Wise Woman Herbal Ezine

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  • Tuesday, March 13, 2018 4:14 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)
    Seaweed is an Everyday Miracle

    Seaweed is an everyday miracle. The benefits of including seaweed’s optimum nourishment into your daily diet are extensive: increased longevity, enhanced immune functioning, revitalization of the cardiovascular, endocrine, digestive, and nervous systems, and relief from minor aches and pains. No wonder seaweed has been part of the traditional diet of all coastal cultures, including the people of Japan, Korea, China, Iceland, Denmark, Wales, Scotland, Hawaii, and the South Pacific Islands, and all the people who had trading contacts with the coastal cultures.All seaweeds are high in fiber. Those in the brown family supply large amounts of algin as well. Each seaweed contains a wide range of essential nutrients, including enzymes, nucleic acids, amino acids, minerals, trace elements, and A, B, C, D, E, and K vitamin complexes. Seaweeds offer us zest for life and the perfect medium for electrical nerve flow.

    Benefits from a wise woman alliance with seaweed - glossier hair, more luminous skin, less digestive distress, renewed energy and stamina, rekindled sexual desires, and reawakened delight in life - will be noticeable in about 13 weeks.


    Seaweed is an ally with lots of heart. Dancing, singing seaweed strengthens circulation, balances blood pressure, lowers cholesterol, builds healthy blood, increases the veins and hearts contractile force, restores and increases cardiac efficiency, nourishes and prolongs the life of the heart muscle, and encourages rhythmical working of the heart in all its aspects: physical, emotional, and inspirational.

    How can weeds with so much sodium (we all know salt raises blood pressure) be good for the heart and even hypotensive - that is, capable of lowering blood pressure~


    Sodium is not to blame for high blood pressure. Sodium chloride may be. Table salt may be. But table salt contains sugar, aluminum salts, and several other agents as well as sodium chloride. This is an unnatural salt solution and one that creates cardiovascular stress. The naturally occurring sodium in seaweeds (and garden weeds) bathes the inner being with rich salty nourishment, like the amniotic fluid of our original home. This sodium relieves tension in blood vessels made brittle by immersion in the wrong saline solution, table salt. (Note that commercial sea salt is usually as full of free flowing agents and other addenda as commercial table salt. Real evaporated seawater salt is pinkish in color. As usual, if it’s white, you can’t trust it.)

    Seaweed is a wonderful green ally to use with other Wise Woman ways when healing those with problems of the heart and circulation including atherosclerosis, hypertension, chilly extremities, varicosities, heart infections, repressed feelings, and self blame. 

  • Tuesday, March 13, 2018 4:07 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Using Herbs Simply and Safely, Page Two

    by Susun Weed

    If you are allergic to any foods or medicines, it is especially important to consult resources that list the side effects of herbs before you use them.

    * Understand that different preparations of the same herb can work differently

    The safety of any herbal remedy is dependent on the way it is prepared and used.

    * Tinctures and extracts contain the alkaloids, or poisonous, parts of plants and need to be used with care and wisdom. Tinctures are as safe as the herb involved (see cautions below for tonifying, stimulating, sedating, or potentially poisonous herbs). Best used/sold as simples, not combinations, especially when strong herbs are being used.

    * Dried herbs made into teas or infusions contain the nourishing aspects of the plants and are usually quite safe, especially when nourishing or tonifying herbs are used.

    * Dried herbs in capsules are generally the least effective way to use herbs. They are poorly digested, poorly utilized, often stale or ineffective, and quite expensive.

    * Infused herbal oils are available as is, or thickened into ointments. They are much safer than essential oils, which are highly concentrated and can be lethal if taken internally.

    * Herbal vinegars are not only decorative but mineral-rich as well. A good medium for nourishing and tonifying herbs; not as strong as tinctures for stimulants/sedatives.

    * Herbal glycerins are available for those who prefer to avoid alcohol but are usually weaker in action than tinctures.

    * Use nourishing, tonifying, stimulating, and potentially poisonous herbs wisely

    Herbs comprise a group of several thousand plants with widely varying actions. Some are nourishers, some tonifiers, some stimulants and sedatives, and some are potential poisons. To use them wisely and well, we need to understand each category, its uses, best manner of preparation, and usual dosage range.

    Nourishing herbs are the safest of all herbs; side effects are rare. Nourishing herbs are taken in any quantity for any length of time. They are used as foods, just like spinach and kale. Nourishing herbs provide high levels of proteins, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, carotenes, and essential fatty acids. Examples of nourishing herbs are: alfalfa, amaranth, astragalus, calendula flowers, chickweed, comfrey leaves, dandelion, fenugreek, flax seeds, honeysuckle flowers, lamb's quarter, marshmallow, nettles, oatstraw, plantain (leaves/seeds), purslane, red clover blossoms, seaweed, Siberian ginseng, slippery elm, violet leaves, and wild mushrooms.

    Tonifying herbs act slowly in the body and have a cumulative, rather than immediate, effect. They build the functional ability of an organ (like the liver) or a system (like the immune system). Tonifying herbs are most beneficial when they are used in small quantities for extended periods of time. The more bitter the tonic tastes, the less you need to take. Bland tonics may be used in quantity, like nourishing herbs.

    Side effects occasionally occur with tonics, but are usually quite short-term. Many older herbals mistakenly equated stimulating herbs with tonifying herbs, leading to widespread misuse of many herbs, and severe side effects. Examples of tonifying herbs are: barberry bark, burdock root/seeds, chaste tree, crone(mug)wort, dandelion root, echinacea, elecampane, fennel, garlic, ginkgo, ginseng, ground ivy, hawthorn berries, horsetail, lady's mantle, lemon balm, milk thistle seeds, motherwort, mullein, pau d'arco, raspberry leaves, schisandra berries, St. Joan's wort, turmeric root, usnea, wild yam, and yellow dock.

    Sedating and stimulating herbs cause a variety of rapid reactions, some of which may be unwanted. Some parts of the person may be stressed in order to help other parts. Strong sedatives and stimulants, whether herbs or drugs, push us outside our normal ranges of activity and may cause strong side effects. If we rely on them and then try to function without them, we wind up more agitated (or depressed) than before we began. Habitual use of strong sedatives and stimulants-whether opium, rhubarb root, cayenne, or coffee-leads to loss of tone, impairment of functioning, and even physical dependency. The stronger the herb, the more moderate the dose needs to be, and the shorter the duration of its use.

    Herbs that tonify and nourish while sedating/stimulating are some of my favorite herbs. I use them freely, as they do not cause dependency. Sedating/stimulating herbs that also tonify or nourish: boneset, catnip, citrus peel, cleavers, ginger, hops, lavender, marjoram, motherwort, oatstraw, passion flower, peppermint, rosemary, sage, skullcap.

    Strongly sedating/stimulating herbs include: angelica, black pepper, blessed thistle root, cayenne, cinnamon, cloves, coffee, licorice, opium poppy, osha root, shepherd's purse, sweet woodruff, turkey rhubarb root, uva ursu leaves, valerian root, wild lettuce sap, willow bark, and wintergreen leaves.

    Potentially poisonous herbs are intense, potent medicines that are taken in tiny amounts and only for as long as needed. Side effects are common. Examples of potentially poisonous herbs are: belladonna, blood-root, celandine, chaparral, foxglove, goldenseal, henbane, iris root, Jimson weed, lobelia, May apple (American mandrake), mistletoe, poke root, poison hemlock, stillingia root, turkey corn root, wild cucumber root.

    In addition, consider these thoughts on using herbs safely:
    *Respect the power of plants to change the body and spirit in dramatic ways.

    *Increase trust in the healing effectiveness of plants by trying remedies for minor or external problems before, or while, working with major and internal problems.

    *Develop ongoing relationships with knowledgeable healers-in person or in books-who are interested in herbal medicine.

    *Honor the uniqueness of every plant, every person, every situation.

    *Remember that each person becomes whole and healed in their own unique way, at their own speed. People, plants, and animals can help in this process. But it is the body/spirit that does the healing. Don't expect plants to be cure-alls.

  • Tuesday, March 13, 2018 4:03 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)
    Using Herbs Simply and Safely
    By Susun S. Weed

    Are herbs "dilute forms of drugs" - and therefore dangerous? Or are they "natural" - and therefore safe? If you sell herbs, you probably hear these questions often. What is the "right" answer? It depends on the herb! These thoughts on herbs will help you explain to your customers (and yourself) how safe--or dangerous-- any herb might be.

    To prevent problems when selling or using herbs:

    1. Be certain you have the correct plant.
    2. Use simples.
    3. Understand that different preparations of the same herb can work differently.
    4. Use nourishing, tonifying, stimulating, and potentially poisonous herbs wisely.

    * Be certain you have the correct plant.

    One of the easiest ways to get into trouble with an herb is to use the "wrong" one. How could that happen? Common names for herbs overlap, causing confusion as to the proper identity. Herbs that are labeled correctly may contain extraneous material from another, more dangerous, herb. Herbs may be picked at the wrong stage of growth or handled incorrectly after harvesting, causing them to develop detrimental qualities.

    Protect yourself and your customers with these simple steps:

    •  Buy herbs only from reputable suppliers.
    • Only buy herbs that are labeled with their botanical name. Botanical names are specific, but the same common name can refer to several different plants. "Marigold" can be Calendula officinalis, a medicinal herb, or Tagetes, an annual used as a bedding plant.
    • If you grow the herbs you sell, be meticulous about keeping different plants separate when you harvest and dry them, and obsessive about labeling.

    * Use simples

    A simple is one herb. For optimum safety, I prepare, buy, sell, teach about and use herbal simples, that is: preparations containing only one herb. (Occasionally I use will add some mint to flavor a remedy.)

    The more herbs there are in a formula, the more likelihood there is of unwanted side-effects. Understandably, the public seeks combinations, hoping to get more for less. And many mistakenly believe that herbs must be used together to be effective (probably because potentially poisonous herbs are often combined with protective herbs to mitigate the damage they cause). But combining herbs with the same properties, such as goldenseal and echinacea, is counter-productive and more likely to cause trouble than a simple. A simple tincture of echinacea is more effective than any combination and much safer.)

    Different people have different reactions to substances, whether drugs, foods, or herbs. When herbs are mixed together in a formula and someone taking it has distressing side effects, there is no way to determine which herb is the cause. With simples, it's easy to tell which herb is doing what. If there's an adverse reaction, other herbs with similar properties can be tried. Limiting the number of herbs used in any one day (to no more than four) offers added protection.

    Side effects from herbs are less common than side effects from drugs and usually less severe. If an herb disturbs the digestion, it may be that the body is learning to process it. Give it a few more tries before giving up. Stop taking any herb that causes nausea, dizziness, sharp stomach pains, diarrhea, headache, or blurred vision. (These effects will generally occur quite quickly.) Slippery elm is an excellent antidote to any type of poison.

    ~ Page Two ~

  • Monday, March 05, 2018 3:51 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Digestive Distress, Part Two
    by Susun Weed

    Step 4. Stimulate/Sedate . . .

    ~ White flour products slow the digestive tract; so does too much grain-fed meat. Whole grain products, well-cooked beans, wild meats, and cooked greens speed it up.

    ~ Add more liquids and soft foods to your diet - applesauce, yogurt, nourishing soups, herbal infusions - to help relieve constipation. Chew your food slowly and savor it. Drink lavishly between meals.

    ~ Menopausal women will want to avoid the use of bran as a laxative, as it interferes with calcium absorption. Instead try prunes, prune juice, rhubarb with maple syrup, or figs. (See "Fruit Fix," page XXX.)

    ~ Ginger tea with honey is a warming, easing drink when your tummy is upset. Ahhh. Try the fresh root grated and steeped in boiling water, or put a tablespoon of the powdered stuff from your spice cupboard in a cup of hot water and enjoy.

    ~ Crushed hemp seed (Cannabis sativa) tea - rich in essential fatty acids - is a specific against menopausal constipation.

    ~ Herbal laxatives such as aloes, cascara sagrada, rhubarb root, and senna are addictive and destructive to normal peristalsis. Except in rare cases (such as relief of constipation for a ninety-year-old woman confined to a bed), I do not advise their use.

    Step 5. Use supplements . . .

    ~ Constipation and digestive distress are common side effects from taking iron supplements. A spoonful of molasses with 10-25 drops of yellow dock root tincture in a glass of warm water is a better way to increase iron, and improve elimination.

    Step 6. Break and enter . . .

    ~ Enemas and colonics are last-resort techniques. They do not promote health and may strip the guts of important flora. Regular use of enemas is highly habit-forming. For the sake of your health, avoid them.

  • Monday, March 05, 2018 3:47 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)
    Digestive Distress, Part One
    by Susun Weed

    Step 1. Collect information . . .

    As the mix of hormones in your blood changes during your premenopausal years, you may notice the effects on your gastrointestinal tract both directly - estrogen is a gastrointestinal stimulant and varying levels may swing you from loose stools to dry ones - and indirectly, as the hormonal load places ever heavier demands on the liver.

    Hormones have a strong effect on the motility of the intestinal tract. When your levels of estrogen and progesterone change (as they do throughout menopause, during pregnancy, and before menstruation and birth), your bowel patterns change, too.

    Your liver is, among other things, a recycling center. It breaks down hormones circulating in the blood when they are no longer needed and makes their "parts" available for the production of more hormones. During the menopausal years some hormones (such as LH and FSH) are produced in such enormous quantities that your liver may struggle to keep up with its recycling work, and have little energy left over for digestive duties. Help yourself with these Wise Woman Ways.

    Step 2. Engage the energy . . .

    ~ Bless your food out loud before you eat; say grace; thank the plants and animals who nourish you; breathe in and feel grateful.

    ~ My mother's favorite way of preventing digestive distress and ensuring regularity was to eat at regular times and go to the toilet at regular times. You'd be surprised how effective this is.

    ~ First thing in the morning, get yourself a cup of hot water (or herbal tea) and bring it back to bed. Sip it slowly, and gnaw gently on your bottom lip. Then lie on your back and bring your knees up, feet flat on the bed; place your palms on your belly and breathe deeply. Gently begin to rub your belly (in spirals): up on the right, across the middle, and down on the left. Soon you will feel the movement gathering momentum. Sit up slowly and head for the toilet.

    Step 3. Nourish and tonify . . .

    ~ Yellow dock root vinegar or tincture is a wonderful ally for menopausal women with digestive distress. Daily doses of 1 teaspoon/5 ml vinegar or 5-10 drops of tincture eliminate constipation, indigestion, and gas. Yellow dock is especially recommended for the woman whose menopausal menses are getting heavier.

    ~ Dandelion is everyone's favorite ally for a happy digestive system and a strong liver. It relieves indigestion, constipation, gas, even gallstone pain. How to use it? Have a glass of dandelion blossom wine. Eat the omega-3-rich leaves in salads. Enjoy the phytoestrogenic roots as a vinegar or tincture (a dose is 1-2 teaspoons/5-10 ml vinegar or 10-20 drops tincture taken with meals) or as a coffee substitute.

    ~ Any rhythmical exercise, especially walking, relieves digestive gas and improves intestinal peristalsis (the movement of feces). Oriental wisdom says the liver loves movement.

    ~ Motherwort, fenugreek, vitex, or black cohosh tinctures, taken daily, strengthen digestion and ease menopausal digestive woes. Or try a cup of garden sage tea.

    ~ If constipation occurs due to a lessening of the moistening, lubricating cells in the colon, slippery foods such as slippery elm bark powder, oats, seaweed, flax seed, and seeds from wild Plantago (or cultivated psyllium) are wonderful allies. Adding a teaspoon/5 ml of any, or better yet, all of them to a cup/250 ml of rolled oats and cooking until thick in 3 cups/750 ml of water is a delicious way to prepare this remedy.

    ~ My favorite remedy to relieve digestive and gas pain is plain yogurt. Sometimes even a tiny mouthful will bring instant relief. Acidophilus capsules work, too. I use both when dealing with chronic constipation or severe diarrhea.

    ~ Part 2 ~

  • Monday, March 05, 2018 12:14 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Usnea (Usnea barbata) is that many-stranded grey lichen hanging out of the branches of your apple trees or the Monterey pines planted in the plantation over there or in almost any native tree in areas of the South Island Alps, where it is known as angiangi to the Maori. If in doubt of your identification: Pull a strand gently apart with your hands, looking for a white fiber inside the fuzzy grey-green outer coat.

    To prepare usnea, harvest at any time of the year, being careful not to take too much. Usnea grows slowly. Put your harvest in a cooking pan and just cover it with cold water. Boil for about 15-25 minutes, or until the water is orange and reduced by at least half. Pour usnea and water into a jar, filling it to the top with plant material. (Water should be no more than half of the jar.) Add the highest proof alcohol you can buy. After 6 weeks this tincture is ready to work for you as a superb antibacterial, countering infection anywhere in the body. A dose is a dropperful (1 ml) as frequently as every two hours in acute situations.

    Usnea, a common lichen, is especially rich in a powerful antibacterial bitter called usnic acid (also usinic acid). I use the tincture of Usnea barbata (a dose is 1-2 dropperfuls), but other lichens show similar immune-enhancing and tonifying properties. There are no side effects reported from use of even large amounts of usnea tincture.

    ~ Susun Weed

  • Tuesday, August 15, 2017 4:43 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    B-I-G Plants

    I have endeavored to put my toe into the photo to give you some idea of the size of these huge leaves (and mushroom). Enjoy these giant green blessings!

    Big Mushroom

    Big Burdock (Arctium lappa) Leaf

    Big Pedacites Leaf

    Big Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) Plant

  • Tuesday, August 15, 2017 4:28 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Witches' Garden, part 2

    Belladonna (Atropa belladonna)
    Here is a mass of belladonna, literally “beautiful lady” in Italian. In Germany, I was told, it is “crazy cherry” or “death cherry” (tot kirsch). In the pharmacy, it is the pupil-opening drug atropine.

    Here is a close-up of the beautiful lady’s flower. So useful, so deadly. Such an odd color. For thousands of years healers have used belladonna, and it is still available today, though usually only as a homeopathic remedy.

    Roots broom  
    Laying off to the side in the witches’ garden, I found this lovely broom made from gnarly roots. Doesn’t look like it would sweep well, but it would probably be a good flyer, especially with some flying ointment rubbed on strategic places.

    ~ B-I-G Plants ~

  • Tuesday, August 15, 2017 4:24 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Witches’ Garden

    Witches were not afraid to use poisonous plants, for they understood how to moderate the results through careful harvesting and wise preparations. It was a witch who turned doctors onto the use of the poisonous foxglove plant. So Marie has created a spiral of poisons in her Witches’ Garden. Though I often encourage my students to smell and taste plants, I think it best if we take a hands-off approach in this garden.

    Castor bean plant
    This lovely castor bean plant – which may grow up to 12 feet tall in a single season, must be planted anew each year in northern Quebec, but it can grow for years in tropical and sub-tropical gardens, where it easily escapes and becomes a weed. A useful and dangerous weed. Castor oil, a healing favorite of Edgar Casey (the sleeping prophet), is pressed from the seeds, which also contain ricin, a deadly poison. It is said that a needle dipped in ricin can be used as a lethal weapon.

    Plants in the nightshade family – like belladonna, henbane, tobacco and Datura -- are associated with witches. When tomatoes were brought from South America (their home) to Italy, they were considered “poison apples.” (Tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, and peppers are all nightshades, as are ashwaganda and goji.)  It is true that many plants in the nightshade family do contain poisons which can addle your mind, mess with your eyes, and occasionally kill you. Here are a few in Marie Provost’s garden.

    Datura or Jimson weed grows as a weed all over the world, from Quebec to India and all places in between. It is also known as “loco weed” because it make cows – and people – crazy if they eat it. It is featured as part of a shamanic rite in Clan of the Cave Bear by Jane Auel. As a safeguard, they ingest it only when locked in a small cave inside a larger cave. I have heard that an ointment of the root boiled in fat is probably the safest way to take a definitely unsafe-to-use plant.

    ~ Witches' Garden, Part 2 ~

  • Tuesday, August 15, 2017 4:11 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Herb Walk at Clef des Champs, part 2

    Beautiful Mullein
    Mullein is one of the great remedies. It grows just about everywhere except the tropics, and provides the best remedies for anyone dealing with breathing issues.

    Yellow thistle
    I was struck by the color, the size, and the bees when I approached this planting of thistle. “What an unusual color for a thistle,” I remarked to my guide, Anais. With a chuckle, she admitted that they were surprised too. “We think they sent us the wrong seed. It certainly isn’t milk thistle.” Fortunately for us all, thistles, all thistles, are medicinal, all thistle seeds are medicinal, all thistle roots are edible, all thistle leaves are edible too. Milk thistle has pushed the competition aside mostly because it is so big and easy to work with, but, really, any thistle will do.


    This is the flower of Echinacea augustifolia. I could not walk past. I had to sit and drink in the petals as the fluttered in the breeze, like butterflies resting upside down. I depend on echinacea. Ever since I threw over my disappointing relationship with golden seal (which, I noticed, Marie doesn’t grow), and found Kansas coneflower in an old, old herbal, I have trusted my life and the lives of my animals to Echinacea augustifolia. (Not Echinacea purpurea.)

    “And look at the stalk,” Anais instructed me. “When it isn’t in flower, you can distinguish the augustifolia from the purpurea by the hairs on the stalk and leaves of the former.

    Siberian ginseng
    Oops. We aren't supposed to call it that anymore. Now it is Eleuthero (short for Eleutherococcus senticocus). Marie is quite justifiably proud of her accomplishment in growing a stand of this important adaptogen.

    ~ Witches' Garden ~

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