Wise Woman Herbal Ezine

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  • Monday, August 31, 2020 3:51 PM | Anonymous

    Dried Tomato Pâté

    By Susun Weed

    excerpt from: Abundantly Well:
    Seven Medicines

    Spread on crackers, spoon into soup, add to omelets.

    ~ Pack dried tomatoes into a one-cup measure.

    ~ Add boiling water to just barely cover.

    When tomatoes are soft, strain out the soaking liquid; save.
    Put half the tomatoes in a blender or Cuisinart mini-prep.

    ~ Add ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil.

    ~ Add 1-2 cloves garlic, chopped.

    ~ Add a little sea salt
    Blend well.

    ~ Add the rest of the soaked tomatoes.

    ~ Add 1-2 more cloves of chopped garlic.

    ~ Add a little more salt.

    ~ And enough olive oil or soaking liquid to enable blending.
    Blend very well.

    You can eat this immediately or keep it in a tightly covered jar in the refrigerator for up to a month.

  • Tuesday, August 11, 2020 3:19 PM | Anonymous
    Make An Infused Oil
    excerpt from: Abundantly Well: Seven Medicines
    by Susun Weed

    Oil and animal fat coax a variety of healing compounds out of fresh plants.
    Dried plants, with a few exceptions, will never make a great oil.

    * Calendula oil calms inflammation and irritation.

    * Chickweed (pictured) oil softens and dissolves cysts and scars.

    * Comfrey oil is tricky from fresh; heals tears and breaks.

    * Plantain oil stops itching, hastens deep wound recovery.

    * St. Joan's wort oil eases burns, muscle soreness, nerve pain.

    Fill a dry jar almost full with finely-chopped fresh herb, then fill with any edible oil/fat.

    Cap tightly. Label (on lid). Put in a smallbowl to catch ooze.

    Steep, out of direct sunlight, for six weeks.

    Sieve plant material from oil, squeeze well.

  • Wednesday, July 22, 2020 1:53 PM | Anonymous

    Purslane Gazpacho
    serves 6-8
    Preparation time about one hour including picking the herbs.

    This dish is a late summer favorite. It looks like confetti with the purple shiso, the green basil, the white cucumber, and the red and orange tomatoes. Everyone loves it, even kids, because it has no raw onion (hooray!) and no raw garlic and absolutely no hot pepper of any kind.

    Cut juicy, ripe tomatoes (if possible, half red ones and half orange ones) into half-inch squares. Carefully retain all liquid and place in large bowl with 6 cups cut tomatoes. Peel and remove pulp and seeds from young cucumbers. Cut into half-inch squares and add 4 cups cut cucumbers to bowl. Add 1 tablespoon sea salt. Mix well, cover, and set aside in the refrigerator for several hours. Just before serving, add 4 cups purslane tender tips (whole or chopped), about 20 fresh basil leaves and about 10 fresh shiso leaves (cut across the leaf into moderate-sized "shreds"), 2-3 teaspoons granulated garlic, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil. Adjust seasonings as desired.

    Purslane Pickles
    Preparation time about 15 minutes, including picking the purslane.

    Use any size jar with a plastic lid. Narrow-necked bottles can be a problem. Fill your jar or bottle with freshly-harvested purslane cut into two-inches pieces. Leave a little space at the top. Fill the jar or bottle with room-temperature apple cider vinegar, being sure to completely cover the plant material. Cover. (Metal lids will corrode; do not use.) Label, including date. This is ready to use in six weeks; but will stay good for up to a year.

    Green Blessings

  • Wednesday, July 22, 2020 1:42 PM | Anonymous

    The Joy of Purslane
    by Susun Weed


    Herbs are powerhouses of nutrition. Used wisely and regularly, herbs can replace costly pills and supplements, and even some drugs. For example, if you currently take fish oil capsules, omega-3 oil capsules, flax oil, or anti-depressants, a switch to purslane could improve your health and save you lots of money, too.

    Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) is a common weed in cultivated soils throughout the United States. You won't find purslane in the supermarket or health food store (yet); you'll have to discover it in the wild, which is very easy to do if you look during the summer. In the country, look in gardens. In the city, look in flower beds and planters.

    With its thick red recumbent (laying on the ground) stalks and its small fleshy green leaves, purslane looks like a tender succulent, not a hardy annual whose seeds find it easy to survive long cold winters. When you find purslane, harvest it by cutting the tender tips -- as little as one inch or as much as eight inches, depending on the size of the plant.

    Eat fresh purslane alone dressed with olive oil and vinegar or lightly sauteed in butter, or add it to salads and soups. Try Purslane Pickles. Or cool off with Purslane Gazpacho.

    Herbalist James Duke says purslane contains up to 4000 ppm of the omega-3 fatty-acid alpha linolenic acid (ALA); that means a 100 gram serving (between 3 and 4 ounces) contains 400 mg of ALA. Purslane-fed chickens lay eggs that have twenty times more omega-3's than regular eggs. Eating purslane is tastier, safer, and more effective than taking omega-3 supplements. To increase the effect, Duke suggests adding walnut oil to your purslane.

    Purslane counters depression. It is one of the five herbs -- lettuce, amaranth greens, lamb's quarters greens, and watercress are the other four -- richest in antidepressant substances. Purslane is a superior source of calcium, magnesium, potassium, phenylalanine, and tryptophan, all of which are known to moderate the effects of depressive brain chemicals.

    Purslane is loaded with nutrients. A single one-cup serving contains all the vitamin E you need in a day, as well as significant amounts of vitamin C and pro-vitamin A. Purslane is one of the very best sources of magnesium. One cup supplies your minimum daily need of 450 mg. Lack of magnesium is associated with diabetes, migraines, osteoporosis, hypertension, and asthma.

    And, that one cup of fresh purslane gives you over 2000 mg of calcium and 8000 mg of potassium. Women who take calcium supplements do nothing to strengthen their bones. Women who eat foods rich in calcium -- such as yogurt, stinging nettles, and purslane -- have flexible bones which resist breaking.

    Purslane seeds have been found in caves in Greece that were inhabited 16,000 years ago.

    Does purslane have a place in your life? Remember that herbs are not drugs and they don't work in drug-like ways. Herbs nourish, strengthen, and tonify. Their effects are deep-rooted and may be slow to become visible. Because purslane is a food, it is generally considered safe to use it even if you are taking multiple drugs. As the effects of the purslane become apparent, and if your medical advisor agrees, you may wish to slowly lessen the amount and number of drugs and supplements you take.

  • Wednesday, July 22, 2020 1:34 PM | Anonymous

    by Susun Weed

    With so many abilities to offer, it is no wonder that burdock (Articum lappa) is a beloved ally of wise women and herbalists everywhere. Burdock's action is most profound on lymph, sweat, and oil glands, though its influence is felt in the liver, lungs, kidneys, stomach, uterus, and joints.

    Medicines made from the fresh burdock root are always preferable and superior to dried root preparations. Burdock is not for people in a hurry, or most acute problems; burdock works thoroughly and slowly.

    Use burdock root as a nourishing tonic, a skin clearer, a super cooler, a slick trick in the guts, and a guardian of your inner flows.

    • Dose of fresh burdock root tincture is 30-240 drops a day, in water
    • Dose of dried burdock root infusion is 1/2-2 cups/125ml-500ml a day.
    • Dose of burdock root decoction is 1-9 teaspoons/5-45ml a day.

  • Wednesday, July 22, 2020 1:13 PM | Anonymous

    Headaches and Migraines?
    by Susun S. Weed

    “Oh, how densely packed your head is, my sweet,” sighs Grandmother Growth. “I'm afraid there's no room for new growth. If you could empty your mind, leave off worrying and planning for a while, and give in to the chaos and its random pleasures, just for a short time, I think you'd feel less pressure and your head would hurt less. The energy of your womb now circulates inside you and throbs in your head. Sit quietly; breathe out through the top of your head and imagine the breath falling gently down to earth. Rest your forehead against the earth. Place this cool stone on your third eye. Your Crone's Crowning comes closer. This is the work of your body; let your mind rest.”


    Step 0: Do Nothing

    • Follow your natural instinct: lie in total silence, in complete darkness, and sleep, if possible, until the headache is gone.

    • Like fatigue, a headache, especially a migraine, is a way to get some time alone. Is finding time for yourself usually a headache?


    Step 1: Collect Information

    • Menopause often brings relief to the woman who has had migraine headaches since adolescence. Other women experience headaches for the first time during menopause, usually the result of fatigue, stress, rapidly changing hormone levels racing through the liver, and rushes of kundalini moving into the crown area.

    • Menopausal headaches may also be triggered by sudden (and usually short-lived) allergies to certain foods.

    • Headaches and migraines are a common side effect of ERT/HRT.

    Step 2. Engage the energy
    • Rub a drop of lavender or chamomile oil briskly between your hands. When palms are warm and tingly, place them on the part of your head that aches. (It's also wonderful to have someone do this for you.)
    • If it's tolerable for someone to hold your head, try this: Sit in a chair or lie down. Lean your head back into your friend's hands and allow them to support your head in their palms (fingers pointing down, thumbs above the ears) for up to five minutes. Breathe fully.

    •  Blinking red lights can relieve extreme or severe migraines, within an hour, 72 percent of the time. Wear goggles that restrict side vision for maximum effect.

    Women with chronic migraines often benefit greatly from the help of a skilled feminist therapist.

    Step 3. Nourish and tonify
    Tea, infusion, or tincture of garden sage leaves offers immediate relief from a headache and helps prevent future ones.
    Black cohosh root tincture or a vinegar of fresh willow leaves will ease a headache with pain- killing methyl salicylate. Ten drops of the tincture or one teaspoon/15 ml of the vinegar is equivalent to two aspirin.
    Vervain (Verbena officinalis) was a sacred herb in the ancient matriar-
    chies. Menopausal women use the tincture of fresh vervain flowers, 20-40 drops in water, before bed and as needed, to strengthen the nerves, relieve insomnia, dispel depression, treat nervous exhaustion, and
    moderate headaches, including migraines. (Vervain was a favored plant for the Maiden's altar and the moon lodge, where she was used to promote the onset of the menstrual flow, ease cramps, reduce flooding, and quicken desire.)
    • Lady's mantle, another ancient sacred plant, has many magical attri-butes, including an ability to aid women who are taking on or leaving
    the role of mother. What a wonderful friend for an emerging crone! Try 10-25 drops of the tincture of the fresh herb several times a day to relieve headaches.
    • The beautiful spring primrose (Primula veris) offers relief from meno-pausal headaches if taken regularly. The golden carpet of Schlesselblume on Bavarian pastures and roadsides is one of my favorite memories of Germany. If you don't visit or live in Bavaria, you can grow and gather the blossoms of Primula officinalis instead; they're also a good source of pain-killing salicyn. Make a tea of the dried flowers and drink several cups a day for some months.
    CAUTION: Sip your first cup mindfully and slowly, as some folks are allergic to primrose.
    : The roots of most primroses contain oil-soluble estrogenic factors and cell-softening saponins, suggesting use as an ointment for tender, dry vaginal tissue.

    • Connections between foods and headaches are sketchy. There is little evidence that plants indigenous to the Americas, such as chocolate and nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, peppers, tobacco) contribute to headaches. I do suspect that chemicals in processed foods (such as aspartame, MSG, and nitrates) and in some natural ones (aged cheeses, miso, red wine) can trigger headaches. With other foods, you're the best judge.

    Step 4. Stimulate/Sedate
    • Avoid alcohol. It is a known headache trigger.
    • Keep cool. Being hot, from hot baths, saunas, hot flashes, exertion, or air temperature, is the second most common headache trigger. Stay cool. Stay in the shade. And just say “no” to hot tubs.
    • Sedate headache pain with tinctures of skullcap, 3-5 drops, and
    St. Joan's wort, 25-30 drops. I take them together, as frequently as needed, up to half a dozen times a day. Migraine sufferers take them as soon as the aura begins, before there is pain, and repeat every ten minutes for 3-6 doses.
    • Anti-inflammatory, hormone-rich wild yam eases the aching heads of menopausal women. A dose of wild yam root tincture is 10-30 drops up to 6 times a day, or infused, 1-2 teacupsful a day. The lower dose, taken daily, relieves chronic headaches. In acute situations, use the higher dose.
    • Soak your feet in cool water scented with a few drops of rosemary oil. Breathe deeply.
    • Migraines are most frequent between 6 a.m. and noon. Take head-ache remedies before bed and on awakening to insure maximum effect.
    • To banish simple headaches, soak a handful of fresh lemon balm (Melissa) leaves in a glass of wine for an hour, or drink a tea of dried leaves. If you want sleep as part of your headache cure, substitute catnip (Nepeta cataria) for the melissa.
    • Feverfew (Chrysanthemum parthenium) is a much publicized remedy for migraine. It is most effective as a preventative measure: eat a sprig of the fresh plant daily. For acute headache, 2-4 fresh leaves or a cup of strong tea may help. CAUTION: May irritate mouth.

    Step 5b. Use drugs
    • Painkillers are many women's first thought for a headache remedy. But habitual use increases the duration and frequency of headaches.
    • Taking ERT/HRT? Ease off and see if your headaches ease up.

    Step 6. Break and enter
    • Some women say their headaches are so bad that they want to blow their brains out. Perhaps menopausal headaches, like sleeplessness, are part of the physical “mind-altering” process of becoming a crone.

    Excerpt from New Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way
    by Susun S. Weed


  • Tuesday, July 14, 2020 4:39 PM | Anonymous

    by Susun Weed


    The color of this soup is an unfortunate drab green, but the taste is
    indescribable and delectable.
    Serves 6


    • 4 cups fresh curly dock leaves
    • 1 cup diced onion
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 4 large potatoes, chopped
    • 6 cups water
    • salt to taste
    • 3 cups milk, yogurt, or cream

    Wash and chop dock leaves. Saute onion in olive oil until clear, then add greens and cook, stirring, until the bright greens turn drab green. Add potatoes, water, and salt. Bring to a boil; cook until potatoes are very soft. Cool slightly.

    Puree with an immersion blender or a food mill. Put your soup in the refrigerator at this point if you wish to serve it cold.

    Just before serving -- either hot or cold -- add milk or yogurt. Garnish with violet blossoms or rose petals.

    Preparation time: 45-60 minutes total; 35-40 initially, 5-10 just prior to serving; ten minutes in the garden or park to pick dock leaves. Be very careful when reheating this soup as it tends to scorch.

  • Tuesday, July 14, 2020 4:31 PM | Anonymous

    Soothing Sitz Bath, Healing Bath
    by Susun Weed


    Soothes inflamed and tender tissues, heals trauma, lubricates...


    • Soak 2 ounces/60g dried or 8 ounces/250g fresh mallow (pictured) or comfrey roots, leaves, and/or flowers in 2 quarts/liters of cold water in a pot overnight.
    • Then bring to a boil.
    • Cover, remove from heat, and steep for 4–6 hours.
    • Strain.
    • Warm the liquid, pour it into a small tub and sitz in it.

    Alternately, pour it into a hot bath.
    Or refrigerate and drink it. A dose is a cup or more a day —heated or iced, sweetened or not — daily for at least ten days.

    Excerpt from: Down There: Sexual and Reproductive Health the Wise Woman Way


  • Tuesday, July 14, 2020 3:56 PM | Anonymous

    The Polygonaceae family ~ Knotweed, Buckwheat, or Smartweed family
    by Susun S. Weed

    Bitter Dock (R. obtusifolius)

    Herbs that we can eat and use for medicine grow all over our planet. It's fun to travel and meet new herbs, or to read about, and then buy, the latest greatest green from someplace exotic.But I'm a great champion of using the plants that grow nearest to us: the weeds. Weeds pack a powerhouse punch of vitamins and minerals, reawaken our "wild woman" selves, and form the basis of most of my self-help medicines. I'm about to introduce you to a whole family of troublesome weeds. Despite their naughty ways, I'm sure you'll like them.


    If you have a garden, or access to a vacant lot or a farm, you'll surely find one or more members of the fascinating "many knees" family. The Polygonaceae (poly is "many," gona is "knee," as in genuflect) family is also known as the knotweed, buckwheat, or smartweed family. When I asked a couple of local farmers about smartweeds, one told me: "You got to be smart to know which ones to eat." His friend did not agree: "If you eat the wrong one, your tongue will smart!" he grinned.


    Whether your tongue is smart or smarting, no need to worry. There are no poisonous members of the "many knees" family, at least above ground. All the knotweeds produce edible (though not always delicious) greens and seeds. Below ground is a different story. Some dock roots are such violent cathartic laxatives that they are the next best thing to poisonous. "Many knees" refers to their swollen joints, or knots, which are usually found most easily by looking at the flowering stalk, right where the leaf meets the stalk. The knee is often covered by a conspicuous papery sheath, perhaps the plant equivalent of a silk stocking?


    One of the most stately ladies in this family -- and one who is always wearing her silk stockings -- is Miz Ruby Rhubarb (Rheum palmatum). She's also known as Chinese rhubarb, or turkey rhubarb, or one powerful way to blow out your colon. When men (and a few women) went to sea to kill whales, they subsisted on a diet of dried salted meat, dried beans, hardtack, and beer or rum. Not the kind of diet the doctor -- or the wise woman -- would recommend for regularity. Ruby provided that; she is one of the most regular women I know. The ships took on thousands of pounds of her, and the ships' hands--from the captain to the youngest boy--got a weekly dose of rhubarb root boiled in water. Watch out below!


    A more common, but just as beautiful, member of the "many knees" family is yellow dock (Rumex crispus). She has a heart of gold, but a will of iron. Women everywhere use her as an iron tonic, especially during pregnancy. (There's a recipe in Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year.) Her ability to improve digestive functioning -- by nourishing and tonifying the liver, stomach, spleen, and gall bladder -- as well as her tendency to get things moving makes her ideal for the latter months of parturition. She also has quite the reputation for giving cancer an eviction notice.


    "Dock" refers to any plant with big leaves. So the plant with big leaves and burrs is "burdock." And the big-leaved one where fairies play is called "elfdock" (another name for elecampane). An old name for comfrey is "heal-dock" since its big leaves heal everything. Yellow dock has big leaves too, and a yellow root. (And of course there's Bugs Bunny's favorite plant: "What's up doc?")

    Sheep Sorrel (R. acetosella)


    There are many related many-knee yellow docks including Rumex crispus (curly dock), R. acetosa (sour dock), R. acetosella (sheep sorrel), R. alpinus (Monk's rhubarb), R. aquatica (red dock), R. aquaticus (water dock), R. hymenosepalus (wild pie plant), R. mexicanus (Mexican dock), R. obtusifolius ( bitter dock), patientia (patience dock), R. scutatus (French sorrel), and R. verticillatus (swamp dock). No matter where you live, you ought to be able to make the acquaintance of my friend Mama Dock.


    Her towering hennaed hair-do is one of the easiest ways to pick her out of the crowd. (To the botanist it's a seed head, not a hair-do.) Her strap-like leaves are not that difficult to identify either.They are tasty cooked by themselves or with other spring greens. They are the star of a Russian soup I know as Shav.


    By mid-summer there's hardly a yellow dock leaf to be seen, but the flowering stalks are rising, rising, some up to 4 feet. Her flowers are green, not flashy, but en masse (especially if you find a field of sheep sorrel blooming) they have a faint reddish hue which hovers like a haze around them. The flowers mature into russety reddish-brown seeds which stay on the stalk for months, providing important nutrition to birds when snow covers the ground.


    Those seeds are not just related to buckwheat, they are wild buckwheat. I harvest them when they are mature and dark brown. If I wait too long they get too wet or too buggy. I harvest on a sunny day and lay the seedheads on shallow paper-lined trays to dry.


    To prepare the seeds, I strip them off the stalks and rub them briskly between my palms. While not sharp, the seeds and stalks are abrasive, so you may want to wear gloves if you are going to process a lot. It is nicest to do this outside in a light breeze. With a little practice, you can get the wind to take the husks away for you. Inside, you will need to use a sieve with holes too small to allow the seeds through, but big enough to pass the husks. Don't worry if some husk is still in with the seeds. They won't hurt you; they're just bitter.


    Seeds can be stored in glass jars until ready to use. They last about 20 years. Just before cooking, I lightly toast the yellow dock seeds in a cast iron skillet. This improves both the flavor and digestibility. Ordinary buckwheat seeds are white when harvested but brown when we buy them because they've been toasted. I usually grind my toasted wild buckwheat and combine it with wheat flour in pancakes (yum), muffins, and breads.

    Buckwheat greens -- in fact, all the edible leaves in this family including those from curly dock, french sorrel, and sheep sorrel -- are an excellent source of bioflavonoids, sometimes called vitamin P. Bioflavonoids support collagen production, helping our skin feel good and look good. Bioflavonoids increase capillary strength, which reduces bruising. They keep blood flowing freely, which helps prevent strokes. And they help our immune system build a protective barrier against infections, which makes us feel better in so many ways.


    I'm out of space and time already? There are so many more "many knees" to meet. and I didn't tell you why it is they are so naughty. Perhaps next time. For now, I urge you to grab a field guide, go outside and introduce yourself to the local knotweeds. I guarantee you'll be glad you did. Until we're together again, reweaving the healing cloak of the Ancients, I send you green blessings.

  • Tuesday, July 14, 2020 10:45 AM | Anonymous

    Weed Walk with Susun Weed

    Malva leaves, flowers, and seed pods (Malva neglecta)

    This mallow is prostrate and so often overlooked. All parts of it are delicious in salads: leaves, flowers, and seeds. The seeds look like a little gouda cheese, thus giving the plant its common name: cheeses. All members of malva family are edible, including hibiscus, rose of Sharon (Northern hibiscus), hollyhocks, and the numerous cultivars that are available.

    Carrot leaves (Daucus carota)

    The scent of carrot is unmistakable in the leaves of wild carrot or Queen Anne’s lace, so we need not worry that we will mistake it for its poisonous sisters like hemlock. Richer in potassium than bananas, wild carrot leaflets are tasty in summer salads. (I don’t use the heavy midrib.) And, of course, when they bloom, the flowers go in my salads too.

    Violet leaves (Viola species)

    The violet leaves are big and glossy now and super rich in vitamins, especially the carotenes which are converted to vitamin A in the body. Violet is considered one of the best sources of vitamin A among the herbs. If you are drying leaves for infusion, now is the time to pick them. Violet leaf infusion used to be one of my mainstays, until the price got too pricey. It is a proven cancer preventative and curative in some cases.


    Yellow dock leaves (Rumex crispus)

    Can you see those little leaves peeking out from the green flowers? They are slightly sour and slightly bitter and altogether delish in salads. Be sure to get the ones from the curly dock (R. crispus); the leaves of the more common broad dock (R. obtusifolia) are way too bitter for my taste buds. Both of them are yellow dock and their roots are used interchangeably.

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