Wise Woman Ezine with herbalist Susun Weed
March 2008
Volume 8 Number 3

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What's Inside Wise Woman Herbal Ezine this Month...



Grandmother Speaks...
Vaginal Distress
by Susun Weed

by Susun Weed

"Don’t try to sit on your distress, dearest daughter," cautions Grandmother Growth. "It will prove to be a hot, itchy, prickly, miserable seat, I can promise you.

The Art of Suzanne Gray"When you try to deny what upsets you, when you sugarcoat your rage and drug your anxieties away, when you use your sexuality to please others and never to please yourself, when you are there for everyone but ignore your own needs, when you fear for your existence and the well-being of those you care for, your vagina gets distressed too.

" And it distresses you with discharges and smells, pain and burning, dryness and inflammation. Be gentle with yourself, my darling. Be gentle with your vagina. It is not your enemy. It is your friend, reminding you to honor your womanhood, honor your body, honor your vagina.

"Sit down and eat a bowl of yogurt. Trust your vagina. Listen to it."


Step 0. Do Nothing

Vaginal discharge is normal. The amount and texture of vaginal moisture varies from woman to woman; it changes throughout our lives; and it is different depending on our state of fertility. Normal discharge is whitish or clearish; it contains mucus produced by the cervix, dead cells from the vaginal walls, and secretions from the vagina. It is more slippery, more stretchy, thinner in texture, and more obvious as ovulation approaches. As menstruation nears, and after menopause, it is dry, tackier, darker in color, and less obvious.


Step 1. Collect Information

Curdy, smelly discharges are not normal and are almost always a sign of infection of the vagina, or the cervix, with one or more alkaline-loving organisms, including chlamydia, gardnerella, gonorrhea, herpes, trichomona, yeast.


Step 2. Engage the Energy

Homeopathic remedies for vaginal discharges are not designed to eliminate infection, but to repair the underlying causes, thus lessening the chances of recurrences. Because strong herbs and drugs can interfere with their actions, it is best to take a homeopathic remedy after you treat any infection that is present. The usual dose is 30x, but women who are sensitive may need higher dilutions.

Alumina: for women with a chronic thick clear itchy burning discharge that is worse in the latter half of the menstrual cycle.
Borax: for women with thick, whitish, clear discharges.
Conium: for women whose discharge is accompanied by emotional bruising and numbness.
Graphites: for women with watery itchy burning discharges.
Kreosotum: for women with yellowish, smelly, irritating, stinging discharges; overall weakness.
Merc. sol.: for women with offensive greenish-yellow, thick discharges; accompanied by fever or chills.
Nitric acid: for women with thick, cloudy, itchy, burning discharges; surrounding skin is burning and fissured.
Pulsatilla: for women whose discharge is creamy in texture; worse after menstruation.
Sepia: for women with smelly, yellowish discharges; accompanied by low pelvic pain and exhaustion. Especially for women who have difficulty expressing feelings.
Sulphur: especially for women with chronic, bad-smelling yellow discharges; symptoms worse in the morning.


Step 3. Nourish and Tonify

Safe sex (consistent use of condoms), lesbianism, and celibacy are some of the best preventatives known against exposure to the sexually-transmitted infectious agents that cause vaginal discharges.

But some discharges are caused by inherent, not sexually transmitted, organisms, so lesbians and nuns, like the rest of us, need to keep their immune systems well nourished and their vaginas acidic.

The camel, a yoga pose, helps open the pelvis, encouraging increased circulation to the vagina and normalizing discharges.


Step 4. Stimulate/Sedate

Western herbalists call vaginal discharges leucorrhea ("the whites"). Eastern herbalists call it a "damp disorder." Both agree that astringent herbs - usually in the form of sitz baths or suppositories - are useful as treatment. When effective, they end the discharge within five to ten days. My favorites:

American cranesbill (Geranium maculatum) root, against bloody discharges. Does not get rid of infections.
Avens (Geum urbanum) root and herb, to counter inflammation as well as discharge. Does not get rid of infections.
Bistort (Polygonum bistorta), to dry up discharges, and shrink hemorrhoids. Does not get rid of infections.
Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) root and/or leaf infusion, to strengthen, soothe, and heal all the tissues down there. Does not get rid of infections.
Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) leaf infusion. Does not get rid of infections.
Oak (Quercus species) bark, the supreme astringent. Its antibacterial and antiviral properties make it especially effective for women plagued by chronic infections/discharges.
Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) bark or herb, to deal with itchy discharges. Does not get rid of infections.
White pond lily (Nymphaea odorata) root infusion. Does not get rid of infections.


Step 1. Collect Information

Painful vaginal dryness can be caused by birth control pills, breast-feeding, aging, and lack of mucus-producing cells. The dryness may occur at all times, or only when attempting intercourse.

If you ask a doctor about vaginal dryness and are over the age of 50, s/he will probably diagnosis you as having atrophic vaginitis or lichen sclerosis et atrophicus. These terms are an insult to women; I do not use them.


Step 2. Engage the Energy

Safe vaginas are moist. Frightened, anxious vaginas are dry. Create a safe space for your vagina and yourself. Christiane Northrup MD finds creative visualization extremely helpful for postmenopausal women with dry vaginas.

If you are menopausal or postmenopausal and find intercourse painful, try this: do not allow anything into your vagina until you have had at least one orgasm.


Step 3. Nourish and Tonify

Yes, yogurt! Eat your yogurt to stay moist and sexy, ladies!

Kegel exercises are especially recommended for postmenopausal women with dry vaginas. The increased blood flow helps restore elasticity and thickness to the vagina.

Naturopaths recommend soy instead of estrogen cream to reverse vaginal dryness. However, soy can disrupt thyroid functioning, contribute to Alzheimer’s, lead to osteoporosis, and possibly encourage breast cancer, so I prefer to get my phytoestrogens from red clover infusion and food.

Phytoestrogen-rich foods and herbs, eaten regularly, help prevent and treat vaginal dryness. All roots and seeds, including nuts, all types of beans, and whole grains are good sources of phytoestrogens. Flax seeds are an excellent source; I avoid flax oil.


Step 4. Stimulate/Sedate

Chickweed oil is a highly effective remedy for restoring lubrication and flexibility to vaginal tissues. To make it, soak fresh chickweed in olive oil or coconut oil for 5-6 weeks; apply liberally.

Mallow (Malva species), root or herb, is soaked in cold water overnight (an ounce to a quart), then brought to a boil, covered, and steeped for an hour or more. This brew, warmed and used as a sitz bath or poured into your full bath, lubricates, eases pain, plumps up tissues, and restores circulation to the vaginal tissues.

Oatstraw (Avena sativa) is one of the classic curative baths of Switzerland. Make oatstraw infusion in a large pan by adding four ounces of dried herb to a gallon of boiling water. Remove from heat, cover, and steep for four or more hours. To use: Strain liquid from plant material, heat, reserve one or more cups to drink, add the rest to a hot bath, relax and feel your vagina softening.


Step 5. Use Drugs

Replens™ contains pilocarpine which adheres to the vaginal tissues and artificially thickens them.

Women whose vaginas are extremely dry - I have met some who cannot walk or sleep due to pain from the dryness - usually elect to use 1-2mgs of estrogen cream vaginally. Dr. Christiane Northrup favors estriol, an estrogen that is safe for all women, even those diagnosed with breast, uterine, or ovarian cancer.

Five drops each of chamomile, yarrow and lavender EOs mixed into several ounces of almond oil or olive oil, can be massaged carefully into the vagina and labia to ease and eliminate dryness. All essential oils can disrupt vaginal flora, so discontinue after a few weeks of use.


Step 6. Break and Enter

Super-absorbent tampons dry out vaginal tissues, causing small injuries that makes women more vulnerable to infection from STDs and HIV.


Step 0. Do Nothing

Stop douching. Stop washing, using bubble bath, or using creams with essential oils down there. Stop using spermicidal foam, cream, jelly, and suppositories. Stop using tampons, contraceptive sponges, condoms. Stop wearing underwear, tights and pantyhose. If you can’t stop, choose only cotton, or cut the crotches out.


Step 1. Collect Information

Yeast, trich, and HVP can cause vaginal burning or itching. Itching is also common when vaginal tissues are very dry or have been traumatized, including as an aftermath to surgery and as a side-effect of drugs.

Homeopathic Alumina, Graphites, or Nitric acid help women with itchy, burning vaginas.


Step 3. Nourish and Tonify

If you already eat a quart of yogurt a week, skip this. If not, go right out and buy some plain yogurt. Eat some, with fruit if you want. And put some plain, cool, yogurt down there. Ahhhh.

Aloe vera gel is a soothing remedy for burning vaginal tissues.

The mallow (Malva) family of plants all contain a gelatinous substance used to quell itching. It makes a deeply healing and restorative sitz bath. I especially think of mallow when the vaginal itch is connected to trauma.


Step 4. Stimulate/Sedate

Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana), from any drugstore, soothes and heals. Pour some on a cloth and apply as a compress. For extra relief, refrigerate the witch hazel extract.

Like the mallows, plantains (Plantago) have slippery healing substances, too. I gather the seeds of Plantago majus - the one that grows in lawns - in the late summer, dry them on paper, and soak the seeds in cold water to extract the mucilage, which can be spread over the itchy area, even inside the vagina.



• "Vaginitis," Harvard Medical School Health Letter, March, 1984
• "I was a DES baby," Health, 1999
• "DES may be forgotten, but it’s not gone," Health News, May 2003
• The Complete Guide to Herbal Medicines, Charles Fetrow & Juan Avila, Pocketbooks, 2000
• Homeopathic Medicine for Women, Trevor Smith MD, Healing Arts, 1989
• How to Stay Out of the Gynecologist’s Office, Women to Women Publications, 1986
• Natural Choices for Women’s Health, Dr. Laurie Steelsmith, Three Rivers Press, 2005
• The No Hysterectomy Option, Herbert Goldfarb MD, Wiley, 1990
• The Wisdom of Menopause, Christiane Northrup MD, Bantam, 2001
• Before You Call the Doctor, Anne Simons MD, Bobbie Hasselbring, & Michael Castleman, Fawcett Columbine, 1992

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