Herbal Adventures with Susun S Weed
Yarrow & Osha
© 2002 Susun S. Weed
read other Herbal Adventures part 1, part 2 , part 3
as seen printed in www.sagewoman.com
For those just joining us, I am traveling through Provence in the Luberon mountains on horseback. My fannypack holds three herbal remedies -- St. Joan's wort oil to prevent sunburn, yarrow tincture to repel insects and heal wounds, and osha tincture in case I am stung or bitten by a venomous creature. The rest of my first-aid kit is in my luggage at an inn ahead of us, where I will have access to it before I go to sleep.
Although my first day's ride left me stunningly sore, simple herbal remedies helped me face a new day in the saddle with cheer and little residue of pain.
As each day passed, I grew stronger in the saddle and felt less pain during my hours astride -- and afterwards as well. If I needed support for my belief that I was being helped by the herbs I was using, especially St. Joan's wort (see last column), I had only to look at and listen to the other riders, who became more and more saddle sore, sunburned, physically uncomfortable and grumpy as the hours and days passed.
One of the things that helped me stay happy was my yarrow tincture. I keep it in a one ounce plastic spray bottle instead of a dropper bottle. This makes it easy for me to carry around and easy to use as a spray on myself (and my horse) to keep biting insects away.
The US Army found tincture of yarrow to be a highly effective insect repellent, and I agree. In their tests, it outperformed DEET in repelling ticks and mosquitoes, but did not remain effective for as long. In places where there are lots of insects, I may reapply it as often as every 20-30 minutes. In Provence, I only needed it once every hour or two. (DEET works for up to 12 hours.)
And, since yarrow stops bleeding, eliminates pain, and promotes healing, I also used it -- to very good effect -- when a hidden broken branch gashed my arm.
Yarrow tincture not only heals wounds, it counters and prevents infection. Yarrow has been shown to be effective in killing all manner of bacteria, including strep and staph. Much better than an antibiotic cream, I believe. I have sprayed yarrow tincture into my throat to short-circuit a sore throat. And I have sprayed it on a tooth that throbbed for instant pain relief. I spray it on my tired feet to sooth, comfort, and refresh them. When sprayed on the face or back, yarrow tincture kills the bacteria that cause acne. (By the way, chocolate does not cause acne. It my even relieve it. And chocolate it is as good for the heart as green tea, so don't be hard on yourself if you indulge now and then.)
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is a common plant throughout the temperate regions of the world. It not only grows wild, but is frequently cultivated for its long-lasting and lovely flowers. The white variety is, to my mind, the best one to make medicine with, especially for internal use. The yellow cultivar is more like tansy than yarrow. The red variety is somewhat in between. There are some wild pink types of yarrow which work much like the wild white ones. I harvest the flowering tops -- which includes flowers, flower buds, seeds, stalk, and leaves from the top one- third of the plant -- and tincture the fresh plant material for at least six weeks in 100 proof vodka.
As a cold preventative -- 10-20 drops taken daily as needed -- yarrow is far more effective, and less problematic than golden seal, echinacea, or vitamin C. It is one of three ingredients in the famous Gypsy Cold Cure Tea. (The other two are red clover and peppermint.) Too much yarrow, especially if taken in the form of a hot tea, can make you sweat and make your menses come on strong, so menopausal women need to use yarrow with caution internally.
My yarrow may be in a spray bottle, but my osha tincture is in a dropper bottle. Because when I need it, I need it fast.
Osha (Ligusticum porterii) is one of the few "exotic" herbs that I keep in my kit. It grows far away from people, high in the Rocky Mountains, where it is known as "singer's root" or "rattlesnake root." Osha root tincture has the amazing ability to stop anaphylactic shock and other nasty reactions to allergens and venoms. Because over-use and over-harvesting endanger this rather rare perennial plant, I use osha in tiny amounts (3-5 drops) and only in emergencies. A half- ounce bottle of osha root tincture ought to last a lifetime. (If you can only buy a whole ounce, share half with a friend.)
Since I was unfamiliar with the venomous critters of Provence (snakes? scorpions? spiders?), I felt more secure riding with my osha "in hand." Although, to tell the truth, I never needed to use it.
I have personally seen a dropperful dose of osha root tincture restore color and breathing to those reacting strongly to allergens in less time than it takes to call an ambulance. One of my students, investigating the silence in her young son's room, found him turning bluer by the second, with a half-chewed nut in his mouth. (Nut allergies can be fatal if not promptly treated.) She grabbed her osha tincture (always keep your medicine kit nearby) and squirted some in his mouth. Before she could dial the second "1" he began to scream, and she hung up, blessing osha for saving her son's life. I was asked to help a blue-lipped, blue-faced woman while someone else called an ambulance. Once again, osha restored her before our hostess had finished dialing.
What else is in Susun's first aid kit?
Her next column will reveal all the contents, and continue with more simple, safe, effective herbal remedies....
Susun Weed recommends Catskill Mountain Herbals, dedicated to crafting the highest quality wildcrafted and organic herbal extracts, vinegars, oils, and salves. Woman owned and operated, White feather’s herbs are harvested in the pristine Catskill Mountains, at the optimum time according to each plant, all herbals are hand prepared in small batches using 100-proof vodka, organic apple cider vinegar, organic cold pressed olive oil, and pure beeswax.
with Susun Weed
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Green Allies explores herbal medicine through direct experiences with plants, plant spirits (fairies, devas), and plant medicines. For those who want to deepen, rather than broaden, their knowledge of plants: a year's worth of investigation and experimentation with one plant ally.
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Green Witch focuses on personal and spiritual development. You'll create rituals, prepare an herbal first-aid kit, encounter your Goddess archetype, discover the magic of your menstrual/menopausal changes, and develop wise woman ways of living and healing.
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Hands On Herbal Medicine 2 DVD set
Hands On Herbal Medicine
First Susun Weed leads her students on a walk around her land at the Wise Woman Center. She teaches about plant and animal cells, nourishing herbal infusions, digestive fire and grounding. Herbs discussed include mitchella, hemlock, sheep sorrel, white pine, nettles, and mushroom turkey tail. In the second part, Susun teaches about preparing herbs for use. The five menstruums she uses are honey, water, vodka, oil, and vinegar. Each one is explained and demonstrated. Herbs discussed include catnip, ginko, shiso, nettle, and wormwood.
Time: Part 1 - 1 hr 22 min Part 2 - 1 hr 28 min.
Produced in 2009 by HerbTV Studio
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