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  • Tuesday, October 22, 2019 7:00 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Fibromyalgia
    by Susun Weed



    ~ Part Two ~


    "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 3:       Nourish and Tonify

    • Consistent use of nourishing herbal infusions, especially comfrey leaf and stinging nettle, in place of coffee, tea, and sodas is the single most effective thing I know for mitigating and overcoming fibromyalgia.

    • Gentle exercise--walks, yoga or tai chi practices--keeps muscles from weakening and becoming more painful. Experts suggest starting with as little as three minutes a day, and gradually building to at least four sessions of five minutes each per day. Persist; the reward is worth it.

    • Regular consumption of yogurt also proves very helpful for those with fibromyalgia. Perhaps it is due to yogurt's ability to strengthen and nourish immunity; some suspect fibromyalgia is a result of immune system malfunction.

    • Magnesium is a critical nutrient for preventing pain in muscles and connective tissues. Legumes, whole grains, leafy greens and nourishing herbal infusions--like nettle and oatstraw--are the best sources.

    • Moxibustion is also known as needleless acupuncture. Safe and easy to do at home by yourself, moxibustion gives fast relief from sore joints and aching muscles. It not only relieves pain but tonifies, decreasing future pain and gradually affecting a "cure." You can buy a moxa "cigar" at an Oriental pharmacy or health food store. Bring the glowing end of the moxa (after lighting it) near the painful area and move it around in small slow spirals until the heat becomes too intense. (This may take a few minutes or many.) Pain relief is usually immediate and often lasts for twelve or more hours.

     

    Step 4:       Stimulate/Sedate

    Tinctures of willow bark or spirea (1-2 dropperfuls/1-2 ml is a dose) are highly recommended as important green allies by women dealing with fibromyalgia.


    St. Joan's wort tincture--not capsules, not the tea--is a powerful ally for women with fibromyalgia. It is one of the best muscle relaxants I have ever used. A 25-30 drop dose not only stops but also prevents muscle aches. I have used it as frequently as every twenty minutes (for ten doses) when the occasion has necessitated it. St. Joan's wort prevents soreness when taken after exercise; and even better if taken before. I take a dose every hour while on an airplane to prevent muscle aches and jetlag.


    Regular massage from an experienced therapist stimulates the circulation of blood and energy, relieves pain, reduces fatigue, and eases stiffness. Avoid deep tissue massage; it increases pain. Light strokes and gentle myofascial releases are more helpful. Chiropractic manipulations are of little benefit.


    Massage with heated stones and other heat treatments works wonders for some women. For others, cold treatments work better (but not too cold, and not for too long either, please).


    Ginger compresses, hot or cold, stir up circulation and mobilize the body's own healing agents to take action and ease your pain. I grate several ounces of fresh ginger into simmering water, cook it gently for ten minutes, then soak a cloth in the liquid and use that as an application to the sore area.


    The National Institute of Health lists fibromyalgia as one of the few conditions that acupuncture can relieve.


    If lying down while sleeping makes the pain worse, slip into something relaxing: valerian, skullcap, or St. Joan's wort tinctures, up to a dropperful/1 ml of any one, repeated twice if needed.

     

    Step 5a:     Use Supplements

    • A study found little benefit from those with fibromyalgia taking either SAM-e or 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan--a precursor to serotonin). Do not use 5-HTP if you are taking St. Joan's/John's wort.
    • Lack of sleep can quickly aggravate symptoms of fibromyalgia. (See Step 0.) If sleep confounds you, melatonin at bedtime, the lowest dose you can get, may help.

     

    Step 5b:     Use Drugs

    • Essential oil of lavender was recommended by several women who have dealt with fibromyalgia for many years. Dilute with jojoba or olive oil and use as a rub.

    • Orthodox treatment of fibromyalgia relies heavily on drugs, primarily antispasmodics, antidepressants and muscle-relaxants. But Celebrex, Vioxx, Valteran, amitriptyline (Elavil), fluoxetine (Prozac), vanlafaxine (Effecor), trazadone (Desyrel), alprazolam (Xanax), and cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril) can adversely affect the liver and disrupt the immune system.

    • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen do not reduce fibromyalgia pain for most women.

    • Tramadol (Ultram) is a drug which addresses both the altered brain chemicals and the pain signals of those with fibromyalgia.

     

    Step 6:       Break and Enter

    • Beware invasive diagnostic tests. Many women report enduring endless rounds of tests trying to put a name to their pains with no success and at the price of physical, mental, and emotional distress.

    • Injections of lidocaine, a drug that temporarily numbs nerves, are effective in relieving fibromyalgia pain for some women. Injections of capsaicin (from cayenne) relieve pain by destroying nerve endings.

    An excerpt from New Menopausal Years, the Wise Woman Way, Alternative Approaches for Women 30-90 by Susun Weed. 

    Available at www.wisewomanbookshop.com

  • Tuesday, October 22, 2019 5:33 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Becoming a Herbalist
    Part Two
    by Susun S. Weed




    What a relief to leave behind the bustle of New York City and settle into the rhythms of Nature. In the city the parks were paved and nature was something we had to seek out and visit. Now my toddler daughter and I had a green lawn and an herb garden. We could spend as much time outdoors as we wanted. We were part of Nature and She was surely part of us.

    And what an outdoors we had to play in. We were surrounded by the Catskill State Forest: thousands of acres of hardwood forest, with mushrooms, mosses, ferns, waterfalls, birds, wildflowers and even wild orchids. It was truly a fairyland filled with delight for a young mother and daughter.

    After breakfast, my daughter and I would pack lunch and some guidebooks, and set out along the familiar trails into the heart of the forest. We wandered as we would, moving from mushroom to mushroom, flower to flower, stream to stream, rock to rock as the desire took us. And as the light grew dim in the evening, we made our way home, fording the creek that ran past our door, or perhaps staying out even later when the moon was full.

    At night, I would sketch and paint the magic I had found that day, putting names to the new plants and mushrooms, learning something new about the familiar ones. My interest in herbs was still just a flirtation, but they increasingly drew my attention as I sought to learn about the beautiful flowers, leaves, and berries that grew around me.

    As I moved into Nature's rhythm, following her seasons and cycles, She rewarded me with a special place to live. A mile from the nearest neighbor, at the end of a dead-end dirt road, lay the big barn and lovely house. The previous owners were organic gardeners, and the flower and vegetable beds astonished me with their perennial abundance and ever-changing beauty.

    Here my days were more intensely filled. Wanderings in the woods, yes, but not every day. There was the garden to tend and herbs to grow, my bread-baking business, the hour drive to take my daughter to her playgroup, maple syrup to boil down in the spring, tomatoes to can in the fall, blueberries to pick in the summer, and firewood to gather, cut, split, and stack for winter warmth.

    I might have lived there for decades, but for this: My beautiful home in the country was vandalized and I was held at gunpoint. No lasting harm was done, but I was severely traumatized. I was unable to sleep in my bedroom and cried uncontrollably anywhere in the house. Only outside did I feel easy.

    Perhaps I had a nervous breakdown, or suffered from post-traumatic shock; then, I had no name for my nameless fear. So, in a desperate attempt to create safe space for myself, we sold our beautiful farm, bought a Land Rover station wagon, and set out to explore the parks and wild places of North America.

    When your life is on the road, you pare down your possessions and what is important becomes clear: tools, food, cooking gear, purple shorts, and the guide books. Actually, the book shelf needed to be expanded several times that year, as I bought more and more books about wild plants, mushrooms and wild flowers.

    Cooking over a campfire night after night and camping far from supermarkets increased the pressure and the pleasure in finding wild foods to nourish myself and my family. Meanwhile, I was discovering that the herbs, wildflowers, and even the weeds that was coming to love, were considered by some to be medicinal.

    More than a year (and many high adventures later), we found ourselves in California, at a friend's house, where we were gathered up in a police dragnet. I spent a week in jail, fearful of the fate of my daughter, who I had left with the (nice-looking) older woman next door (on the pretext that she was the "grandmother"). We were safely reunited, but my husband was detained and eventually sentenced to four years in prison. The lawyer said he might be able to get him into Danbury, a minimum security federal prison, if l would move back east.

    Once again, the Catskills called. So I put myself and my four year old daughter into the Land Rover and, with my brand-new driver's license, drove from Santa Monica to Vancouver (where we had an apartment) and from there to Woodstock. I didn't have any idea that herbs could have helped me, but I knew that Nature was my refuge.

    I would drive all day, and, as night gathered, turn off the main road onto a smaller road, and from there onto a smaller road, and eventually into a dirt road into a forest, where I would cook a small dinner and sleep lulled by the sounds of the creatures large and small. One night I felt so much grief that I threw up; but the next morning incredible butterflies moved gracefully across the ground I had soiled the night before, and I understood that beauty is everywhere, hidden even in pain and loss and fear.

    Did I mention that the Land Rover was constantly breaking down? Of course, it was. Fortunately, I knew how to fix most things that went wrong with it. But the day I arrived in Woodstock, something BIG broke and I was out of wheels for a while. Thus I found myself hitching a ride to town and thus I found myself being charmed by Aaron van de B. Jr, a man, who, in his own words: "Been in these mountains so long I know what's under every rock. " *

    Within the hour my daughter and I had a place to live: a Quonset hut on Cross Patch Road, with a front yard full of hundred year-old ginseng plants, and an enormous cage to hold the occasional wild animal that Aaron had to tend to, being as he was the Forest Ranger.

    It was here that my path as an herbalist was clearly revealed to me, but, of course, I tried to ignore the message.

        * In the Catskills, what's under every rock is another one!



    Read Part One

  • Tuesday, October 15, 2019 5:38 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Weed Walk with Susun




    Thistle (Cirsium discolor)



    This is the common field thistle, but a species identification is not really needed when it comes to thistles, which are easy to recognize by their spiny leaves and fancy flowers. All thistles are used in much the same way. Milk thistle seed is the one we all turn to for liver help, but the entire tribe of thistles is always ready to provide food and medicine. A pair of scissors is helpful in cutting the spines off the leaves before eating them. The roots are often sweet and tasty baked.

  • 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

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