Another Healing Story from an Herbalist's
Notebook Part 2
© Robin Rose Bennett
continued from Part
I got an email from her the next afternoon. She wrote, “I
couldn’t find the violet tincture, only the leaves.
Should I buy the leaves and brew them up like I do the red
clover blossoms or just omit it?” What a great question
to receive! I was excited that she had gone right out to get
her herbs and was thinking for herself. I told her to prepare
the leaves just like the red clover infusion, covering them
with boiling water and steeping them for 4-8 hours in an airtight
Her next challenge was that though she’d found St.
J’s in tinctures and pills, she couldn’t find
any oil and wanted to know either an alternative or where
to get some. I suggested she mail order from one of the herbal
resources listed on my website if she didn’t find it
in another local store. I closed with this statement and question,
“I trust that the pain began diminishing immediately,
She wrote back the next day and told me she found the St.
J’s oil in another local store and happily reported
that it was being sold at half price because it was being
discontinued. A small digression: maybe we herbalists need
to get the word out even more about St.J’s oil, because
it’s hard for me to imagine anyone who’s used
it for pain relief or for preventing or healing (sun)burned
skin, discontinuing it!
Maya wrote: “the pain and swelling have diminished
although the gland is still a bit swollen and hard.”
I thought this was a good report for one day. Then she continued.
She had apparently started taking antibiotics sometime after
our consultation. Here is what she wrote, “I am on antibiotics.
I HATE TAKING ANTIBIOTICS. As a result I have a yeast infection.
Do you think I can discontinue the antibiotic? I understand
the reason for it. It’s preventative.
There are tons of bacteria and stuff in the saliva and if
that’s sitting in a gland not going anywhere because
of a blockage, there’s a huge potential for an infection
to develop, which can cause serious problems, especially if
an abscess ruptures. However, I do not have an infection.
My sister mentioned that some of the herbs I’m taking
might be enough. I would love to stop taking these things.
Do you think it’s okay? Is there anything additionally
I should do if I stop taking them? And are there any herbal
cures for yeast infections?”
I affirmed her instincts to discontinue the antibiotics
because she was giving her body two different messages. The
drugs would take over for her immune system, which is one
thing if it’s truly necessary, but when it isn’t
necessary, it weakens it. The herbs she was using were nourishing
and strengthening to her immune system and the chickweed and
burdock were both excellent anti-bacterial, infection fighters.
I gave her detailed instructions regarding form, menstruum
and dosage for adding in echinacea tincture to her mix, and
told her to do that if she would worry if she didn’t
add something to “make up for” stopping the antibiotics.
hadn’t added yogurt to her diet earlier because she
didn’t have a desire for it after relying on it heavily
back when she couldn’t eat solid foods. She would eat
it now, though, to help heal her system of the (fungal) yeast
infection. Burdock is a good anti-fungal, too. Once she got
off the antibiotics, thereby removing the cause of the yeast
infection, given the herbs she was using and her general vitality,
her body would clearly be able to heal. I suggested adding
lots of cooked and raw garlic to her diet, too, and told her
to call me if she needed me, and to let me know how she did.
She wrote to me a few weeks later for guidance about something
else and told me that the stone had passed a week before.
I wrote back and asked for details, such as how the stone
Maya’s story in her own words:
“I woke up and the little flap of skin under my tongue
felt weird. Kind of hard and it was sort of swollen. It didn’t
hurt or anything, but it fell off. I know this sounds gross,
but I stuck my fingers in my mouth and basically tried to
pop it like a zit. I didn’t squeeze too hard at first,
and a little white/yellow fluid came out. So then I kept on
squeezing and at least one tablespoon of fluid came out, maybe
two, as well as a stone the size of a small pebble.
It looked huge for the size of the hole it came out of, definitely
larger than grains of sand. But it wasn’t the whole
thing, which is why the gland’s still swollen. The stone
was about 1/8” in diameter and crumbled pretty easily
when I squeezed it between my fingers. I meant to save it
to show the doctor, but it got lost in my bathroom somewhere.
So I’m still doing the herbal stuff. The past week or
so I’ve been really good about it, doing the heat, etc.”
The gland stayed mildly achy for a while afterward and she
grew a little less diligent with her herbs.
I see I wrote in my notes: “I think if she hadn’t
squeezed it out, if she’d waited, the stone would’ve
popped out whole in another 2-3 days. She would likely have
been out of pain more quickly, too, though some discomfort
was inevitable.” I still think the stone would have
come out without all that squeezing, but I wonder, now, if
I might not have been overly optimistic about the time frame.
In Hawaiian medicine when they talk about an abscess, which
is what Maya had when she brought her own infection to a head,
there is a reference made to a core within it. I first heard
about this core in relation to the effectiveness of plantain
poultices in pulling them out. I’m an enormous fan of
plantain (plantago major or p. lanceolata), including having
often used it as a mouth-healing herb, in tea, tincture, and
fresh leaf poultice forms.
So, six months later, writing this part of her healing story,
I’m thinking about how simple, chewed-up plantain leaves,
held by her tongue as a poultice over the opening, could also
have helped to pull out the core, or in this case, stone,
or helped complete the healing after the partial stone had
come out. I’ve heard of two personal experiences with
having the core come out, and both happened to dear friends
The first core came out of an extremely tender swelling on
the outer edge of a man’s foot after he wore a plastic-wrapped
poultice every day for three months, taking it off each night.
The next came out from a cyst on a woman’s back. The
cyst kept changing size, up and down, in conjunction with
her menstrual cycle. She’d had it for at least a year.
Constant plantain poultices while on a slow-paced vacation
in Hawaii brought forth the core. Each of these people was
stunned at the cartilaginous piece that had come out of his
or her body.
Plantain shares many gifts in common with violet leaves,
and I do alternate them in my own herbal mouth care. Plantain,
like violet, is a powerful drawing herb and is even more specific
for localizing any poison in the body, not allowing it to
overwhelm the lymphatic immune system. It’s also anti-inflammatory,
mucilaginous, mineral-rich, tonic to the kidneys, cooling,
anti-infective, wound healing and pain relieving, and as such,
would have been one of the other possible excellent choices
Now, there is one other element to this story that I will
mention only briefly. I will not go into detail, but you will
understand immediately how large an emotional subplot this
was in her healing story. It also was deeply influential in
the particular choice of herbs. Three weeks before the stone
blocked up her salivary duct, Maya had unexpectedly become
pregnant. So, throughout this experience, she was trying to
decide whether to have her baby or have an abortion. She finally
decided, with great difficulty, upon an abortion by pill,
and it wasn’t until after that had happened that the
© Robin Rose Bennett
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