don't use a juicer. There are plant starches that you don't get when you use a juicer. A food processor is ok.

    Put the liquids in separate jars in the refrigerator, taking 1-3 tablespoonfuls 2-3 times a day. The more severe the symptoms, the larger and more frequent the dose would be. I expect symptomatic relief within 36-48 hours. But this remedy is safe to take for weeks at a time if needed.

    If you can't make the potato liquid, you can buy potato starch and mix it with water. Instead of the cabbage liquid, you could buy coleslaw. It isn't the same as grating the potato and the cabbage, but it is better than nothing. And even if it doesn't work as fast, if that is what is available to you, use it.

    To Be Continued

  • Thursday, July 11, 2019 4:27 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Ten Tips for Women with PMS
    by Susun S Weed

    Water retention, mood swings, sore breasts, and indigestion are problems experienced by many women in the week preceding menstruation. Here are a few tips from Susun Weed's best-selling book, NEW Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way (Alternatives for Women 30-90) to help ease these discomforts.

    To relieve water retention

    1) 10-20 drops of dandelion root tincture in a cup of water with meals and before bed.

    2) A strong infusion (one ounce of dried herb in a quart of boiling water, brewed overnight) of the common weed, stinging nettle, not only relieves, but also helps prevent further episodes of water retention. Weed says she drinks a cup or more of this infusion daily whenever she wants to nourish her kidneys and adrenals.

    To moderate mood swings

    3) Tincture of the flowering tops of fresh motherwort is a favorite calmative of herbalist Weed. She uses 5-10 drops in a small amount of water as a dose, which she repeats as needed, sometimes as frequently as 3-4 times an hour, until the desired effect is achieved. "I never feel drugged or groggy or out-of-it when I use motherwort to help me calm down," she says.

    4) For women who consistently feel premenstrual rage, use 20-30 drops of motherwort tincture twice a day for a month to help stabilize mood swings. Make it a priority to take a moon day -- one day right before or at the start of the menstrual flow which is set aside for you and you alone.

    5) One or more cups of an infusion of the herb oatstraw (the grass of the plant that gives us oatmeal) helps the nerves calm down and provides a rich source of minerals known to soothe frazzeled emotions.

    To relieve congestion and tenderness in the breasts

    6) 20-30 drops of the tincture of cleavers, another common weed, works wonders. This plant, also called "goose grass" was used as a black tea substitute by the colonists. The dose may be repeated every hour or up to 6 times a day.

    7) Women who get a lot of calcium and magnesium from their diet (leafy greens, yogurt, and many herbs are rich in these minerals) have less breast tenderness. Increase the minerals in your diet with a cup or more of red clover/mint infusion daily.

    8) Large cabbage leaves, steamed whole until soft, and applied as warm as tolerable, can be used as a soothing compress on breasts which are sore and swollen.

    To relieve digestive distress

    9) A daily doses of 1 teaspoonful/5ml yellow dock root vinegar.

    10) A cup of yogurt in the morning (buy it plain and add fruit at home) replaces gut flora and insures easy digestion all day long.


    Water retention, mood swings, sore breasts, and indigestion are problems experienced by many women in the week preceding menstruation. Here are a few tips from Susun Weed's best-selling book, NEW Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way (Alternatives for Women 30-90) to help ease these discomforts.

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