Herbal Medicine Ezine --  Wise Woman Wisdom
August 2005
Volume 5 Number 8

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What's Inside Weed Wanderings this Month...


Wise Woman Wisdom ...
An Herbalist's Notebook

by Robin Rose Bennett
author of Healing Magic:
A Green Witch Guidebook to Conscious Living

Another Healing Story from an Herbalist's Notebook Part 2
© Robin Rose Bennett
continued from Part 1

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 jar.

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 St. Joan's Wort - flower magnifiedimmediately, yes?”

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.

echinacea flower and butterflyShe 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 had passed?

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.

burdock leaf and burr 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 of mine.

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 for Maya.

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 stone passed.

© Robin Rose Bennett

Healing Magic:
A Green Witch Guidebook to Conscious Living

by Robin Rose Bennett Healing Magic A Green Witch Guidebook by Robin Rose Bennett

Follow the path to physical and spiritual health with this how-to manual filled with ancient lore and wisdom. Using stories, songs, rituals, recipes, meditations, and trance journeys, it suggests more than 100 ways to practice the art of magical healing. Find out how to reconnect with the earth and draw on its energy, interact with the power of the seven chakras, make use of moon magic and women's wisdom, prepare herbal infusions and baths, work with the medicine wheel, and cast spells for love and wealth. No matter what your beliefs, this guidebook will open your heart and mind to the joys of everyday life.

Price: $14.95 plus shipping

Susun Weed
– Botany & Wildcrafting –Plant reproduction



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