Herbal Medicine Ezine --  Wise Woman Wisdom
July 2005
Volume 5 Number 7
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What's Inside Weed Wanderings this Month...


Wise Woman Wisdom ...
An Herbalist's Notebook
Another Healing Story from an Herbalist's Notebook
by Robin Rose Bennett

Another Healing Story from an Herbalist's Notebook
by Robin Rose Bennett       (Part2)

Author of
Healing Magic: A Green Witch Guidebook to Conscious Living


I never met Maya. I worked with her long distance over the telephone and by e-mail in May and June of 2004. Our first full session was over a speakerphone with my second year apprentices present..

Maya was a 27 year-old American woman with East Indian roots, living far from home in a totally unfamiliar desert environment. She considered herself healthy, biking 100 miles a week, drinking lots of Brita filtered water, and eating a mostly vegetarian diet including daily rice and beans, fresh fruits and vegetables, and some cooked vegetables, with her main cooked green being spinach.

She ate fish about once a month, had almost no dairy in her diet, and also ate some sweets such as cookies, ice cream or chocolate every day. Maya was 5' 2" tall and weighed 130 pounds. She had been on the birth control pill for about eight years and off of it for about five years, and now menstruated every 6-8 weeks.

She was a busy graduate student - a scientist who noted that she tended to carry her physical and emotional stress in her neck, with extremely tight, contracted muscles. She also had a history of nauseating, painful migraine headaches that went on from ages 5-18 and then came back when she was 24. They mostly affected the left side of her head and she thought they might be connected to her neck stress, but that wasn't why she was calling for help.

Pregnant Earth Art by Barbara Getrost She had a stone in her salivary gland and it was blocking the duct. This problem had recurred periodically over the past 5 or 6 years and been diagnosed as a build-up of calcium. The first time she became aware of a strange, unpleasant sensation and swelling in her mouth, she was snacking on a tart apple, a sweet cookie, and drinking tea. Her salivary gland stayed swollen for a couple of hours.

This became a familiar annoyance to her, happening every other month of so. It never seemed serious, even though the stone, which would always build up in the same place, would sometimes last as long as a month before it was (presumably) broken down and re-absorbed into her system.

This time, though, a week and a half before her call, a large stone had formed. She was terribly swollen and in pain, even her tongue hurt. Swallowing was so hard she had had to go off solid food for a while. She was told she needed to have surgery to remove the stone.

She was ready to do that if she had to, but was understandably reluctant to go under the knife. She came from a medical family so surgery seemed "natural" but her sister had recently completed an apprenticeship with me and urged Maya to consider herbal medicine.

Upon questioning, we determined some of the information presented above, as well as the fact that she had no history of any urinary trouble, no kidney pain, no difficulty urinating, no history of bladder or kidney infections, so we ruled out the possible concern that stones were forming in her urinary system, too. We were also concerned about her liver, with her years of hormonal drugs and her migraines, but all aspects of her digestive system seemed to be functioning very well, with no other indications of liver dysfunction, based on her responses to our questions.

We discussed, too, the possibility of any environmental factors that could be exacerbating her condition. There is military- industrial-complex pollution in her area, which tends to be the most toxic pollution on the planet. She was going to need to nourish and strengthen her lymphatic system because no matter what was causing it, there was a build-up of inorganic calcium inside her salivary gland that was blocking the duct, stressing all her systems and causing her great pain and it was her lymphatic system that if properly nourished, would take care of her.

Food is our first foundational medicine. I proposed a naturally vitamin-and-mineral-rich diet, especially in nervous system nourishing calcium because the wisdom of her ancient (and present) cellular consciousness will always choose the most biologically compatible and easy to assimilate form of calcium (or anything else) offered to it.

Pregnant Earth Art by Barbara GetrostIn choosing and making use of this calcium it would then become easier for her body to either release and excrete or break down and re-absorb the unusable build-up of inorganic calcium, the same type that can manifest as kidney stones, plaque on teeth or arteries, or as arthritis.

I suggested eating cooked, dark leafy greens such as kale, collards, and especially, liver-gall bladder-kidney-lymph healing dandelion greens. After cooking the greens in water she was to add olive oil and an herbal apple cider vinegar (dandelion or burdock would be good choices) or balsamic vinegar, to help make the calcium and other minerals more easily available.

She was to avoid the greens high in oxalic acid such as sorrel, chard, spinach, and beet greens, as they can bind calcium, stress the kidneys, and even encourage stone formation in susceptible people. We encouraged her to add organic whole milk yogurt to her diet, both for the calcium and the immune nourishing aspects of yogurt, including healthy fats and digestive flora.

I wanted her herbal recipe to include herbs to dissolve the stone, and also herbs to tone and help the functioning of her kidneys, liver, and especially her lymphatic system. It also seemed important for her to have mineral-rich, herbal nourishment to ease the stress on her nervous system, cooling herbs, anti-infective, and anti-inflammatory herbs, along with herbs to relieve her pain.

Raised as I was in the Wise Woman tradition, I wanted to do this using as few herbs in her recipe as possible, respecting the intricate, chemical complexity of each plant and the great array of medicinal gifts/properties contained in each plant, too. It's always possible to find just a few plant remedies, or even one that, if well chosen, will greatly benefit a person. We hung up with Maya, telling her we would call her back soon. After much good discussion, these were the herbs I decided on and chose for her to use, some internally, some externally.

Maya was to mix together the following tinctures: viola odorata/sweet blue violet leaves, stellaria media/flowering chickweed, and arctium lappa/burdock root, putting 1 dropper full of each one in a cup of boiled water and drinking three cups daily. She was to drink as much red clover blossom infusion as she desired, with a guideline given of 2-4 cups daily. She could take the tinctures in her infusion if she preferred. Red clover seemed perfect for her with its exquisite array of synergistic minerals, profound lymphatic nourishment, its alkaline effect on the blood (that kind of calcium build-up indicates an acidic condition, as in arthritis), hormonal Pregnant Earth Art by Barbara Getrostregulating gifts, and gentle nervous system nourishment.

Sweet blue violet is one of my favorite herbs and it is tried and true for dissolving cysts and tumors and even though I wouldn't normally think of it for kidney or gall bladder stones, for this stone, it seemed right. Violet is a good, under-rated pain reliever.

It has been used for ulcers and other pain in the mouth, including pain of cancer, and its smooth, slippery, lymph tonic properties, combined with its antiseptic and dissolvent abilities and its affinity for both head and heart, made it seem like a match for Maya, who struggled between trusting her mind and heart. Violet brings out the wisdom of the heart.

Chickweed is another one of my favorite dissolvent herbs that excels at drawing out infections with its considerable antibacterial properties. It nourishes the glandular system, as well, and since the stone had built up repeatedly in her salivary gland, that seemed like a good idea. Chickweed's deeply cooling, wet medicine would help the hot inflamed condition of her jaw, as would its alkaline effect. Chickweed increases the permeability of cellular membranes, aiding the increased absorption of nutrients, especially minerals, and the increased ability to remove wastes.

Finally, the burdock root also nourishes the glandular system. It would help the blood, liver, and kidneys, and stimulate the lymph to help break down and move out (or less likely re-absorb) this stone. Burdock works well with red clover. Sometimes I alternate them. Like chickweed, and red clover, burdock is an alterative, helping to alter long-standing conditions with consistent use over time. It is cooling and soothes mucous surfaces, like the tissue inside the mouth.

We asked her to use hot external compresses of apple cider vinegar, with or without violet and chickweed tinctures added onto the washcloth, to help reduce the pain and swelling. If she couldn't manage that, than even hot water compresses would be pain relieving.

I also suggested that she very gently massage her neck and under and all around the jaw with St. J's Wort oil (hypericum perforatum). Another recommendation was to make a spray bottle of lavender essential oil and water, mixed to the strength of fragrance desired, to calm and refresh and cool herself.

Finally, we talked about using a sky-blue color as she visualized her mouth healing. The mouth, being connected to the throat chakra, relates to issues of communication as well as nourishment (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual), and responds well to the color blue.

continued...  (Part2)

Healing Magic A Green Witch Guidebook by Robin Rose BennettHealing Magic:
A Green Witch Guidebook to Conscious Living

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



Traveler's Joy
Author: Juliette de Bairacli Levy. Explore the free wandering life
of this enchant-ing guide by a legendary teacher who lives in tune
with the rhythms of nature. Lots of herbal lore. 256 pages, index, illustrations.

"This magical book has made me want to shelve my responsibilities and hit the road! The author's enthusiasm and ability to embrace hardship and bounty alike are truly inspirational. I am encouraged to lighten my material load to provide space for the gifts that the simple life provides. Recipes, travel lore, herbal medicine, literary references, and personal observations make Traveler's Joy an enjoyable read."



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