Bookmark and Share        

~ Herbal Medicine with Susun Weed ~

December 2001 ~ Volume 1 Number 6

Legal Disclaimer


Hot off the Press!!

NEW Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way,
Alternative Approaches for Women 30-90

Available at:

What's Inside Weed Wanderings this Month...

Feature Article
WHITE PINE (Pinus strobus)

Book Review
Healing Wise

Ask Susun Weed
Echinacea - how to use it!

Recipe of the Month
Ginger Compress

~ New Links ~
Fun and interesting
sites for you to visit!

Extra Feature
The Wise Woman Tradition is a Spiral


WHITE PINE (Pinus strobus)

by Susun S. Weed

The warming air of this verdant May morning touches my senses with pine. In the sweet-scented shade of a towering white pine much like the one I now sit under, the Peaceful Nations buried their weapons. I breathe deeply, asking their ancient wisdom to flow into me with the refreshing pine smell.

The nations of the Adirondacks (a word which means "tree eaters") ate the inner bark of White Pines as one of their primary winter foods.

I slice a strip from the underside of a small limb, thanking the tree for its gifts of nourishment. The antiseptic sensation in my throat as I chew brings to mind "Pine Brothers' Cough Drops." I feel my lungs open, my throat open, my sinuses open, warmed and stimulated by White Pine, lofty yet generous tree.

Europeans didn't eat White Pine (at least, not at first). They cut the straight, tall trees (150 feet was not an uncommon height and there are records of 200 and 250 foot trees) and sent them to the shipyards, where they masted huge sailing ships.

But eat Pine they did. Old records reveal numerous English settlements where virtually all of the colonists died of scurvy (lack of vitamin C) during their first winters in the "New World." Compassionate Native Americans suggested a daily tea of Pine needles, one of Nature's richest sources of vitamin C, and saved the colonists' lives. Pine needle tea has become one of my winter favorites, as well, staving off not only scurvy, But colds, congestion, and the flu.

The sticky sap I pry loose from the pine cone near me was chewed, no doubt, by Indian youth. It contains an (FDA approved) substance nearly 2000 times sweeter than sugar. I savor its surprising intensity, remembering winter sore throats soothed and sore gums strengthened. (Myrrh is a distant relative.) Mixed with grease, the sap is a superb sealant for canoes and water vessels.

As I close my eyes and savor the sweet, pungent taste and smell of Pine, I remember a story I heard from a woman who guides canoe trips. One of the participants ran his aluminum canoe into a rock, splitting the canoe and gashing his thigh deeply from knee to hip. Emergency care was 4-5 days away. They bound his thigh with limber strips of fresh White Pine bark and continued on. "I still marvel," she told me, "at the speed and ease with which That very nasty cut healed."

"Pine Tar Salve" reads the label. Looks black, like my hands when I handle fresh cut pine, or my clothes when I sit on the wrong stump. "Works like heck," says my neighbor. "Put It on dog sores, cat fight wounds, boils, ulcers, blisters. Draws out splinters, stys, and pimples. Soothes burns, hemorrhoids, and itchy bites. Even cures you of poison ivy. Give It a try."

I'll be in good company if I do. The Native people of North American valued no single healing/nourishing plant more highly than Pine. They used not only the sap, But also the boiled mashed inner bark, to heal the inevitable injuries of an outdoor life.

Icelanders of the fifteenth century took the sap mixed with honey to ease lung troubles.
Oriental herbalists use knots from their pines as medicine, especially praising the decoction (with Tang Gui) as a remedy for arthritis.

Is there a Pine growing by you? It's very likely. Take a moment; to the Pine, great tree of peace, tree of healing. Joyously feel the blessing of the trees. Breathe in the calming yet exhilarating scent of Pine. Truly, the trees shall heal us.

Pine is Astringent, Antiseptic, Analgesic, Anodyne, Expectorant.

For permission to reprint this article, contact us at:
This article can also be found online at

top of page



Healing Wise

by Susun Weed
Introduction by Jean Houston.
Paperback - 312 pages (1989)
Available at

Superb herbal in the feminine-intuitive mode. Complete instructions for using common plants for food, beauty, medicine, and longevity.

Read these Excerpts:
Three Traditions of Healing




Author Susun Weed gives an in-depth explanation of three healing traditions (Wise Woman, Scientific and Heroic). The book is replete with whimsical drawings and Weed's sense of humor. She concentrates on seven herbs/wild edible plants with a chapter devoted to each: Burdock, Chickweed, Dandelion, Nettle, Oatstraw, Seaweeds, and Violet.

Culinary and medicinal information and nice recipes and formulas are provided in each chapter. The book is a "fun" and easy read, much of the work is written in a flowing essay style and quite a lot of information is covered. The reader really gets a good flavor and glimpse of each plant character as Weed reveals their personalities. She closes the book with a practical section on herbal processing and preparing details. There is also a "references and resources list," a list of wild foods cook books, and glossary of terms included in the text.


"Healing Wise is filled with the wisdom of our earth mother who is the caretaker of all beings. To everyone concerned with personal and planetary health, this books speaks as a vital messenger and a call to wholeness from the mother earth."
Twylah Nitsche, Yehwehnode Two Wolves
Seneca Elder, Wolf Clan

"One of the most powerful spokespersons of the herbal movement, Susun Weed introduces a marvelous sense of vitality and originality to herbalism. A poet, artist, and visionary, Weed draws us into ancient wisdom in a way that is clear and refreshing. I recommend Healing Wise highly - there is good medicine in these teachings."
Rosemary Gladstar
founder California School of Herbal Studies

"I was taught in the Scientific tradition. I've seen the Heroic tradition replace drugs with vitamins and herbs and intimidate people into 'cures.' But the self-similar conical spiral action of people using their natural genius of transformation and change is what creates negentropy on an individual and cosmic level. I had never seen a book strong enough to explore this dimension of healing until I found Healing Wise. I urge every MD and every "patient" to read it.
Caroline Dean, BSC, MD

"The latest Wise Woman Herbal, Healing Wise, gives more than it promises. I experienced an invisible cellular knowingness as I read Susun's words, resonating within the contextual matrix of my being: soft and flexible, resilient and persistent, vulnerable and risky, intense and impeccable."
Mary Ann Copson, traditional midwife

"Weed's Healing Wise is an intelligent exposition of the feminine-intuitive mode of healing. Especially important is her clear discernment of the difference between the gentle Wise Woman way and other so-called "alternative" healing paths with their dualisms and dogma. I wish every healer in the "new age" could incorporate this approach in her/his work!"
Vicki Noble, co-creator Motherpeace Tarot

Three Traditions of Healing
Excerpt from Healing Wise

There is more than choice between modern Western medicine and alternatives. There are three traditions of healing.

The Wise Woman tradition, focusing on integration and nourishment, and insisting on attention to uniqueness and holographic interconnectedness, is another choice: a new way that is also the most ancient healing way known. A way that follows a spiral path, a give-away dance of nourishment, change and self love. "Trust yourself."

Alternative health care practitioners usually think in the Heroic tradition: the way of the savior, a circular path of rules, punishment, and purification. "Trust me."

AMA-approved, legal, covered-by-insurance health care practitioners are trained to think in the Scientific tradition: walking the knife edge of keen intellect, the straight line of analytical thought, measuring and repeating. Excellent for fixing broken things. "Trust my machine."

The Scientific, Heroic, and Wise Woman traditions are ways of thinking, not ways of acting. Any practice, any technique, any substance can be used by a practitioner/helper in any of the three traditions. There are, for instance, herbalists, and midwives, and MDs in each tradition.

The practitioner and the practice are different. The same techniques, the same herbs are seen and used differently by a person thinking in Scientific, Heroic, or Wise Woman ways.

Thinking these ways does lead to a preference for certain cures. The Wise Woman helper frequently nourishes with herbs and words. The Heroic savior lays down the law to clean up your act fast. The Scientific technician is most at ease with laboratory tests and repeatable, predictable, reliable drugs. But still, the practices do not conclusively identify the practitioner as being in a particular tradition.

The intent, the thought behind the technique points to the tradition: scientific fixing, heroic elimination, or wise womanly digestion and integration.

You contain some aspects of each tradition. And the three traditions are not limited to the realm of healing. The Scientific, Heroic, and Wise Woman ways of thinking are found in politics, legal systems, religions, psychologies, teaching styles, economics. As the Wise Woman way becomes more clearly identified, it opens the way to an integrated, whole, sacred, peaceful global village, interactive with Gaia, mother, earth. As each discipline spins anew its wise woman thread, we reweave the web of interconnectedness with all beings.

Illustration from Healing Wise
by Durga Bernhard

From Readers:

I really enjoyed Healing Wise. Susan Weed's approach to herbal medicine is refreshing in its simplicity and truly holistic approach.

This wonderful book introduced me to specific plants that up to now I had considered weeds. The way in which the love and respect for these plants is given by Susun Weed makes the reader regard them in a positive light. The comparisons between the different types of healing methods are informative. Also ,as a woman , I found the presentation of the Wise Woman's Way touching a basic belief in myself . I would , and have , referred other women to this book and It holds a very treasured spot in my personal collection.

Written simply and effectively, Healing Wise is one of the very best herbal texts I have come across. Weed's emphasis on a small number of herbs having the ability to do a great many things is important--it is a "back to basics" approach, one that I feel is essential in this day of "more, better, best". Though I utilize many other herbals, Healing Wise is the book I usually grab first. Thank you Ms. Weed for opening my eyes (and heart) a little wider to the world around me, I am grateful.

Order from

wise woman bookshop

Wise Woman Herbal Series
Get all four of Susun S. Weed's best-selling herbal medicine books together and save 20%. The Wise Woman Herbal Series includes:
~ New Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way (for Women 30-90)
~ Breast Cancer? Breast Health! The Wise Woman Way
~ Healing Wise
~ Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year ( in its 29th printing)
The total value of this offer is $59.80, Yours for $48.00 plus shipping.
Yes! I want to order the Wise Woman Herbal Series (click here).



top of page

Extra Feature...

by Susun S Weed

The symbol of the Wise Woman tradition is a spiral.
A spiral is a cycle as It moves through time.
A spiral is movement around and beyond a circle, always returning to itself,
But never at exactly the same place. Spirals never repeat themselves.

The symbol of the Wise Woman tradition is the spiral.
The spiral is the bubbling cauldron.
The spiral is the curl of the wave.
The spiral is the lift of the wind.
The spiral is the whirlpool of water.
The spiral is the umbilical cord.
The spiral is the great serpent.
The spiral is the path of the earth.
The spiral is the twist of the helix.
The spiral is the spin of our galaxy. The spiral is the soft guts.
The spiral is the labyrinth.
The spiral is the womb-moon-tide mobius pull.
The spiral is your individual life.
The spiral is the passage between worlds: birth passing into death passing into birth.
The path of enlightenment is the spiral dance of bliss.

The symbol of the Wise Woman Tradition is a spiral.
Twelve is the number of established order.
One step beyond is thirteen, the wild card, the indivisible prime, the number of change.
Walk a spiral, you will inevitably come to the unique next step, the unknown, the thirteenth step, the opportunity for change, the window of transformation.
The thirteenth step creates the spiral.

~RECIPE of the MONTH ~

Ginger Compress

Easy, effective, inexpensive, pain-relieving, and anti-inflammatory

Ginger compresses are successfully used by many healers and women to reduce and eliminate breast lumps. Women who've dealt with many kinds of breast lumps tell me That ginger compresses reduced benign masses quickly But sometimes irritated cancerous ones. (It doesn't mean you have cancer if your skin gets irritated).

Grate 5 ounces/140 grams of fresh ginger root onto a clean piece of cloth. (I use an old cloth napkin, a handkerchief, a kitchen towel, or a clean diaper.) Gather the ends of the cloth together and secure them with a piece of string or a rubber band. Put the bundle into a pan with 2 quarts/2 litres water and heat to 158F/70C. Boiling will destroy much of the value of the ginger, So if you don't have a thermometer, heat only until you see bubbles forming on the bottom of the pan. Keep a low flame under the pot until the water turns a pale yellow, 5-15 minutes. Pull the bundle out of the water, and squeeze or press It to extract all its liquid. (Add to pan.)

Soak a small towel in the hot ginger liquid. Wring It out. (This is hard to do; your hands will get red and hot.) When you apply the hot wet towel, the breast skin will redden and there will be an intense sensation of heat, But you shouldn't be in pain. Cover the compress with layers of towels to retain the heat. When It cools, remove It, soak It again in the hot ginger water, and reapply. Continue until the skin gets very red and warm. Repeat morning and night. If there is no active infection, the towel and ginger water can be used over and over again. If fresh ginger is not available, dried ginger may be used, But It will not be as effective. Fresh turmeric may be substituted for fresh ginger, But It stains everything.

This recipe is from Susun Weed's Breast Cancer? Breast Health!

NEW LINKS to check out...

Motherlove herbal company For over a decade the trusted leaders in sustainably wildcrafted and certified organic herbal products for pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding. Salves and oils prevent stretch marks; More Milk, More Milk Plus and Fenugreek tinctures increase breast milk; Nipple Cream, Rhoid Balm, and Sitz Bath soothe. Sold nationwide in natural food and maternity stores, as well as through lactation consultants. Visit our educational website or call (888) 209-8321 for a free brochure.

In Full Bloom - Pregnancy and Birth Services - Doulas provide professional one-on-one, continuous support for birthing mothers and their partners....a role no one else in the birthing community fills. Erica L. Kroll serves Columbia Missouri/Central Missouri Region. Her beautiful and informative Website includes: resources, FAQ's, Books and more.

In Soul Guidance esoteric artists Carol Herzer and Dirk Gillabel feature topics for your soul growth: their own original tarot decks, colorful chakra cards, a gallery of visionary paintings, many interesting spiritual articles, including singing bowls and shamanic practices, astrological chart paintings, and unique handmade clothing to decorate your temple.

Painting from the Source® is about painting purely for the joy of exploration and expression. As you face the empty paper and the rich vibrant colors, your brush chooses a color and begins to move on your paper - the process deepens, some hesitation and emotions may surface. With Aviva's expert midwifery and the group's support, surprisingly touching and satisfying images emerge. You begin painting not from the intellect, But from the ever-present bottomless creative well of personal and universal images.

Mandala by Clair Goodwin

Wisdom Magazine - Wisdom of the Heavens, Earth, Body, Mind and Soul - Exploring all facets of the New Age experience from A to Z: Astrology, acupuncture, acupressure, auras, bodywork, chi, counseling, enlightenment, esoteric, holistic, health, intuition, horoscope, karma, metaphysical, magic, massage, occult, pagan, psychology, reiki, reincarnation, religion, shamanism, spirituality, tarot, transcendentalism, wicca, wisdom, yoga, zen

Know of a good site to recommend?

top of page


Avoid Echinacea on a daily basis
The "disease" Candida is a myth
Rosecea - use burdock, yarrow, or aloe vera gel
Infusions or tinctures? There are differences..
Increase your bone mass naturally - not with Fosomax
Wise Woman Ways for You - nourishing our own unique wholeness
Wild Yam Cream does nothing - don't buy the hype
Ten tips for women with PMS - and why to avoid supplements
Does wild yam tincture work? It depends on your body...
Avoid using sheep sorrel while nursing - it's dangerous!
The path to success is strewn with failure

If you have a personal health question for Susun, she has a free hotline every Tuesday evening (from Mid-April to the end of October) from 7:30 to 9:30 EST - Call: 845-246-8081. NOTE: It is helpful if you have read Susun's article and books before calling her, as you will find answers to your preliminary question there and so Susun will be able to help you with more indepth questions you may have.

Legal Disclaimer: This content is not intended to replace conventional western medical treatment. Any suggestions made and all herbs listed are not intended to diagnose, treat,cure or prevent Any disease, condition or symptom. Personal directions and use should be provided by clinical herbalist or other qualified healthcare practitioner with a specific formula for you. All material on this website/Email is provided for general information purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or consultation. Always check with your personal physician when you have a question pertaining to your health and healthcare.

Sent: Monday, November 05, 2001
Subject: Question about echinacea

Dear Susun,
I was just forwarded your article about herbal remedies for anthrax: Strengthen Your Immune System. In it you said, "Capsules and pills of echinacea, if used for lengthy periods, may be counterproductive." My friend takes echinacea pills every morning, does this mean that they aren't doing anything for him? Also, with winter coming on I was considering getting an Echinacea tea to drink in the mornings before I started my day. DO you know how effective a tea would be, and if it is effective should I not drink it daily? Thank you for your time and for writing the article.

Sent: Friday, November 16, 2001
Subject: Avoid Echinacea on a daily basis

Susun's Response:
Taking echinacea capsules or teas can actually lead to disruption of the immune system. Last years two people died after taking echinacea daily for long periods in these forms. Think of this herb as you would an antibiotic. Would you take an antibiotic daily? Of course not! Echinacea cannot prevent infection, and numerous studies have shown that it is a total failure in preventing colds and the flu.

I use echinacea as a tincture and only when I need it. If you want to strengthen your immune system, there are lots of ways to do that (in the article you refer to), but capsules of echinacea are not a good idea. Take 5-10 drops of yarrow tincture on a daily basis or include more seaweed and garlic in your diet or use a daily dose of astragalus, but lay off the echinacea, OK? :)

Green Blessings,
Susun Weed

Sent: Thursday, November 1, 2001
Subject: I think I have Candida?

Hi Susan. I am pretty convinced That I have candida. But I'm not sure. It started after a few months of excessive beer drinking. I would break out into hives on my legs and I had 2 yeast infections and bladder infections that I would take antibiotics for, which I feel may have intensified the candida. That was several months ago, now I've cut basically every thing out of my diet including: sugar, alcohol, wheat, starches, all fermented foods and dairy. I still have pain in my bladder and urethra when I consume alcohol and if I consume a lot I have intense pain. I also still have pain in those areas often anyway when I'm strictly on this diet. That is my only symptom left of the candida apart from chronic fatigue and anxiety. So I wonder if It is candida That I have or possibly something else. I've recently given a urine sample at my doctor and I don't have a urinary tract infection although It still felt pain as if I did. I'm very confused and have started taking Supremeflora a week ago. I am 22 years old and this is driving me crazy. I've fallen into a depression and am very sad. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Sent: Monday, November 5, 2001
Subject: Bladder infection, or Interstitial cystitis BUT not "candida"

Susun's Response:
Every healthy human has candida in their gut. It is one of the most important organisms of the 400 molds, yeasts, bacteria, and fungi that colonize our intestines. Without these microbial helpers we would be unable to digest Any food at all. The problem is not having candida, But not having the other helpers, thus causing the candida to grow. Your diet needs to include high concentrations of fermented foods -- yogurt, miso, sourdough bread, home brewed wine and beer, sauerkraut, and cheeses like camembert and brie -- not to be devoid of them. I would guess that you have a sub clinical bladder infection. Have you been drinking (non-sweetened) cranberry juice? Have you tried a course of uva ursi, an excellent bladder disinfectant? There other possibility is that you have interstitial cystitis (tiny ulcers in the lining of the bladder). Recommendations for women with IC are in my book New Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way.

Green Blessings,
Susun Weed

Sent: Wednesday, October 31, 2001
thank you very much Susun. I appreciate your responding to me. After much study on the Internet and in health books, I came to the conclusion that I most likely have interstitial cystitis as well. I had told my doctor at the beginning that I thought I had interstitial cystitis and she immediately said no without explanation as to why she thought that, and now a week ago after she's eliminated all other options she tells me that I might have that, with no recollection of my previous self diagnosis. Any how, I'm sure that you already know that typical doctors seem to be that way. Thank you again Susun, take care.

Sent: Wednesday, November 7, 2001
Subject: Rosacea

I have recently been diagnosed with Rosacea and have been give a topical antibiotic gel for treatment. I don't like man-made chemical preparations......any advice? I have heard something about "mahonia aquifolium" . Do you know anything about it? They mentioned it in treating psoriasis, but not rosacea.

Sent: Monday, November 12, 2001
Subject: Rosecea - use burdock, yarrow, or aloe vera gel

Susun's response: Aqui means water, Folium means leaf, mahonia is a plant. I have never used it. I know several women who have used burdock successfully; tincture of the root or seeds. A dropperfull or more every day is the dose. You may need to take it for months maybe even years. Meanwhile, you could try one of these on the on your face: yarrow tincture, yarrow face wash (see November newsletter), or aloe vera gel. Let us know what works.

Green Blessings,
Susun Weed

Sent: Thursday, November 01, 2001
Subject: Infusions or tinctures?

Hi, Susun thanks for the information on anthrax. I have a couple of questions I have all of your books. Great info! Since I cant find the herbs locally. Are dandelion and chickweed tincture just as good as the infusion. My health food store sells the ones by herbpharm. Are the tinctures more effective if you place in a tea or use under the tongue? Or are the infusions better to take? Also, do you have any specific herbs for men as you do for women.

Sent: Monday, November 05, 2001
Subject: The differences between Infusions and Tinctures

Susun's response:
Infusions extract minerals and vitamins; tinctures do not. Tinctures extract the powerful, potentially poisonous, active ingredients in plants; depending on the plant, infusions may or may not do this. Herbpharm tinctures are excellent. I usually take tinctures in a small amount of liquid. The effectiveness is unaffected by how you take it, so far as I know, but tinctures may be better absorbed if they are not put directly into the mouth.

I am not sure what you mean by a specific herb for men. There aren't really specific herbs for women. Red clover and raspberry leaf tonifying the sexual organs of men and women; ginseng and saw palmetto affect women as well as men. I mostly use nourishing herbs that are fine for both men and women.

Green Blessings,
Susun Weed

Sent: Monday, November 12, 2001
Subject: How do I get off Fosomax?

What do I need to do to receive your newsletter? You are a delightful teacher!! Another teacher of mine, Mary Rose told me about you.

Also, I would like to get off of fosomax. I am taking it because my bones "release too much calcium". Any suggestions for how I can correct whatever I am missing in my diet to make it OK for me to stop taking the fosomax?

Sent: Monday, November 12, 2001
Subject: Increase your bone mass naturally - not with Fosomax

Susun's response:
The best things I know of for increasing bone mass are (1) yogurt, at least half a cup a day; (2) nourishing herbal infusions of nettle, oatstraw, comfrey leaf, or red clover, at least two cups a day. (I rotate the herbs so I have each one about two times a week.) (3) Elimination of coffee, white sugar, and white flour from your diet (little bits won't hurt, but not daily use). (4) Increase in the amount of fat in the diet (needed for the processing of minerals).

I have seen women increase their bone mass by 6 points in 6 months by using these three tips.

But I am not so sure that you really have a problem. Bone mass does not correlate with bone breakage!! Bone flexibility is what we want because that is what prevents breaks. Fosomax makes the bones more massive, but more brittle. Yoga, tai chi, and other stretching forms of exercise help women be more flexible. Are you doing this weekly?

Massive bones are not necessarily an indicator of health. Women with high bone mass are four times more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer! Women who take calcium supplements are twice as likely to break a bone as women who don't. Perhaps you are listening to your doctor and doing what your doctor wants but maybe this is not so good for you.

I know this is a lot to think about. You could read my article on Building Better Bones or read lots more about healthy bones in New Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way

Green Blessings,
Susun Weed

To: Susun Weed
Sent: Tuesday, November 20, 2001
Subject: Re:no more fosomax

Thank you so very much, Susan!!! Many blessings to you!!!

I am spreading the word.

Sent: Friday, November 09, 2001
Subject: abuse, depression, bingeing, recovery?

Hello. I am a survivor of various forms of abuse and am working on healing myself. I have noted in myself and others that a history of abuse seems to bring on a whole host of chronic problems. . .depression, night terrors, dissociation, bladder infections, fatigue, sugar binges, and insomnia are some of the things I have been trying to overcome, with only small success(heh, if you want to call it that).

I have read through Childbearing Year the Wise Woman Way, and a little through you book on menopause, both of which have been very very helpful. I am 27, though, so neither menopausal nor ready to have children. Although I see many specific remedies for specific ills, I am wondering if you might elaborate on the wholistic, entireistical way. . .that the wise woman tradition deals with trauma and recovery. The"scientific tradition" method, of course, thinks women who have been victimized ought to pump themselves full of prozac (which I did formerly and surprisingly enough it helped for a little while), and also talk therapy, which I have done and has been VERY helpful(because I lucked out with a good therapist). but surely, although I know there are no easy answers, this tradition must have a take on this.. .My history is pretty extreme, but I have faith in my ability, in time, to live as a whole/holy/healed human woman. I dearly want to empower myself to grow past these bad memories of mine, and thus, perhaps, I hope, to heal myself of the other ills which trouble me. I would be most grateful to know your thoughts.

Subject: Wise Woman Ways for You

Susun's response:
The Wise Woman tradition is focused on nourishing our unique wholeness. Nourishment has three major components: simple ceremony, compassionate listening, and whole foods.

Sounds like your therapist is providing compassionate listening.

What simple ceremonies do you have for helping yourself when you are depressed? (smile!) when in fear? (use that energy to whistle a happy tune) Reaching for the sugar? (organic chocolate is divine and so good for you). Last year at my intensive Priestess of Her Own Pleasure, we had a student who survived horrible tortures as a child. The ceremonies we did have thus far helped her to eliminate most of the self-tortures she was inflicting on herself.

Whole foods means whole grains, seaweed in your diet, and daily use of nourishing herbal infusions, for starters. Instructions for making infusions are in both the books you have; there are some seaweed recipes in the menopause book. (And a big section on remedies for women with depression is there too.) Drinking nourishing infusions is one of the most important steps to whole health that I know of.

Green Blessings,
Susun Weed

Sent: Thursday, November 08, 2001
Subject: I want to avoid a preterm birth...

Hello Susun,
I have two children and they both were born early(35 and 33 weeks gestation). I took incredibly good care of myself and my diet was excellent. I had very good midwifery care with both and I drank plenty of red rasp. tea. I had no health problems and both my babies were born very healthy and fully developed just early. In both cases there was no known cause for their early arrival. With my first my membranes ruptured and my second they leaked. We are thinking about having another child but I would like to know if there are herbs I can take throughout pregnancy to hopefully avoid a preterm birth. My first was 35 weeks and my second 33 weeks and I am afraid that there if a pattern here and my next might be 31 weeks gestation(I have met women who have had babies 2 weeks earlier each time) One midwife suggested that my progesterone levels may have been too low and that applying wild yam cream on my forearm from 5 months on would help. I would appreciate any help you could offer me.
Thank you Susun.

Sent: Monday, November 19, 2001
Subject: Wild Yam Cream Does Nothing

Susun's response:
It sounds as though your babies coming early was not a problem for you or for them. Am I missing something? I have not heard that women in your situation give birth earlier each time. As a matter of fact, a friend pregnant for the third time, who had given birth "early" before was two weeks "late" this time. Women are variable, much more so than medical science is comfortable with.

Anything is possible when it comes to hormones, but usually progesterone deficiency causes miscarriage. And since wild yam does not contain progesterone, taking it would not necessarily increase progesterone, although it could. There is nothing in wild yam that can go through the skin and produce hormones in your body. I believe that rubbing wild yam cream on your arm is a waste of money and time. (More info about the uselessness of wild yam cream in my book New Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way,
available at:

Butter has far more hormonal precursors than wild yam and could possibly be absorbed through the skin. Fat from around the ovaries of an animal would be the logical application if you want to go that way, but again, I do not think it would be beneficial.

From what you say, I don't see a problem. Take good care of yourself, as you are. When you start to worry about this problem, instead focus on the health of your babies and put your trust in the Goddess or the Universe or even God, if you trust him, that is. I use an image of protection that I put around things that worry me. This helps me focus my energies on better outcomes and bypass my disaster brain. Hope this helps.

Green Blessings,
Susun Weed

Sent: Monday, November 05, 2001
Subject: I need help for my PMS

Greetings! In your recent newsletter about avoiding infection by anthrax (which I found very interesting and useful!) you mentioned that vitamin/mineral supplements are stressful to the body. Could you please explain more about this, perhaps in a future newsletter?

I'm really interested, and a bit concerned about this, because I used to avoid supplements, thinking I could get enough nutrients from what I ate (mostly whole foods and herbs). But then I moved to a megalopolis (Tokyo), which is a very polluted and rather stressful place to live. After I started getting terrible PMS (I've had bad menstrual pain since my teens), I thought, due to the stress and much higher levels of pollutants around me maybe vitamin, mineral, and other supplements were one way to combat this very unnatural lifestyle--maybe foods and herbs alone just weren't enough for this new and unnatural environment. Now I'm confused to hear that I've been wrong these past few years.

I've also been taking kanpo (Japanese version of Chinese herbs) which is VERY VERY slowly working on my menstrual cycle, and my diet is mostly pretty healthy. What to do, short of quitting my job and moving to the countryside (and appealing notion, but not so practical at this point in my life)? Should I really drop the vitamin B megadoses and the premenstrual calcium/magnesium?

Sent: Friday, November 16, 2001
Subject: Re: vitamins and minerals for you

Susun's response:
Yes, there will be more information on the problems with supplements in my forthcoming book: Healing Well, due out late 2002 or early 2003. If we could put vitamins and minerals into pills there would be no problem, but we can't . What we get from pills is partial synthetic replicas of what we need, this further stress us, rather than helping us.

The best way is improve your vitamin/mineral uptake is to use nourishing herbal infusions. (Directions for making them are in all my books.) A quart of nettle infusion contains 2000mg of calcium for instance!! No supplement can come close to that. (But a cup of nettle tea has little minerals, the tincture even less, and capsules almost none.) The secret is using a full ounce of dried herb and brewing it for at least four hours. My favorite infusions are nettle, comfrey leaf, oatstraw, and red clover. They are all very rich in vitamins and minerals.

Vitamins are enzymes produced by living tissues. We produce most of our own vitamins: when we eat carotenes, we make vitamin A. When we eat whole grains, we make B vitamins. In the sun we make vitamin D. We must ingest vitamin C, but we need so little of it that that is very easy. And we get vitamin E from seeds and oils in our diet. It is in fact very rare for a person to be deficient in vitamins if they are eating a whole food diet. (Yes, I know it is almost impossible to get brown rice in Japan, but keep looking, and eat those aduki beans and use lavish amounts of miso.)

There is no scientific evidence that stress or pollution uses up vitamins despite the manufacturers claims to the contrary. Eat 5-7 servings of cooked fruits and vegetables daily and you will be fine on vitamins.

Do you have a copy of my book NEW Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way? It has an appendix listing the best sources (food and herbal) of all needed nutrients. Good luck, and yes, I would dump the pills. (Calcium supplements can lead to kidney stones and other problems.) Also, read my article online Ten Tips for Women with PMS.

Green Blessings,
Susun Weed

Sent: Monday, November 19, 2001
Subject: vitamins and minerals for you

Thank you so much for your personal reply to my question! It was very helpful and thought-provoking. There's so much information out there, coming from so many different mind-sets--even among approaches to herbalism (I'm thinking here of your book Wise Woman Herbal Healing Wise, which I first read many years ago but still springs to my mind, with its vivid illustrations of the "heroic" approach to herbalism, for example).

Interestingly enough, you recommended that I toss the calcium supplements--which I just did, simply because they gave me such a terrible stomachache every time I took them!

I'm looking forward to seeing your new book, Healing Well. And I think I'll pick up a copy of your book on menopause for my mom (and sneak a peek at the appendix myself!).

One last question: right now I'm doing an herbal correspondence course through Michael Tierra's Planetary Herbology center. They seem to have lots of seminars and opportunities for hands-on experience, but (partly due to the limitations of their approach--such as suggested by your book, and by a book I have by Billie Potts called Witches Heal), I am really interested in doing work with other people/courses. If you know of any short-term courses I could attend, could you recommend them to me? Even if I can't come now, I'd like to know just for future reference, and for on-going study! I'm especially interested in experiencing and working with people (I can read books anytime and anywhere, but applying what I've read is a different matter!)

Thank you again for all your work! I admire your dedication.

Sent: Friday, November 02, 2001 4:38 PM
Subject: Wild yam, fertility

Hi, I was just reading your article at Demetria's "Green Tit", and I had a question about something you wrote:

"Interestingly enough, if wild yam is taken is small doses (a cup of tea or 10-20 drops of the tincture daily from onset of menses until mid-period) it increases fertility! In either case, the effect seems to be triggered by the large amount of hormone-like substances found in this root. When taken daily, these substances may be converted into progesterone, thus decreasing the possibility of conception."

It was my understanding that this was a common misconception about dioscorea, but that it actually does not affect the hormones in any way in its natural state. My understanding was that there are components in dioscorea (such as diosgenin) that can be made into synthetic progesterone, but that this conversion process does not naturally happen in the body, it must be done in a lab. For that reason, taking wild yam in hopes to alter or affect hormone levels is useless.

Your thoughts would be appreciated.

Sent: Monday, November 12, 2001
Subject: Wild yam, fertility

Susun's response:
Thanks for your note. The field of plants and hormones is expanding by leaps and bounds, but we are still far from understanding what happens in the body when we eat certain plants. Of course, I mostly speak from experience, not only mine, but those of thousands of women over thousands of years.

Many plants, especially large starchy roots, contain phytoestrogen and phytosterols. These substances are most definitely converted into hormones in the human body and numerous studies attest to it. They must, however, be fermented out of the plants by gut action and some people have too little gut flora to manage the job. There is no progesterone, or any other hormone, in wild yam, but your body can make hormones out of it if it is taken internally. Which hormones is up to your body, so I may be wrong when I say progesterone will be the result. But there will be a strong effect on hormones. Check out my book New Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way for an article I did debunking wild yam creams. I certainly agree with you completely as far as external use is concerned.

Green Blessings,
Susun Weed


Sent: Sunday, November 04, 2001
Subject: Herbs and Nursing

My Dr. recently found a Lump in my breast. She wanted to wait until after my period to check and see if it had changed or gone away. I am not one to Sit around and wait for a "Dr. " to tell me the next step. I immediately bought your Breast Cancer? Breast Health! Book. I think it is wonderful and have added a few things to my diet that weren't already there. I eat a good Nutritious and healthy diet as well as use herbs. Although I have Herbalism during the Child Bearing Years I recently moved and can't put my hand on it. I know it would answer many of the questions I have and just can't remember. I was wandering about sheep sorrel and nursing is it safe? I am not quite ready to wean my 22 month old but know it may be something that could be a possibility. Could you give me your opinion on this situation? I Love your books and enjoyed your talk at the Wildgathering in MAINE last summer. Thank You

Sent: Friday, November 16, 2001
Subject: Sheep sorrel and Nursing


Susun's response:
Sheep sorrel? You aren't using Essiac are you? Please don't! I though I made a pretty good case against it in my book. David Hoffman, director of the California School of Herbal Studies says the oxalic acid in sheep sorrel can accumulate in your kidneys and cause damage. I would not recommend that anyone take sheep sorrel as a tea, nor would I consider it safe for a nursing women to ingest. If you want to eat some in your salad that would not be a problem. Remember, Nurse Cassie injected Essiac, she did not give it orally!!!

Green Blessings,
Susun Weed


To: Susun Weed
Sent: Sunday, November 18, 2001
Subject: Sheep sorrel and Nursing

Thank you for responding. I am not taking the tea and did have my doubts about it . I did go to the general surgeon and She said the lump was nothing to worry about and it did not feel suspicious. She said keep checking and she felt like I would know if there was something there I needed to be concerned with and to have it checked again in three months to be safe. I am however still going to keep to the Breast Health diet, teas and tinctures. Thank you again.

Sent: Saturday, November 10, 2001
Subject: Floating

Greetings! I'm writing to tell you how much I appreciate you and your work. I had been wanting to understand herbs for many years and your books were the first ones that made sense to me... when I discovered Healing Wise several years ago it was like having a veil lifted! I started going on herb walks, meeting and loving plants, bringing home delicious nourishment... and starting to feel empowered, as if healing was something I could discover within myself and in the world, by paying attention (speaking of paying attention, picking nettles barehanded is delightful and certainly impresses your friends and neighbors). I cannot begin to tell you how much the information you provided has affected me. So many wonderful, magical experiences have resulted from walking these paths. Someday soon I'd love to share with you how much I've learned.

I guess what I really want to ask you about is empowerment, making things happen. I read your bio and I was so moved by how much you have accomplished, by how you have created a life, a work, a world -- unique and powerful -- something done without "credentials", something not previously modeled in the modern world. I guess this is where I feel stuck. I know that I am powerful, intelligent, compassionate, artistic, intuitive, that I can teach and heal, love and dance, I have cultivated awareness of nature, surrender to ecstasy, sharpened my intellectual skills, strengthened my muscles, learned to laugh and cry... the weird thing is that deep down I still don't really believe in myself, this feeling of empowerment is so new to me and my feelings of being a "bad girl" are so ingrained... I feel that I could enter the world as you have and help to create the new paradigm, in fact, I know that it is so necessary for all of who see this need to stand up and make it happen, but I don't really do it. I feel alone with it, I talk to my friends about it and they are friendly and try to be supportive, but not really there for it. I live on a houseboat anchored offshore Coconut Grove in Biscayne Bay, which is a lifestyle which contributes to helping me to feel more powerful, but often I feel a lack of kindred spirits... oh, that's bullshit maybe... I'm not finding companions because I'm not speaking up about who I am and what I want to do...

So... I'm not sure yet, I feel you out there, I don't feel the need to come do an apprenticeship, I just want to know if you have any advice about starting things: finding kindred spirits, creating community, becoming brave enough to become myself, instead of sitting on the boat daydreaming. I have a vision actually of creating a floating, sailing center for healing and wisdom and I want to get started, I don't want to be alone in it, and I want to strengthen my belief in my ability to make it happen!

I have also been pretty self-destructive for a long time, because for so long I didn't understand that who I am is someone who is fantastic. So I often stop myself from acting because, you know, "I'm probably not good enough", "if people find out who I really am, they'll hate me", "I don't have what it takes" etc. etc. ad nauseam. Enough! What does such self-doubt have to do with nurturing my wholeness and helping others? Why is it that if I know that I have something to offer, that I am going to allow such thoughts and feelings to allow me to hold back? Am I still trying to get back at everybody for the pain I believe they've caused me? Is it really another version of the blame game? How can I get past all of this and allow myself to give and receive?

I have seen enough by now to know that it isn't friendly, loving, or healing to be insecure. That as long as I feel unworthy and unlovable that I won't treat others very well either. So I know that I have to get beyond this if I'm going to do any really good.

Wow! I think these months of working with Vitex are starting to work!

Thank you for reading this, Susun. If this sounds pretty self-indulgent, I'm sorry. I really really really want to be part of bringing awareness of love healing wholeness back to the world. I know I have to start with myself. Many blessings to you and your tribe.

Date: Monday, November 12, 2001
Subject: The path to success is strewn with failure

Susun's Response:
My dear, your letter is worthy of a month long answer, actually a three month long answer and that may not even be enough. Of course you need to come and do an apprenticeship (at least three months) as this is exactly the work that you would do as an apprentice: build self worth and discover how to use that in the world.

For now, I would suggest you start a group that meets monthly. A moon lodge, an herbal circle, a reading group. Set a specific day (the first Friday evening of each month or the third Thursday or something like that) and do it. Do not worry if no one comes. Keep doing it. It is for you, after all, to learn that you can do something. Sooner or later, someone will attend and it will grow from there.

Try a number of things that you might like to do. Be willing to let them go if they do not work out or if you are unhappy. The path to success is strewn with failure, so get out there and fail. BIG SECRET Everyone feels inadequate! ANOTHER BIG SECRET. Everyone wants someone else to tell them what to do and how to live because they feel inadequate. AND A WARNING It is not hard to succeed, it is hard to avoid being ruined by success.

Green Blessings,
Susun Weed


Legal Disclaimer

top of page

Susun Weed’s books:

Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year
Author: Susun S. Weed. Simple, safe remedies for pregnancy, childbirth, lactation, and newborns. Includes herbs for fertility and birth control. Foreword by Jeannine Parvati Baker. 196 pages, index, illustrations.
Retails for $14.95
Order at:

Healing Wise
Author: Susun S. Weed. Superb herbal in the feminine-intuitive mode. Complete instructions for using common plants for food, beauty, medicine, and longevity. Introduction by Jean Houston. 312 pages, index, illustrations. Retails for $17.95

NEW Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way

Author: Susun S. Weed. The best book on menopause is now better. Completely revised with 100 new pages. All the remedies women know and trust plus hundreds of new ones. New sections on thyroid health, fibromyalgia, hairy problems, male menopause, and herbs for women taking hormones. Recommended by Susan Love MD and Christiane Northrup MD. Introduction by Juliette de Bairacli Levy. 304 pages, index, illustrations.
Retails for $16.95
For excerpts visit:

Breast Cancer? Breast Health!

Author: Susun S. Weed. Foods, exercises, and attitudes to keep your breasts healthy. Supportive complimentary medicines to ease side-effects of surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, or tamoxifen. Foreword by Christiane Northrup, M.D. 380 pages, index, illustrations. Retails for $21.95

Return to Weed Wanderings Menu at
top of page

For permission to reprint Any content on this site, contact us at:

Check out this Wise Woman website:

© Susun Weed -Wise Woman Center
~ Disclaimer & Privacy Policy ~

Weed Wanderings is sponsored by:

wisewoman bookshop

wise woman offerings

Other Wise Woman websites include: