Another Healing Story from an Herbalist's
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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 regulating
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
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.
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