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  • Monday, October 14, 2019 6:23 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Fibromyalgia
    Part One
    by Susun Weed

     

     


    "Dear woman," Grandmother Growth's voice seems to float in the deepening twilight, echoing, reverberating, ringing in your ears. "Bring me your soreness. Bring me your pain. Bring your aches to me. Bring your burdens. Bring all you can no longer stand, can no longer bear, can no longer carry, can no longer shoulder, can no longer be responsible for. Give it to me. Put it down. Let us sit in council together and listen to the stories your pain tells. Menopause is a journey which requires you to pack light. Heavy things--bitterness, regret, vengeance, clinging to pain--will make your travels wearisome and bring you down. Take only the stories. Leave the rest behind. Burn the soreness in your hot flashes. Let it leave you. This is the Change. Let it change you, dear woman; let it change you."

     

     

    Step 0:       Do Nothing

     Women dealing with fibromyalgia have less pain if they sleep in a completely dark room. If that's impossible, wear a sleep mask.

     

    Step 1:       Collect Information

    The chronic pain disorder I called "sore all over" when I wrote this section ten years ago is now big news. Ninety percent of the four million Americans dealing with this debilitating, frustrating condition--known as fibromyalgia--are white women, and many of them are menopausal.

     

    Neither cause nor cure for fibromyalgia is known. It is not a disease but a range of symptoms characterized by chronic, widespread pain on both sides of the body, above and below the waist. (As one of my apprentices put it: "But I don't hurt in all those places at once. The pain moves around. I never know where it will be next.")

     

    Some women have a low fever in addition to pain. More than half of those with fibromyalgia also suffer from headaches, endometriosis, and/or irritable bowel syndrome.

     

    The symptoms of fibromyalgia are quite variable, making diagnosis difficult. (Orthodox diagnosis is predicated on finding soreness at specific trigger points.) Fibromyalgia mimics aspects of multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, arthritis, hepatitis C, hypothyroidism, lupus, polymyalgia rheumatica, and early dementia. Many women with fibromyalgia are told their distress is "all in your mind."

     

    It isn't in your mind (alone). Menopause can leave you feeling like you've been beaten on. Muscles respond to hormonal changes by feeling sore and cranky. Sleep loss can make you ache. (Non-restorative sleep is a hallmark of fibromyalgia.) Lack of calcium (and other minerals) can make your bones ache. Whether you are dealing with these challenges, or the greater problem of fibromyalgia, why not give Wise Woman Ways a try? The remedies listed here have been remarkably successful in helping many women.

     

    "People with fibromyalgia aren't just sensitive to pain; they also find loud noises, strong odors, and bright lights aversive."--Daniel Clauw, MD, Director: Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center, Georgetown University

     

    Step 2:       Engage the Energy

    • Having a support group is one of the strongest factors in keeping fibromyalgia under control.
    • Homeopathic Arnica is an amazing remedy for sore and aching muscles. Daily use of homeopathic Rhus toxicodendron reduced pain by twenty-five percent in those with fibromyalgia.
    • Make a list of things you are sore (upset, angry) about. Where do these things live in your body? With the help of an experienced bodyworker, loosen those places. Women with fibromyalgia are very likely to be survivors of trauma (sexual or domestic violence, alcoholism).
    • Go back to your Mother. Float in the ocean. Lie belly down on the earth. Naked. Let her ease you. Let her heal you.
    • Listen to a relaxation tape. Have someone show you how to do the yoga position called the "Corpse Pose."  Learn how to bring yourself to a deep state of inner quiet and peaceful mind.
    • Hypnotherapy can help you gain some degree of mental control over symptoms. Cognitive behavior therapy is also helpful.
  • Monday, October 14, 2019 5:45 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Becoming a Herbalist

     by Susun S. Weed

        

        ~ Part One ~



     

    I didn't grow up wanting to be an herbalist. As a child I lived a few short blocks from the Dallas City Zoo. At night, as the stars came out and I laid in my bed waiting for sleep, the trumpeting of the elephants and the roar of the lions and the hoots of the monkeys were my lullaby. And my dreams were filled with spirits, urgings, feelings.


    Between my house and the zoo was a small woods. This forgotten five acres was as good as five million acres to my child self. Whenever the world made me mad or sad, I would pack a lunch and "run away" to the woods. There I would sit by the little creek or hide in the cave carved by the water in the chalk cliff. Perhaps the Nature Spirits called me there. I only knew I found solace in nature when people disappointed me.


    Actually, I planned to be a mathematician. Even majored in math at UCLA. But a funny thing: Nature seemed to be following me. Right across the street from the sorority house where I lived was a five-acre woods. Despite (or because of) the fact that we were warned not to venture into the woods, we did. It was the shortest way to campus. Every morning I would set out briskly for my classes, only to find myself enchanted by the changes I saw around me in the woods.


    At nineteen, despite taking birth control pills, I was informed that I was five months pregnant. Wow. That was not on my list of things to do in life. I became something of a curiosity at the UCLA Medical Center where I went for pre-natal checkups. No one knew how the baby would be affected by the hormones I had fed her unkowningly for five months, and this was before the routine use of ultrasound, so there was no way to know. When all the interns showed up to peer between my legs, I didn't like it.


    So my husband and I moved. To New York City. I was seven months pregnant. And I had no intention of taking any drugs. But, like most pregnant women, I had my share of minor complaints. What to do? I went to the library, the one with the lions, and asked the librarian for books on herbs. (Why? I can't tell you. The words just came out of my mouth and I followed them where they led.) She brought me all four of them! (This was 1965.) And I took them home. But what they told me to do was to put basil in my tomato sauce and dill in with my sliced cucumbers. Good advice, but not what I wanted. I wanted a natural childbirth, a bonded relationship with a nursing baby, and no drugs anywhere along that way.


    Fortunately, I am generally healthy and strong, so I was able to have what I wanted, although without the use of any herbs, and without the support of the doctors and nurse in attendance. They actually gave my baby sugarwater before bringing her to me to nurse and closed the curtains around us when I put her to my breast "So as not to disturb the other women with your perversion!" Finally, in desperation, I checked us out of the maternity ward, against doctor's orders and went home to my fifth-floor walk-up on east ninth street.


    For ease, for peace, for joy, I took myself and my infant daughter to the Cloisters, a beautiful, quiet park and museum along the river. I needed nature more than ever as a young mother whose ideas about childcare were not "normal." One day an older women stopped me and scolded me for holding my baby. (This was before Snugglies and the general acceptance of the need for body contact between infant and mother. I just knew that my body wanted contact, so I ignored strollers and held my baby close.) "You are spoiling her!" she harangued me. "You must not touch your child any more than is necessary. Especially when she cries. My sons were never touched and they are both at West Point," she concluded with a satisfied smile. I clutched my daughter to my chest, smiled, and silently vowed to hold her for as long as possible.


    Though I was frightened in the city (a brick thrown through the window of my apartment fell to the floor an inch from my bed, I was hit several times by eggs thrown from roofs, and a gang of teenagers accosted me on the street, taunting me and lifting my skirt to expose my thighs and underwear), I had no idea of where to go. Nature did. And She finally got through to me with stories of a magical place upstate: the Catskills mountains.


    We visited, and true to the tale (those who spend a night in the shadow of Overlook are forever bound to the Catskills), we were enchanted. Within the month, we had rented a small cottage and began to stay there on weekends. For my daughter and I, the weekends lengthened, and lengthened, until we were upstate full time. And what a glorious time it was: frolicking in the woods looking for mushrooms, gathering wild strawberries so dense that our knees turned red, splashing in the swimming hole, and planting my first herb garden.


    Real basil. Real dill. And lots of weeds. I didn't know which of those little green sprouts were my herbs and which were the weeds. Thank goodness for Euell Gibbons, whose books on wild foods were coming into print. Soon I realized that the weeds were herbs too!


    And so began a fascination that I carry to this day: to know the plants around me and to know how to eat them and to use them for medicine. There were to be many more steps laid out for me on my path to becoming an herbalist. Steps I knew nothing of as a flower child. Steps that would forever change me and the way I viewed life.


    To be Continued...

  • Wednesday, October 09, 2019 11:18 AM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Autumn Soup

     

    A tribute to the season, with the produce of autumn, bursting with flavor, color, and warmth. Butternut squash can be used instead of cheese pumpkin.

     


    • Saute 4 medium onions, thinly sliced in 4 tablespoons pure olive oil and a teaspoonful of salt on a medium heat, stirring frequently, until the onions are translucent and soft.
    • Add 4 apples, cored and cut into pieces and continue to cook, stirring often.
    • Meanwhile remove the seeds, pith, and most of the skin from 2 baked cheese pumpkins (or squash).
    • Add the flesh of the pumpkins to the pan, along with 2 tablespoons of astragalus powder. Stir well.
    • Slowly add 1 gallon water and 1 ounce wakame (seaweed) cut very small.



    Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for one hour.
    Blend into a smooth, thick soup.
    Add up to 4 tablespoons of raw sugar if needed to brighten the taste.

  • Tuesday, October 08, 2019 6:45 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Living Generously, the Wise Woman Way
    by Susun S Weed




    Living generously is a theme that plays loudly in many women's lives. As women, our social conditioning -- and often the impulse of our hearts -- is to live generously by giving generously. And we give the one thing we have assured access to: ourselves. Generosity flows though us and through our lives. We give to friends, mates, children, community, even needy strangers. Many women live generously by literally giving themselves away. But don't we need to be generous to ourselves as well to say that we are truly living generously?

    OK! Suppose we do take time for ourselves, indulge ourselves with special foods, buy new clothes for ourselves, treat ourselves to a massage or a weekend at the spa. Is this enough to say we are living generously?

    Several of my most important teachers, after knowing me for a while, told me that I was not generous. Since I make it a point to surround myself, and all those within my sphere, with abundance, this comment really took me aback. "What," I demanded of my mentor Jean Houston, "do you mean?" "I mean you reserve yourself; you hold back. You have much more you could share, much more you can do."

    To live generously, as she saw it, is to impart as much of yourself as you can to everything you do. To throw yourself into it. Another teacher told me to "Jump into the volcano. Jump into the glacial lake. Otherwise you will just be a lukewarm drink." I have done my best to embody these teachings, to remember that living generously means living every second to its fullest. It means being generous with my real self, being generous with all my feelings (distress as well as love, despair as well as delight), generous with my land (I own 55 acres of forested Catskill beauty), generous with my teachings (for almost forty years).

    It has always been important to me that no one is denied access to my teaching for lack of money. But I discovered quite quickly that giving away my teaching was not fair to me or to my students. It devalues my worth. It devalues the worth of my teaching. And it devalues the student's worth and lowers their self-esteem.

    In Germany, a woman wanted to attend my workshop. She couldn't pay, she said, for she lived off her own land and had no money. I asked her to give me something as valuable as my teaching would be to her. She insisted she had nothing. I insisted back that everyone has something of value if they look for it. She did attend the workshop, arriving with a hand-made basket filled with her own preserves, honey from her bees, fresh produce, and a hand-knit sweater. Her generosity strengthened her and left her ready to receive. She created a space in herself. She shook off the shame that told her she had nothing. She became free to take abundantly from what I offered. In this case, for me, living generously meant not giving, but demanding that my energy be met and reciprocated.

    Barter doesn't always work out so well, though. In lieu of payment in money, I am often asked to accept work that is unskillful and crafts that are useless to me. How can I live generously in this situation? How can I elicit, how can I support, abundance and generosity in my students?

    Not by taking from my plenty to make up for their lack, but by eliciting and support their own worth. Not by making it easy for them, but by making it hard. Scholarship students pay half their fees in work on my homestead. I offer work/learn days at no monetary cost. Those with a thirst for knowledge thrive when given work and accept corrections with a smile. Those who won't make use of my teaching shirk their tasks, feel abused when corrected, and generally give up and leave -- often cursing me. Thus living generously leaves room for those who are warmed by my fire and nourished by my words and actions to draw near and drink deeply, while propelling those who feel "burned" by my passion out of my life. More joy for all!

    Living generously comes from my excess, not from my source. A Mexican midwife admonished me to: "Give your flowers. Give your leaves. Give your stalk. Even give your seeds. But never, never, give away your roots." So I choose to live generously, to live passionately. The earth is filled with green blessings. Every breath is a give-away dance. Won't you join me?


  • Wednesday, October 02, 2019 6:58 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Mint Honeys
    by Susun Weed


    Mint honeys are a delicious way to prevent and treat winter miseries: the flu, colds, and coughs especially.


    I usually make mine just before the frost takes down the tender mints, but January is not too late to get some started if you have access to hardy mints. Overwintering rosemary, sage, thyme, and lavender appreciate a haircut about now, for lush spring growth.


    Outdoor hardy mints are best harvested on a warm sunny day with care not to steal too much from the plants; leave them enough to get through the coming cold days.


    To make your honey:

    • Fill a jar with your hardy mint, best if you cut it fairly fine.
    • Pour real honey over the herb in the jar. No need to use raw honey; since you will be using these herbal honeys to make tea with boiling water, it won't be raw after you brew it up. See if you can buy local honey. One of the ways to counter colony collapse in the beehives is to encourage more small scale beekeepers. The best way to encourage them is to buy their honey. (Smile) You may wish to view Vanishing of the Bees, an interesting look at colony collapse by Ellen Page.
    • After you have filled your jar with fresh herb and honey, put a tight lid and a label on it. Then the hard part: Wait for six or more weeks.


    Once your hardy mint honey is ready (in about 4 weeks), you need only scoop a large spoonful of the herb and honey into a cup, fill with boiling water and drink. Wow! Instant herb tea.


    Yes, you can eat the honeyed herbs in your tea cup if you want to, or just add them to your compost pile when you have finished your tea. (The leaves tend to fall to the bottom of the cup.)

  • Wednesday, October 02, 2019 2:52 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Weed Walk with Susun



    Ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea)


    Ground ivy carpets the ground with flowers. We adore the flowering
    tops in our salads.




    Narrow leaf plantain (Plantago lanceolata)

    Plantain holds its flowers atop long stiff stems. The whole affair reminds me of a flying saucer. Anytime is a fine time to harvest leaves for salads (chop finely) or infused oil.



    Common speedwell (Veronica officinalis)


    This was once a favored remedy for those with respiratory It is edible, but too bitter and too tiny to be worth foraging for salad.




    Corn speedwell (Veronica arvensis)


    This speedwell is even smaller than her official sister.




    Celandine poppy (Cheladonium majus)


    She is showing off her stunning, abundant yellow flowers. Not to be confused with mustard family plants, though they do have four petals. The yellow sap of this poisonous plant can be used against skin cancer.






    Yellow rocket or Barbara’s cress (Barbarea vulgaris)


    Our winter friend, now brings the sunlight to earth as she spreads her yellow cheer. The leaves are now too bitter for my taste, but I do like the flowers and flower buds in my salads. Note the four-petaled mustard family flowers. Both the “H” and the “X” pattern of the four petals are visible in this close-up photo.

  • Monday, September 16, 2019 9:42 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Sage the Savior
    by Susun S Weed



     

    Does the odor of sage evoke warmth, cheer, and holiday feasts for you? Sage has long been used to add savor, magic, and medicine to winter meals. Culinary sage is available at any grocery store, and sage is one of the easiest of all herbs to grow -- whether in a pot, on a windowsill, or in the garden. So, grab some sage, inhale deeply, and let me tell you more about this old friend.

     

    Sage is Salvia, which means "savior." As a member of the mint family, it has many of the healing properties of its sisters. Of special note are the high levels of calcium and other bone-building minerals in all mints, including sage, and the exceptionally generous amounts of antioxidant vitamins they offer us.

     

    Everywhere sage grows -- from Japan to China, India, Russia, Europe and the Americas -- people have valued it highly and used it as a preservative seasoning for fatty foods and a medicine for a variety of ills. The volatile oils in sage are antimicrobial and antibacterial and capable of countering a variety of food-borne poisons, as well as other infections.

     

    A tea of garden sage can help

    • prevent and eliminate head colds
    • soothe and heal sore throats
    • clear the sinuses
    • speed up immune response to the flu
    • ease asthma and heal the lungs
    • aid digestion, especially of fats
    • improve sleep and ease anxiety
    • insure regularity
    • invigorate the blood
    • strengthen the ability to deal with stress
    • counter periodontal disease and tighten the gums
    • reduce profuse perspiration
    • help wean baby by reducing breast milk

     

    The easiest way to use sage as medicine is to make a tea of it. The addition of honey is traditional and wise, as honey is a powerful antibacterial in its own right and magnifies sage's ability to ward off colds, flus, and breathing problems. If you have dried sage, a teaspoonful brewed in a cup of boiling water for no more than 2-3 minutes, with an added teaspoonful of honey, ought to produce a pleasant, aromatic tea. If it is bitter, the tea was brewed too long, or the sage was old or too-finely powdered, or you have the wrong sage. If you have fresh sage, use a handful of the leaves and stalks, brew for about five minutes, and add a spoonful of honey. Fresh sage tea is rarely bitter. Or, you can make a ready-sweetened sage tea by using your own home-made sage honey.


    As the cold comes on and frosts threaten, I make my major mint-family harvests of the year, including pruning back the sage. Where I live, the frost won't kill the sage, but it will blacken the leaves and cause them to fall off. Before that happens, I take my scissors and cut the plants back by at least half. I coarsely chop the stems and leaves and put them in a jar. (For best results, I choose a jar that will just contain the amount of herb at hand. If there is unused space in the jar, oxidation will occur, and components of the herb can be damaged or altered.) Then, I slowly pour honey over the chopped herb, poking with a chopstick to eliminate air bubbles, until the jar is nearly full. A SAGE HONEY label completes the preparation. All that is left to do is to store it in a cool, dark place and wait for six weeks. From then on, or sooner if you really need it, the sage honey is ready to use. Just dig in! Put a heaping tablespoonful in a big mug of boiling hot water, stir and drink. Or let it brew for a few minutes, strain and drink.


    Be sure to use Salvia sages, the ones with pebbly-fleshed ovate leave, not Artemisia sages which have white hairs on the backs of the ferny leaves. White sage, frequently sold as a "smudge" herb (that is, an herb whose smoke is used to create a protective field around a space) is a Salvia sage but it is too strong for use as a food or medicine.


    I make honeys of other fresh mint family plants, too. (No, dried plants don't make good honeys.) Besides fresh sage honey I often make peppermint honey, lemon balm honey, rosemary honey, thyme honey, oregano honey, marjoram honey, shiso honey, and bergamot honey. They all help me stay healthy throughout the winter, and they all taste ever so good.


    Although the tincture and essential oil of sage are available, I find them too concentrated and too dangerous for general use. Households with children do best when there are no essential oils on hand; fatal accidents have occurred.

    I do make sage vinegar: by pouring room temperature apple cider vinegar over a jar filled with chopped fresh sage. Sage vinegar is not as medicinal as the tea but, with olive oil and tamari, it makes a delicious and healthy salad dressing. Two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar daily can reduce your risk of adult onset diabetes by half; two tablespoons of sage vinegar daily might just keep you alive forever, as the saying goes: "Why die when the Savior grows in your garden?"


    Using herbs as allies to stay healthy and to counter life's ordinary problems is simple and easy, safe and effective. Herbal medicine is people's medicine. Green blessings grow all around you.


    Green Blessings.
    Susun S Weed

  • Monday, August 26, 2019 6:42 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Herbal Adventures with Susun S Weed
    Poke
    (Phytolacca americana)





     

    As you no may recall, I am astride a horse, riding through Provence, singing to the scotch broom, inhaling lavender, rosemary and thyme, drinking teas of elder blossom or linden flowers, swigging St. Joan's wort tincture, rubbing myself with Joan's wort oil, spraying myself with yarrow tincture, and hoarding my osha root in case there's an emergency. What else is in my herbal first-aid kit? With the abundance of herbs around me, what else did I bring to France? What herbs do I carry with me whenever I leave home?


    Of the herbs in my herbal first-aid kit, osha is the rarest one I use. But poke is the most dangerous, and comfrey the most controversial.


    Poke plants (Phytolacca americana) are large, showy perennials. Living as they do year after year, they accumulate a huge, spindle-shaped, root. In southern Virginia I once met an ancient poke plant whose root top was over two feet from one side to the other. The flashy, hot pink stalks, leaves that are big and smooth all over (edges too), and bunches of nearly black berries held at eye level make this weed easy to recognize and remember. All parts of the poke plant can be used: some for medicine, and some for food.

    Yes, even though poke is considered a violent poisoner, people eat it. The leaves, cooked in several changes of water, are a specialty green below the Mason-Dixon line, where supermarkets carry canned poke sallet (or sallat). To make your own sallet: Collect very young poke greens as early as possible in the season (late April to mid-May in the Catskills, as early as February in Georgia). Pour boiling water over the greens and boil them one minute. Discard water. Add more boiling water and again boil the greens for one minute. Discard the water. Do this at least twice more before attempting to eat the greens. If you fail to leach out the poisonous compounds -- or are foolish enough to attempt to eat poke leaves raw -- your mouth and throat will feel like they are on fire, you may vomit, and you will no doubt have copious diarrhea.

    Magenta is the color of crushed poke berries. Good for body paint, and great for ink. (Ammonia, used carefully, is the fixative.) The small seeds in the berries are very poisonous. Lucky for us, they are too hard for our teeth to break open. I have had pokeberry jam (no worse than blackberry jam, that is, seedy) and pokeberry jelly (ah, no seeds) and pokeberry pie (seedy). Since children are attracted to poke plants and since the berries leave telltale stains on children's mouths and since many parents are frightened if their child eats anything wild, and since medical personnel know little about poke except that it is poisonous, lots of kids have their stomach pumped (for no good reason, since they can't break open the seeds either) after investigating the taste of poke berries..

    I keep a supply of dried poke berries on hand. One or two berries, swallowed whole with water, as if you were taking a pill, relieves the pain of rheumatism and arthritis. I always caution students to experiment with poke in the safety of their homes first. What is poisonous in large dose is often psychoactive in smaller doses, and such is certainly the case with poke. You may find yourself seeing the world a little differently after ingesting poke berries. . . nothing so blatant as hallucinations, but definitely an altered state. I pick and dry fresh poke berries each year as they are especially easily infected with insect larva and thus don't keep for a long time.

    But the part of the poke plant that I carry with me in my first-aid kit is the root, tincture of the fresh root, to be exact. That's where the poisons are the most concentrated. Need I say great care in needed in wise use of this remedy? I dig only one poke root every decade or so, for the dose I use is minuscule. I choose a root that is at least three years old (the standard for digging any perennial root), rinse the soil from it, chop it coarsely, and tincture it for a minimum of six weeks in one hundred proof vodka. (No, eighty proof won't work. And, yes, it must be a fresh root, as drying seems to remove the active properties.)

    I take a dose of one drop -- yes, only one drop -- once or twice a day to kick my immune system into high gear. Poke root tincture contains compounds that can harm the kidneys if it is taken continuously. I reserve its use for emergencies and do not consider it especially helpful to the immune system. Isn't it well named? It pokes the immune system and speeds up pokey lymphatic drainage. I have known a single drop to reverse chronic infections that have simmered for years, getting more and more resistant to drugs. Of course, poke root tincture, is used by those with cancer. Sometimes with astonishing results. (See Breast Cancer? Breast Health! the Wise Woman Way for lots more information on using poke to counter cancer.

    My friend, Isla Burgess, director of the Waikato Center for Herbal Studies, finds poke root tincture a powerful ally for women dealing with fibroids or endometriosis. She used it herself with excellent results. Her doses were larger, but built up gradually over a period of days, as I suggest for those dancing with cancer. In extreme situations, an individual may be able to use doses of 15 drops a day. I know of some instances where doses of 30 drops a day were used, but this usually creates unwelcome side effects.

    I carry poke with me as insurance -- on the off chance that I may be exposed in my travels to some new and potentially deadly bug. Had I been in Beijing when SARS broke out, I would have taken it. I would not take poke as a precaution; it is far too strong to be used that way. Only if I knew that I was likely to have been exposed to the pathogen would I use it (one drop twice a day; if I felt symptoms, I would increase to four times a day or more, as seemed reasonable at the time). How reassuring to know that a simple home-made tincture of a common garden weed can give my immune system the boost it needs when confronted with danger. An herbal first aid kit may seem insignificant in the face of the troubles in our nation and in the world, but it is a step toward health independence and -- I believe -- a step toward peace. Instead of making war on weeds like poke, I love them. Instead of making war on nature, I take her as a guide. Instead of making war on myself when I have an injury or illness, a problem or a pain, I nourish myself toward ever greater health. Green blessings surround us, uplifting our hearts and bringing joy even in trying and uncertain times. May the dancing green woman (thank you Lisa Thiel) fill you with peace.


    Green Blessings

  • Monday, August 26, 2019 5:32 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Weed Walk with Susun



    Jack/Jill in the pulpit (Ariseama atrorubens)
    AKA Indian turnip, Dragonroot


    There really are both Jacks and Jills in the spathe of this flower. Lift the lid carefully and see for yourself. All parts of the fresh plant are horribly irritating to the mucus surfaces of the digestive system, so this is considered a poisonous plant, though native people did use it for both food and medicine. Milk is the antidote should you decide to try it yourself. Protect this plant.

     



    Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum biflorum)


    This is another plant now considered poisonous that native people used medicinally, though mostly externally. All varities (such as P. multiflorum) are considered interchangeable. A European variety (P. odoratum), which contains a constituent that lowers blood sugar, is still in regular use, especially in China. Protect this plant.



    Lady’s slipper orchid (Cypripedium pubescens)

    AKA Moccasin flower


    Protect this plant. The root of this prized orchid was formerly used is women’s tonics to counter hysteria and headaches. Like most perennials of the forest, it is now in danger and modern herbalists use other plants (such as motherwort) to help women who are anxious and nervous. Protect this plant.

  • Monday, August 26, 2019 1:59 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Healthy Bones The Wise Woman Way
    by Susun S Weed




    Every woman I know is concerned about osteoporosis. Frightening stories equate it with broken hips, bent spines, wheelchairs, and death--things we all want to avoid. What can we do? Should we take calcium supplements? hormones? Fosamax? Can we rely on our green allies?

    The Wise Woman tradition maintains that simple lifestyle choices-- including, but not limited to, regular use of nourishing herbal infusions, medicinal herbal vinegars, yogurt, and seaweed -- are sufficient to preserve bone and prevent breaks. And, further, that these lifestyle choices produce multiple health benefits, including reduction of heart disease and breast cancer, without the problems and risks associated with taking hormones. As for supplements, as we will see, they do more harm than good.


    Forget Osteoporosis

    First, we must rid ourselves of the idea that osteoporosis is important. In the Wise Woman Tradition, we focus on the patient, not the problem. There are no diseases and no cures for diseases. When we focus on osteoporosis, we cannot see the whole woman. The more we focus on disease, even disease prevention, the less likely we are to know how to nourish health/wholeness/holiness.

    In fact, focusing our attention narrowly on the prevention of osteoporosis actually increases the incidence of breast cancer. The postmenopausal women with the highest bone mass are the most likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer. Women who take estrogen replacement to prevent osteoporosis, even for as little as five years, increase their risk of breast cancer by twenty percent; if they take hormone replacement, the risk increases by forty percent.

    These risks might be vindicated if we could show a correlation between bone density and bone breakage, but there isn't one. When I found myself at dinner last year (2000) with Susan Brown, director of the Osteoporosis Information Clearing House, I asked her to point me in the direction of any study that shows a clear relationship between osteoporosis and broken bones. She smiled. "There are none."

    "In a recent study," she continued. "Researchers measured the bone density of people over 65 who had broken bones. Twenty-five percent had osteoporosis. Twenty-five percent had high bone density. And fifty percent had normal density." Notice that those with high bone density broke their hips as frequently as those with osteoporosis.

    Get Flexible

    If osteoporosis isn't the problem, what is it? In a word: inflexibility. Flexible bones bend; stiff bones break. This holds true even if the flexible bone is thin, even if the stiff bone is thick. Think of a piece of dead pine wood. Though it may be thick, it is brittle and breaks easily. Think of a green pine twig, even a small one is nearly impossible to break. Flexible bones, whether thick or thin, bend rather than break.

    Flexibility is synonymous with health in the Wise Woman Tradition. It is created by nourishing and tonifying. Bone flexibility is created by nourishing the bones and tonifying the muscles around them. Tonifying is as important as nourishing, but because we are herbalists, let's focus on the benefits nourishing herbs offer to women who wish to have strong, flexible bones.


    Nourishing Our Bones

    Old age does not make weak bones. Poor nutrition makes weak bones.

    What are bones made of? Like all tissues, they contain protein. They are rich in minerals, not just calcium, but also potassium, manganese, magnesium, silica, iron, zinc, selenium, boron, phosphorus, sulphur, chromium, and dozens of others. And in order to use those minerals, vitamin D must be present and the diet must contain high-quality fats.

    Bones Need Protein

    I have heard, and no doubt you have too, that animal protein leaches calcium from the bones. This is only half true. All protein, whether from meat, beans, soy, grains, or vegetables, uses calcium in digestion. Protein from soy is especially detrimental to bone health; soy is not only naturally deficient in calcium, it also directly interferes with calcium uptake in the bones. Traditional diets combine protein and calcium (e.g. seaweed with tofu, tortillas made from corn ground on limestone with beans, and melted cheese on a hamburger). Protein-rich herbs such as stinging nettle, oatstraw, red clover, and comfrey leaf provide plenty of calcium too, as do yogurt, cheese, and milk (which also provide the healthy fats needed to utilize the minerals). Limiting protein limits bone health. Increasing mineral-rich proteins increases bone health.

    Bones Need High-Quality Fats

    Hormones are kinds of fats, and cholesterol is the precursor to many of them. Post-menopausal bone problems do not, to my mind, arise from a lack of estrogen, but from a lack of fat. If the diet is deficient in good-quality fats, hormones will be produced in inadequate amounts. And vitamin D, a hormone-like vitamin, will not be utilized well. Further, mineral absorption is dependent on fats. A low-fat diet, in my opinion, makes it quite difficult to have healthy bones.

    Bones Need Minerals

    Bones do need calcium, and they are the last to get it, so our diets need to be very rich in this mineral. But to focus on calcium to the exclusion of other minerals leads to broken bones, for calcium is brittle and inflexible. Think of a piece of chalk, calcium carbonate, and how easily it breaks. A six-and-a-half year study of 10,000 white women over the age of 65 found that "Use of calcium supplements was associated with increased risk of hip and vertebral fracture; use of Tums TM antacid tablets was associated with increased risk of fractures of the proximal humerus." The other minerals found in bone lend it flexibility. When we get our calcium from herbs and foods (containing a multitude of minerals) we nourish healthy bones.

    Extracting Minerals

    From the Wise Woman perspective, the perfect way to maintain bone health, bone flexibility, and resistance to fracture is to use mineral-rich herbs and foods. Because minerals are bulky, and do not compact, we must consume generous amounts to make a difference in our health. Just as eating a teaspoon a carrots is laughable, so is taking mineral-rich herbs in capsule or tincture form. Because minerals are rocklike, we need to break open cell walls to get at them. Raw, fresh foods do not deliver minerals to our bodies.

    To extract minerals, we need heat, time, and generous quantities of plant material. I prefer to extract minerals into water or vinegar. To make a nourishing herbal infusion, I pour one quart/liter boiling water over one ounce/30 grams of dried herb in a canning jar, covering it tightly, and letting it brew overnight. In the morning, I strain out the mineral-rich liquid and drink it -- over ice or heated, with honey or milk, mixed with black tea, seasoned with mint, spiked with rum, however you want it. You can drink the entire quart in one day, but do finish it within two.

    My favorite nourishing herbal infusions are made from oatstraw (Avena sativa) or nettle (Urtica dioica) or red clover (Trifolium pratense) or comfrey leaves (Symphytum uplandica x). I sometimes add a little bit of aromatic herb such as peppermint (Mentha pipperata), lemon balm (Melissa off.), or bergamot (Monarda didyma) to change the flavor.

    To extract minerals from fruits and vegetables, I cook them for long periods of time, or until there is color and texture change, evidence that the cell walls have been broken. Kale cooked for an hour delivers far more mineral to your bones than lightly steamed kale. Fresh juices contain virtually no minerals. Cooking maximizes the nutrients available to us, especially the minerals.

    Herbs Are Mineral Powerhouses

    Eating a cup of cooked greens every day is difficult, even for the most motivated woman. But drinking nourishing herbal infusions, eating seaweeds, and using medicinal herbal vinegars is easy. They are tasty, fun to prepare and use, and add a big nutritional plus with virtually no calories attached. Nourishing herbs and garden weeds are typically far richer in minerals than ordinary foodstuffs. Not only are nourishing herbs exceptional sources of minerals, their minerals are better at preventing bone breaks than supplements.

    The ability of herbs to counter osteoporosis may be more complex than their richness of minerals, however. The minerals in green plants seem to be utilized more readily by the body and to be ideal for keeping bones healthy. Dr. Campbell, professor of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University, has done extensive research in rural China where the lowest known fracture rates for mid-life and older women were found. He says, "The closer people get to a diet based on plant foods and leafy vegetables, the lower the rates of many diseases, including osteoporosis."

    In Summation

    My own experiences in helping women regain and maintain bone density and flexibility have led me to believe that lifestyle modifications work exceptionally well for motivated women who wish to avoid the risks and expense of long-term pill use. Nourishing herbal infusions, mineral-rich herbal vinegars, yogurt, and seaweed, combined with attention to tonification of the muscles, unfailingly increases bone density and creates flexible, healthy bones and women.

    Green blessings to you all.



    8 Keys to Healthy Bones

    • Good nutrition for your mother while pregnant with you.
    • Good nutrition for you during the formation of your bones.
    • Monthly menses throughout your fertile years, especially before 30.
    • Special attention to maintaining high levels of protein, fat, minerals, and vitamins from herbs and foods in your diet when menses cease during pregnancy, lactation, or after menopause.
    • Regular rhythmical movement, the faster the better, daily.
    • Consistent practice of yoga, tai chi, or any strengthening, opening, flexibility-building discipline.
    • Chop wood, carry water.
    • Eat yogurt.
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