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~ Herbal Medicine with Susun Weed ~

MARCH 2003 ~ Volume 3 Number 3

Susun Weed, teaching in Hawaii Jan, 2003, photo by Kutira, Maui Retreat


What's Inside Weed Wanderings this Month...



Feature Article
Be Your Own Herbal Expert



Wise Woman Wit & Wisdom

A PEACE MESSAGE from Kahn-Tineta Horn, Mohawk mother & grandmother

We have the power
to stop the war!

BREATHE excerpt from:
Seven Directions Movement Meditiation

Weed Wise Recipes


Wise Woman Feature
by Marie Summerwood

Herbal Medicine Chest
(Rubus species)

In loving memory of Peggy "Slugwoman" Goddard

May her spirit soar free!

Visit the Weed Wanderings Archive



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Join us this year for spirit healing and herbal medicine workshops, intensives, and apprenticeships with Susun Weed and other Wise Woman teachers. The Wise Woman Center in Woodstock NY exists to re-weave the healing cloak of the Ancients. This land, this sacred sanctuary for women is a place for the teachings of the Wise Woman way. The Goddess lives here, as do goats, fairies, green witches, and elders. Located between Woodstock and Saugerties, 5 miles from the NYS Thruway, the Wise Woman Center is easily accessible while private enough for nude swimming. You'll receive a map and directions when you register. Nourishing wild-food vegetarian meals are included with all workshops.

See the Calendar of Events & Workshop schedule (and to register) for this year, click here.

"Dear Susan, I have used all your herbal books for years now. They have been my reliable companions during pregnancies, homebirths and subsequent child-rearing years and now as I enter my menopausal years I feel so lucky to have your menopausal book as well. I just recently got a computer after years of being against having one in the house (I've gone nearly a year without t.v.), and was so pleased to get the wonderful news (in your yearly Wise Woman Gazette) of your fabulous website. I am in heaven!! So, please sign me up for your e-zine/newsletter! Thanks, and Many Green Blessings to You and Yours!" Debi



2002, Susun S. Weed


Herbal medicine is the medicine of the people. It is simple, safe, effective, and free. Our ancestors knew how to use an enormous variety of plants for health and well-being. Our neighbors around the world continue to use local plants for healing and health maintenance, and you can too.

In your first lesson, you learned how to "listen" to the messages of plant's tastes. And you discovered that using plants in water bases (teas, infusions, vinegars, soups)—and as simples—allows you to experiment with and explore herbal medicine safely.

In this lesson, we will learn how to make effective water-based herbal remedies and talk more about using simples.


Teas are a favorite way to consume herbs. Made by brewing a small amount of herbs (typically a teaspoonful to a cup of water) for a short time (generally 1-2 minutes), teas are flavorful, colorful drinks.

Herbs rich in coloring compounds—such as hibiscus, rose hips, calendula, and black tea—make enticing and tasty teas. They may also contain polyphenols, phytochemicals known to help prevent cancer. Since coloring compounds and polyphenols are fairly stable, dried herbs are considered best for teas rich in these.

Herbs rich in volatile oils—such as ginger, chamomile, cinnamon, catnip, mint, lemon balm, lemon grass, lavender, bergamot, and fennel, anise, and cumin seed—make lovely teas, which are effective in easing spasms, stimulating digestion, eliminating pain, and inducing sleep. Since much of the volatile oils are lost when herbs are dried, fresh herbs are considered best for teas rich in these, but dried herbs can be used with good results.

I enjoy a cup of hot tea with honey. But teas fail to deliver the mineral richness locked into many common herbs. A cup of nettle tea, for instance, contains only 5-10 mg of calcium, while a cup of nettle infusion contains up to 500 mg of calcium. For optimum nutrition, I drink nourishing herbal infusions every day.


An infusion is a large amount of herb brewed for a long time. Typically, one ounce by weight (about a cup by volume) of dried herb is placed in a quart jar, which is then filled to the top with boiling water, tightly lidded and allowed to steep for 4-10 hours. After straining, a cup or more is consumed, and the remainder chilled to slow spoilage. Drinking 2-4 cups a day is usual. Since the minerals and other phytochemicals in nourishing herbs are made more accessible by drying, dried herbs are considered best for infusions. (See experiment 2.)

I make my infusions at night before I go to bed and they are ready in the morning. I put my herb in my jar and my water in the pot, and the pot on the fire, then brush my teeth (or sweep the floor) until the kettle whistles. I pour the boiling water up to the rim of the jar, screw on a tight lid, turn off the stove and the light, and go to bed. In the morning, I strain the plant material out, squeezing it well, and drink the liquid. I prefer it iced, unless the morning is frosty. I drink the quart of infusion within 36 hours or until it spoils. Then I use it to water my houseplants, or pour it over my hair after washing as a final rinse, which can be left on.

My favorite herbs for infusion are nettle, oatstraw, red clover, and comfrey leaf, but only one at a time. The tannins in red clover and comfrey make me pucker my lips, so I add a little mint, or bergamot, when I infuse them, just enough to flavor the brew slightly. A little salt in your infusion may make it taste better than honey will.

Having trouble finding herbs in bulk at your local health food store? Try ordering online.


When we use simples (one plant at a time), we allow ourselves an intimacy that deepens and strengthens our connections to plants and their green magic. There are lots of interesting plants, and lots of herbalists who maintain that herbal medicine means formulae and combinations of herbs. But I consider herbs as lovers, preferring to have only one in bed with me at a time.

When I use one plant at a time it is much easier for me to discern the effect of that plant. When I use one plant at a time and someone has a bad reaction to the remedy, it is obvious what the source of the distress is, and usually easy to remedy. When I use one plant at a time, I make it easy for my body to communicate with me and tell me what plants it needs for optimum health.

I even go so far as to ally with one plant at a time, usually for at least a year. By narrowing my focus, I actually find that I learn more.


In our next lesson we will learn more about the difference between nourishing, tonifying, stimulating/sedating, and potentially-poisonous plants; how to prepare them; and how to use them. In the following installments we will explore the difference between fixing disease and promoting health, how to apply the three traditions of healing, and how to take charge of your own health care with the six steps of healing.


Make and drink a quart of nourishing herbal infusion made with stinging nettle, oatstraw, red clover, raspberry leaf, or comfrey leaf. If you wish, flavor it with mint. On the same day, make a tea from the same herb, using dried herb. Compare and contrast the colors, flavors, and sensations.


Make an infusion of stinging nettle, oatstraw, red clover, raspberry leaf, or comfrey leaf, using one ounce of dried herb as usual. At the same time, make a quart of "brew" using the same herb, but fresh, not dried. To make it fair, use 4 ounces of fresh herb. After one hour of steeping, look at both jars, taste and compare/contrast. Repeat three more times at hourly intervals.

Minerals are released slowly into water. They darken the color of the water and give it a dense, rich taste. Oil-soluble vitamins float to the top and make a thin glaze of swirls.


Buy, or grow, a tasty, aromatic herb, like ginger, peppermint, or rosemary. For this experiment you will need one tablespoon of fresh herb, and one teaspoon of the same herb dried. Place the fresh herb in a cup or mug and the dried herb in another. Fill both to the top with boiling water. After one minute, taste, smell, compare the teas. Wait another minute and compare again. Then wait five minutes and try each one again.


Make a tea with aromatic seeds - anise, caraway, coriander, cumin, fennel, or fenugreek. Use a teaspoon of seeds in a cup of water. At the same time, brew some using a tablespoon of seeds per cup. After a minute, taste, smell, contrast. Repeat in five minutes, then in thirty minutes, then after an hour, then after four hours. Teas and infusions of dried seeds are almost the same.


1. Drink 2-4 cups of nourishing herbal infusion for a month and see if your health changes in any way. Best if you don't drink coffee or tea during this month.

2. Choose a green ally to focus on this year.

3. Read Healing Power of Minerals by Paul Bergner.

4. Read about stinging nettle and oatstraw in my book Healing Wise.

5. Write out the botanical names of the herbs you used in making your teas and your infusions.


Learn more about essential oils in plants. Grow several plants rich in essential oils.

Learn more about tannins. Make an oakbark infusion.

Susun Weed's Wise Woman Center, Summer 2002

Ready to be your own herbal expert? Start a correspondence course!

This year, Susun is offering a special 7-month plan, click here to learn more.

For permission to reprint this article, contact us at:

Study with Susun via Correspondence Course in the comfort of your own home. She offers three inviting choices: Green Witch, Green Allies, and Spirit & Practice of the Wise Woman Tradition.

Green Witch focuses on personal and spiritual development. You'll create rituals, prepare an herbal first-aid kit, encounter your Goddess archetype, discover the magic of your menstrual/menopausal changes, and develop wise woman ways of living and healing.

Green Allies explores herbal medicine through direct experiences with plants, plant spirits (fairies, devas), and plant medicines. For those who want to deepen, rather than broaden, their knowledge of plants: a year's worth of investigation and experimentation with one plant ally.

Spirit & Practice of the Wise Woman Tradition focuses on understanding, internalizing, and using the Three Traditions of Healing (Wise Woman, Heroic, and Scientific) and the Six Steps of Healing. Health-care practitioners find this course exceptionally helpful, but anyone who cares for the health of others (even family members) will benefit.

Click here to learn more about how to register.

Click here to read: BE YOUR OWN HERBAL EXPERT - PART 3

"Hello Susun, I loved your website, and I really appreciate all you are doing to promote good health and peace around the world, and to empower people to take control of their lives. Please include me in your mailing list; I have shared your website with my friends and family members." ~ Paul A. Lackey, Heber Springs, AR

Wise Woman Feature...


by Marie Summerwood

Nearly everything in the universe is spinning. Maybe everything. From the newest newly-discovered, tiniest sub-atomic particle, to the electrons in every atom, to the sperm spinning like crazy to reach the egg, to the baby's head spiraling out of its mother's womb, to the braided waters pouring so fast between boulders in a spring river, it's all spinning. From the spiral winds of hurricanes to the spinning of earth as she orbits around the sun, to the largest galaxies, we are all spinning in a hundred million trillion goddessillion ways.

Spiral comes from a Middle English word meaning "blade of grass". Perhaps this has to do with the fact that plants turn around and spiral up as they grow. And roots grow spiralically down into the soil. Whirl, whorl, helix, twist, twirl, spin.

Spinning implies cycles; regular, as in planet orbits, or with variations like ocean waves. The spiral movement cannot always be predicted, yet the science of mathematics tries. Early Greek mathematicians plotted spirals on graphs, and the spirals were named after them.

On the other hand, early paths of spirit didn't want to control the spiral, but rather to honor and welcome its wisdom. In ancient Greece also, there were spiral walking gardens in front of the temples. It was said you would not find what you were looking for if you walked a straight line into the temple. They knew the spiral is the movement of all life.

Celebrating earth holidays around the year offers a delightful and dedarkful path of apprenticeship to some of the teachings of the spiral. The teachings of darkness and light, the teachings of empty and full, and the teachings of life, which includes birth and death. We make ceremonies, write songs and dances, eat special foods, tell particular stories to help ourselves make the journey. We use earth holidays to mark passage in our lives. At the same time we honor the source of our life - this earth - and the beauty of the seasons as the earth also lives and ages. In ritual we can connect ourselves to the source in sacredness. In ritual we can plant seeds of growth in our own selves, cultivate ourselves as the garden of Life's beauty that we are. Spring Equinox is a day of balanced light and dark. It is a time to make decisions. It is a time to balance an egg...

Up! is the movement of spring and Up! is the direction. In the spiral of the year around, spring brings new growth. Green plants are a most literal example, as they grow Up! I love to catch the wave of energy that spring offers (at least in part by eating new spring plants!). Especially following winters of particular depth, as those since menopause, as those in times of loss, as those of big change, I appreciate the healing power of the rising of spring. It is really about our need and our ability to trust in the return. Developing trust in the return brings faith as a gift. The dark winter is only bearable because we have faith the spring will come. The seasons of the year travel not from dark to light, or light to dark, but around and through it all; dark to equinox to light to equinox to dark to day at a time. It is only possible to go to the darkness with our hearts intact if we can do it gradually, knowing that the light will then grow, that spring will then come.

Ritual helps here too; a sacred circle of women is a strong container. Chanting helps to weave a strong container. Intention weaves a strong container. As we reclaim the practice of celebrating the earth holidays around the year, we see that spring is worth noticing because although it is the same season as last year this time, we are different, we have changed. We have grown. It is worth noticing! A spiral is a circle as it moves through time. This is the dance of life. Come dance with us as we honor the Rising of Spring.


Marie Summerwood came by her dedication to the goddess early on in life. Her mother named her after Mary, and Anne, Mary's mother. At her Catholic confirmation she took the name Elizabeth, Mary's cousin. Read about Marie's love for her magnificent cooking at the Wise Woman Center.

Learn more about Marie's fabulous CD's Women's Sacred Chants.

Here are some great recipes from Ms. Summerwood for you to enjoy!!


She Walks With Snakes - Women's Sacred Chants

17 chants - Produced by Marie Summerwood.
One-hour audio CD for $15

Listen to some sound clips:
I Honor What Is Sacred -mp3
She Walks With Snakes -mp3
Open Until Then -mp3



Vocalists: Cherie Ackerson, Debra Lee Gertz, Lois Needham, Lisa Renaud, Carol Resnick, Radell Roberts, Marie Summerwood.

Musicians: Lisa Davis, Suzanne Jerrett, Amy Jerrett.

order SHE WALKS WITH SNAKES in our Bookshop


Women's Sacred Chants with Marie Summerwood

audio CD for $15

Listen to some sound clips:
Turns Again -mp3
Remember, Surrender -mp3
She Who Holds -mp3


These chants were written in Bastrop Texas at a workshop called "Chantwriting for Goddesswomen". Marie Summerwood, musical artist and teacher of women's sacred music, led the day during which each of the 14 women present wrote her own chant.

order MEMORIES FROM THE LOST PINES in our Bookshop

read more about Marie Summerwood


...Excerpt from Susun Weed's Healing Wise


Preparation time: 30 minutes. Grating or shredding fresh roots before cooking increases their already abundant energy. This food/medicine gives optimum nutrition for great strength, staying power, rooted energy, and creativity. Serves four.

1 tablespoon/15ml olive oil
1 burdock root*, grated
2 carrots, grated
1 parsnip, grated
1 Tbs/15ml dark sesame oil
1 teaspoon/5ml tamari
handful water
*or salsify, sunchoke, wild carrot root, turnip, or cattail roots.

Heat oil. Add shredded or grated roots. (Soak burdock in vinegar water before grating; do not par-boil.) Saute while stirring for five minutes or so. Then toss in water, tamari, and sesame oil. Cover well and cook until tender, roughly ten minutes more.

Preparation time: With precooked burdock, 15 minutes at the most.
Add another 45 minutes to soak and cook burdock. Serves 6-8.

4 cups/1 liter burdock root
3 tablespoons/45ml olive oil
3 tablespoons/45ml butter
4 oz/125ml fresh herbs
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs/30ml lemon juice
2 tablespoons/30ml tamari

Soak and parboil burdock root or stalk. If you use chilled, already cooked burdock, warm it. Heat oil and butter. Add burdock, then garlic and herbs. Stir and heat together for a minute, then add tamari and lemon juice. Serve hot.

Preparation time: An hour to set it up to marinate, plus 10 minutes just before serving. Try this at your next lawn party or cook out! Serves 15-20.

4 cups/1 liter burdock stalk
2 cups/500ml green beans
1 c/250ml mushroom slices
1 tsp/5 ml dried thyme
1 tsp/5ml dried marjoram
1 tsp/5ml dried mint
1 cup/250ml olive oil
3 Tbs/45ml herb vinegar
6 Tbs/90ml tamari
½ tsp/3ml garlic powder
2 c/500ml cherry tomatoes
1 cup/250ml black olives
8 Tbs/125ml fresh chives
8 Tbs/125ml fresh parsley

Soak and parboil burdock stalk pieces. Cut beans in half and cook until tender. Mix mushroom slices and dried herbs in a large bowl or jar with warm beans and burdock. Combine oil, vinegar, tamari, and garlic powder. Mix well and pour on. Let marinate in a cool place all day or all night. Add cherry tomatoes, olives, and fresh herbs just before serving.

Preparation time: Collect the necessary weeds while preparing garden soil. After that, it will take roughly 45 minutes to get everything into the pot, and an hour to cook. Serves 13-15.

2 c/500ml onion, chopped
4 tablespoons/60ml olive oil
2 c/500ml fresh burdock root
1 c/250ml fresh dandelion
1 c/250ml fresh yellow dock
4 ounces/125ml seaweed
2 c/500ml carrot, sliced
6 c/1500ml potatoes, cubed
4 quarts/4 liters water

Cook onion in oil in soup pot until golden. Add soaked, but not parboiled burdock root slices. Chop fresh dandelion leaves and roots; add. Chop fresh leaves and roots of yellow dock (Rumex crispus) and add. Add all remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and cook covered at least an hour.

Preparation time: 25-30 minutes. As the days get longer, supper comes later and later and I look for fast dishes to get us fed before we realize how late we’ve been out playing. Serves two.

1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons/30ml olive oil
1 c/250ml cooked grain
1 c/250 ml burdock stalk
2c/500ml diced tomato
4 oz/110g grated cheese

Saute onion and garlic in oil in heavy skillet or casserole. Add cooked grain and heat through. Layer parboiled burdock stalk pieces, diced tomato, and lastly cheese on top of grain. Cover and cook on stove top, or cook in oven uncovered at 350 F/80 C, until cheese is melted.


Burdock Recipes excerpt from Susun Weed's Healing Wise

"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




Excerpt: BREATH


We inhale, we exhale, this we know.

Our breath is the most important healing gift we have. Breath feeds flesh and bones so one may ACTUALIZE ONE’S POTENTIAL. Movement is initiated by the breath.

Breath is Life. It is a natural reality that is present in us all. When we consciously work with our breath the mind becomes focused and our breath carries thought around the world. Motherearth inhales and exhales, just as we do. Sacred life energy moves within her body as it does in ours. Simply in the way we begin our day we experience the power of breath and movement to bring harmony and to clarify the mind.

Our physical existence depends upon our breath. Breath is paramount in all we do and crucial in all physiological functions of our body. Breathing is not only a physical process it is the vital source connected to the functioning of mind and emotions. When we are in touch with our breathing our state of mind and emotions are affected.

Feelings, thoughts and emotions may be released, our thoughts and emotions stabilize, giving way to relaxation and ease, bringing clarity and focus to our being.

During the Seven Directions Movement Meditation we learn to synchronize the movements of the body with the flow of the breath. Basically, the breathing in of the vital force is done with the movements of receiving, gathering in. Sending out, the give away movements are performed with full exhalation.

As the breath and movement become in harmony so the dance flows with ease and grace. When the mind and movement are in harmony the mind remains focused.

Excerpt from 7 Directions Movement Meditation by Whitefeather


A Peace Message

from Kahn-Tineta Horn,
Mohawk mother & grandmother

Aho Family:

The following message is from a wise Mohawk Grandmother from the Haudenosaunee. Her words are true and good. I am honored to be descended from such a peaceful people.

This message was emailed to me and needs passing on. Thank You for all your prayers and work for the people.

White Owl
Turtle Island


Moccasin Makers and War Breakers, A call to action by the women of the world. We have the power to stop the war!

"Before the men can go to war, the women must make their moccasins." In the tradition of our ancestors, it was customary for the women to make the moccasins worn by the men who were going to war. If the women did not want war, they did not make the moccasins.

Our ancestors belonged to the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. Europeans called them Iroquois. We overcame a horrible legacy of war and violence when Deganawida, the Peace Maker, gave us our Great Law of Peace. The United States Senate has acknowledged that our law served as a model for the Constitution of the United States (U.S. S. Con. Res. 76, 2 Dec. 1987). The U.S. Constitution was, in turn, a model for the Charter of the United Nations. Our law is the basis of modern international law.

The Americans copied our laws and customs, but they did not understand them.

Our ancestors recognized the sovereignty of all men and women by solving community conflicts through discussion in a People's Council. In our tradition, three criteria must be kept in mind through all deliberations:

1) Peace: meaning peace must be kept at all costs.

2) Righteousness: meaning decisions must be morally right taking into
consideration the needs of seven generations to come.

3) Power: meaning the power of the people must be maintained including
the equal sovereignty of all men and all women.

Conflicts between nations were also resolved through diplomacy and consensus. War - or the use of violence- was only a last resort. Even then, the women and children of the opponents were spared.

Throughout, our ancestors always respected the other nation's different customs, laws and ways of life, whether they approved of them or not. They would work out agreements on how to live side by side. Therefore we have stood by and not become involved in this current conflict. But we see now that it has gone too far. Innocent lives and mother earth is at stake. As women and caretakers of this earth, we have decided to speak up.

According to the law of our ancestors, the soil of North America is vested in the women. Serious decisions about warfare had to involve the other half of the people - the women - the bearers of life, the nurturers of the earth.

We are now facing an unnecessary war. We have a duty to use our power to do good. We have decided to remind all humanity of this important truth. War cannot happen without the support of women. We ask the women of the world to come forward and play their rightful role as the
progenitors, the creators of all men, of all humanity, the caretakers of the earth and of all that lives upon it.

As women, we know the pain and suffering of childbirth. We feel a deep loss when our children die. This understanding compels us to act to stop the destruction of lives. The children must not suffer. Not our children. Not the children of anyone we disagree with. We respect the sovereign and sacred right of each individual to live on this earth.

We ask you, the women of the world, and the men who support us, to come forward and stop this madness.

This decision to go to war will cause the deaths of thousands of innocent men, women and children. It is a decision that has been made primarily by men without the input of the people of the nation, without the input of the women. Most of these men have grandmothers, mothers, wives, girlfriends, mistresses, sisters, aunts, daughters, nieces, granddaughters, nannies, etc.

We are asking all of these women to put pressure on these men - men like President George Bush, Colin Powell, Senator Rumsfeld, Prime Minister Tony Blair, Saddam Hussein, Prime Minister Jean Chretien, Ariel Sharon, the Palestinians, the North Koreans and anyone else who is involved in causing the current threat to destroy the world.

Women, bring your men to their senses.

Women, remember your power. Remember your responsibility. Every person has personal power. We must all use our power to do good.

We must stop the war.

We must maintain the Peace.

We must hold back the moccasins.

Kahn-Tineta Horn, Mohawk mother & grandmother

Self-Portrait courtesy of sHEALy (Sherry Healy)
Self-Portrait courtesy of sHEALy (Sherry Healy)



NEW LINKS to check out... Legal abortion hangs by a razor-thin 5-4 margin in the U.S. Supreme Court. The possible retirement of 2 Justices could allow anti-abortion President Bush to pack the Court with anti-abortion Justices who would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, relegating women to back alley abortions. Join us in urging Senate leaders to filibuster any Supreme Court nominee who won't support Roe, and TELL WASHINGTON WE WILL NEVER GO BACK!


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 The Herbal Collective magazine encompasses a philosophy of holistic health and natural lifestyles with articles on topics such as: aromatherapy, herbology, naturopathic, homeopathic and chiropractic medicine, Traditional Chinese medicine, natural foods and supplements, healthy recipes, alternative animal care, fitness, hypnotherapy, herb gardening and therapies like massage, reiki, reflexology, consegrity, healing touch, and much more. Amazon Bookstore Cooperative, Inc. The Oldest Independent Feminist Bookstore in North America Since 1970 - 30+ years of service to women and girls. A full-service feminist bookstore for all women, girls, and their friends. We offer a diversity of books, gifts, music and art by, for, and about women. Amazon Bookstore Cooperative provides products and services that foster and encourage the strength, wisdom, beauty and diversity of women, girls, and their families. Women’s Books Online. A cooperative book review. The overall purpose of the site is to encourage women to read women's books and to buy women's books at women's bookstores if they possibly can. The site is loosely (some might say chaotically) connected with the Feminist Bookstore Index, an online resource indexing women's bookstores all around the world, and we encourage you, if any of these books sounds like they would interest you, to find the women's bookstore nearest you (if you haven't got a favorite one already) and support women's words by buying women's books at women's stores.




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 XSIST - This website gives us the opportunity to reach out to the ones that need healing, guidance and support in their lives. Our focus is on the Self as when the Self is healed and aware of its mission, all the answers on the questions we all may have, will become as clear as the daylight. TCM CENTRAL is a dedicated online source of authentic information on the many realms Chinese Medicine for practitioners, students, and the public.


 Free newsletter of events for women throughout North America. Over 30 years ago, Patricia Lynch (CEO of Niche Syndicate, Women’s Radio and the National Women’s Calendar) asked “Where do other women meet to plan and build their lives? To take charge?” Now, women are building and planning every day. Countless women organizations are out there willing to help! Now she says, “I want to help make a difference. I know you do, too. This is my passion. This is our mission. Come join me!”
 MoonSunEarth - Healing Mother Earth One Person at a Time. Teacher - Julie E. Brent
Since 1986 - Assisting in Transformation

We are Earth, We are Sun, We are Moon
we breath the flow of energy that is the earth, the sun, the moon, the universal mind we seek to become LOVE
in every aspect of our existence whatever we believe that to be. The paths that have assisted me on my personal journey (classical homeopathy• yoga • reflexology • reiki • sacred geometry) I would like to share with you in your time.


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Herbal Medicine Chest


By Maida Silverman

BLACKBERRY (Rubus species)

Photo courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Excerpt from A City Herbal by Maida Silverman

BLACKBERRY (Rubus species)

Pg. 12-19

Folknames: Bramble, Scaldhead, Fingerberry, Black Longberry

Location: Road embankments, parks, along fences of vacant lots, and waste areas

Botanical Description: Blackberry canes (as the stems are called) may be trailing, arched, or upright. They are quite flexible and sometimes bend down to the ground and root at the tip. Upright canes may grow more than six feet tall. The compound leaves are dark green with three- or five-lobed leaflets. The are variable in size and shape and have toothed edges. The illustration is a typical example, and both three- and five-leafed specimens grew on the same plant.

Blackberry blooms from mid- to late June. The masses of white or pale pink flower clusters make the plants conspicuous and easy to spot and remember for future berry picking. In the eastern part of the United States, Blackberries start ripening toward the middle of July. They are small, green, hard, and sour at first, becoming larger, and when fully ripe, juicy and sweet. Ripe and unripe berries frequently appear on the plants at the same time.

More than two hundred species of Blackberry are found in the United States. Some are low, trailing, and vinelike; others are large bushy plants. In the Northeast, purple-black berries are most common, but other varieties may be red or even white when ripe. Everyone loves the delicious fruit, and Blackberries of one kind or another can be found throughout the United States.

Blackberries are perennials that reproduce from seeds. The bushes are usually armed with thorns best described as vicious; they seem to deliberately reach out and grasp the clothing and skin and can inflict painful scratches on a careless picker. The thorns themselves have a nasty tendency to break off at the tip and become embedded in the skin. The eating more than makes up for the picking, however. The only other way to obtain Blackberries is to buy them, and they can be purchased only at gourmet greengrocers for a brief time during the summer, at a cost of about two dollars for a mere half-pint!

Historical Lore, Legends, and Uses: The word bramble is said to be derived from the Old English word brymble, meaning “prickly,” and bramble can also mean “any thorny bush.” Another source explains the word as coming from the Anglo-Saxon word bramel, itself derived from an older word, brom, meaning “broom.” In earlier times, the thorny branches of the Blackberry tied to a stick were used to make a broom for sweeping. In England, the word “bramble” is used as a verb; the expression “going brambling” means going Blackberry picking.

The Blackberry has long been appreciated for the taste of the ripe fruit and valued for its medicinal properties. Many writers did not even bother with a botanical description of the plant, saying instead that “it is so well known it needs no description,” or “it grows in almost every hedge.” It is difficult to overestimate the faith people once had in the healing powers of this plant. The astringent and binding properties were familiar to all who wrote about Blackberries and all parts of the plant—leaves, roots, flowers, and ripe and unripe berries were used. Preparations containing Blackberry were used to treat diarrhea, dysentery (often called “bloody flux”), various stomach disorders, and were believed valuable for healing irritations of the mouth and throat. Eating young shoots was even credited with fastening loose teeth in the gums! Infusions of the roots and leaves and syrups prepared from the berries added to wine were the usual methods of administering.

The Leechbook of Bald, a tenth-century Anglo-Saxon treatise on plants and herbal remedies, recommended preparations of Blackberry. For “flux in women” a tea was made from the berries and drunk for three days while fasting. For “heart-ache” the fresh leaves were pounded and laid over on the wound.

One Tudor herbalist recommended taking Blackberry juice mixed with wine and honey for the “passions of the heart.” He observed, “The sweet ripe fruit is very effectual, besides the facility and pleasantness in taking.” Another herbalist, Dr. William Coles, prescribed Blackberry as a remedy for “heartburn, as some call it, which is a gnawing in the stomach from choler.” (“Choler” is an old word meaning anger.” This particular writer was apparently aware of the connection between emotions like anger and physical illness, especially stomach and digestive disorders. He noted that “the distilled water of {Blackberry} branches, leaves, flowers and fruit is very pleasant in both taste and smell and is excellent for feverish persons.” At the end of his extensive treatise on the virtues of Blackberry, Dr. Coles decided to include the following homily: “The people of Norway use their bramble against scurvy and other melancholy diseases, so that we may admire the wonderful wisdom of God, who has ordained to grow in every climate remedies for those diseases whereunto it is subject.” The doctor was no doubt rebuking his fellow Englishmen and women, who at that time were abandoning their native medicines in favor of foreign imported herbs, which he believed were greatly inferior.

The young roots and the root bark of the older plants were most favored for medicinal use. These contained the greatest amounts of valuable tannic, malic, and citric acids, and thus produced the strongest tonic and astringent effect.

The dried or green leaves were used to prepare gargles and heal sores and irritations of the mouth and genitals. One seventeenth-century writer states that “the powdered leaves strewn on running sores heals them.” A decoction of the leaves was also valuable for treating stomach upsets and women’s ailments. And infusion of the unripe berries was highly esteemed for curing vomiting and loose bowels. A wash for the hair (the leaves boiled in lye!) cured head sores and made the hair black.

Home remedies for the digestive ailment that frequently resulted from drinking unwholesome milk or water and eating tainted meats were kept on hand until well into the twentieth century, and this is still done in rural areas. Every kitchen has a supply of dried Blackberry leaves, roots, and berries on hand, as well as Blackberry jam, cordial, and syrup. The Pennsylvania Dutch used the leaves, roots, and fruit to ease indigestion, and preparations of the root were valued for treating diarrhea.

In China, several varieties of Blackberry were described and employed medicinally. The Chinese believed the fruit strengthens the “virile powers” and increases the “yin principle,” in addition to giving vigor to the whole body. Preparations of the young shoots were used to improve the complexion and treat colds and fevers.

Blackberry was a familiar medicinal plant to native Americans. The Cherokee Indians chewed the root to ease coughs and used cold poultices to relieve hemorrhoids. Delaware Indians made a tea from the roots, which they used to cure dysentery, and the Oneida, Catawba, and other tribes were familiar with the root and used it for similar diseases.

At one time, Blackberry root was an official drug listed in the United States Dispensatory. A fluid extract for treating diarrhea was listed as recently as 1955.

From antiquity down to the present day, an astonishing amount of folklore and superstition have become associated with the Blackberry. Classical Greek writers, aware of the genuinely useful properties of the Blackberry, were convinced that the plant had the power to cure the bite of poisonous creatures. This belief persisted for centuries. In addition, Blackberry was credited with having a special affinity for women. The origin of this belief is lost in time, but perhaps the fertile habit of the plant or its many-seed fruit was associated with the hoped-for fertility of women. In any event, Blackberry has for centuries been used to treat the disorders connected with menstruation, conception, and childbirth. Usually taken as a tea, the berries and leaves are still used by women in many parts of the United States and Europe.

The speed and efficiency with which the Blackberry bush can transform an area of open land into a virtually impenetrable forest of menacing thorns has made a tremendous impression, as testified to by the wealth of examples found in folklore: Sleeping Beauty protected by the bramble forest for one hundred years; Rapunzel whose lover falls into the bramble patch and is blinded by the thorns; and our own Br’er Rabbit are a few examples of many. The bramble is also said to be the Burning Bush from which God spoke to Moses, and from which the Crown of Thorns that tormented Jesus was fashioned.

The Anglo-Saxons believed Blackberry had the power to undo witchcraft. Christian faith and a pagan belief in the magical power of numbers (especially 3 and 9) are combined in the following charm “against any evil rune {witchcraft} and for one full of elvish tricks” (under enchantment): “Take Bramble Apple {Blackberries}, pound and sift them, put them in a pouch, lay them under the altar and sing nine masses over them. Then put this dust into milk, drip Holy Water three times upon it and drink every three hours.”

Another prescription, “a good salve against the temptations of the Fiend: and for a man full of elfin tricks,” required ten different herbs, bramble included. These were pounded together, boiled in butter, and the resulting broth was strained through a cloth and set under a church altar. Nine Masses were sung over it and then “the man was smeared on parts of his body.”

A peculiar contrast to the pleasure derived from eating the fresh, ripe Blackberries was the superstitious belief, in many areas in the British Isles and France, that Blackberries were unwholesome and even dangerous to eat. Thomas Green, a nineteenth-century British herbalist, mentions that “in some places Blackberries are called Scaldberries, from their supposed qualities of giving a disease called Scaldhead to children who eat them in immoderate quantities, as children will, when they can obtain them.”

In many parts of England there was a widespread belief among country people that it was unlucky to gather or eat Blackberries after Old Michealmas Day (October 11). Legend had it that Satan was thrown out of heaven on that day, and fell into the bramble bush, whose thorns caused him great pain. Ever since that time, on the yearly anniversary of his fall, he “spoils” the berries by spitting or breathing on them. Anyone foolish enough to eat any after that day will have bad luck, become ill, or perhaps even die. In one district, Blackberries were not eaten at all until quite recently, it being believed that “the trail of the Serpent” was upon them.

Blackberries were ruled by the planet Mars, and to dream of them foretold the future. It was generally a bad omen if you dreamed you walked through a bramble patch. If the thorns pricked you, secret enemies would do you harm through a trusted friend; if the thorns drew blood, you were to expect serious business reverses. If you passed through unharmed, however, you would triumph over your enemies.

In Cornwall, Blackberry leaves were employed to heal burns in a magical ritual of ancient origin. Water from a holy well was poured into a basin, and nine Blackberry leaves were floated on the surface. One at a time, each leaf was passed over and away from the afflicted area, the operator saying three times over each leaf:

There came three angels out of the East.
One brought fire and two brought frost.
Out of fire and in frost,
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

A variant of this charm was to lay the leaves on the skin; as they fell off, so would the burns heal.

Perhaps the most fascinating belief of all is the legendary efficacy attributed to the “bramble arch.” One sixteenth-century writer noted that “every one that hath seen it is able to say that it {Blackberry} shoots forth many long, ribbed branches, which by reason of their length and weakness bend down to the ground again, there many times taking root.” It was widely held that certain diseases could be cured by having the patient creep or be passed through this natural arch. The belief in this cure extended to animals as well as humans. In Normandy, until the latter part of the nineteenth century, cattle were regularly herded through these natural arches to cure them of lameness.

The bramble arch was considered even more powerful if the original plant was growing on one person’s land and the tip of the cane had rooted on the property of another. It was very bad luck to destroy one of these arches or deny sick persons access to them. In Essex, a person (usually a child) suffering from whooping cough would be made to crawl under the arch seven times from east to west, saying each time; “In bramble, out cough, here I leave the whooping cough.” A small cross fashioned from the thorny stems was worn on the person to ward off the disease, or aid in the cure if one was already ill.

Children were passed through the bramble arch to cure rickets and skin diseases as well. Along the Welsh border, after the child had crawled or been passed through, he was given a slice of bread and butter. The child consumed half the slice, and the other half was left under the arch. It was hoped that a bird or animal would eat this remaining piece and take the disease unto itself; the animal would then eventually die and the child would recover. Minor complaints such as rashes and boils could also be cured by crawling under the bramble arch three times from east to west.

All these rituals were meant to strengthen the cure. The healing powers of Christianity, the magic force of certain numbers such as 3, 7, and 9 as well as the life-giving force of the east-to-west “sunrise turn” would, it was hoped, enhance the recognized healing virtues of the Blackberry.

Suggested Uses: A modern writer suggests rubbing crushed fresh leaves on insect bites and scratches to relieve them, especially those received from the thorns of Blackberry bushes!

An infusion of the leaves is said to be useful for soothing sunburn, and other minor burns. I have used a syrup of the ripe berries to relieve upset stomachs and nausea, and to soothe sore throats and coughs.

In addition to the delights of eating freshly gathered Blackberries with cream and sugar, baked into pies, or made into jam, here are some additional ways to enjoy them.


Put ripe berries into a large pot and mash very gently with a potato masher. Add water to barely cover the berries, and cook over low heat until the steam rises and they start to give up their juice. Remove from heat and strain to remove seeds. Measure ½ cup of white sugar or mild-flavored honey (such as clover) for each cup of Blackberry juice, mix together the sweetening and juice, and reheat slowly only until sweetening is dissolved. Try not to let the juice or syrup boil, since this tends to destroy the appealing fresh-berry flavor. Keep syrup refrigerated in jars. (It may also be frozen, and keeps very well both ways.)

Blackberry syrup may be poured over cake, pancakes, or ice cream, and stirred into fresh fruit compotes. A few spoonfuls may be added to hot tea, and a pleasant drink may be prepared by adding 1 cup of boiling water to about an ounce of Blackberry syrup, along with a slice of lemon and sugar or honey to taste. This is especially welcome on a cold day, or before retiring.


Prepare syrup as for Blackberry syrup (preceding recipe), or if you wish a sweeter cordial, allow 1 cup of sugar to each cup of juice. You may spice the syrup with nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, or cloves, the combination and amount to your own taste. (Crush whole spices yourself. Do not use store-bought powders.) Boil syrup gently for about 10 minutes, then strain out the spices. You may use ½ cup of vodka (or brandy if you prefer) for each cup of syrup, or equal amounts of spirits and syrup. Store in tightly covered bottles.


Barely cover ripe berries with malt or cider vinegar, gently crush to allow juices to flow, and let stand three days. Strain, allowing juice to drip overnight. Measure juice, and add ½ cup of white sugar or mild honey for each cup of liquid. Mix together and boil gently until sweetening is dissolved. Skim off any scum that forms. When cool, bottle and cap tightly. A teaspoonful mixed with water is an excellent thirst quencher, especially welcome during feverish colds and coughs.


Allow 1 heaping tablespoon of dried Blackberry leaves per cup of boiling water, cover, and steep 10 minutes. Strain and add honey or sugar to taste. You can combine equal amounts of dried mint and dried Blackberry leaves—and excellent combination.

Dried Blackberry-leaf tea makes an excellent astringent wash for oily skin. Prepare as for Blackberry-leaf tea, using ¼ cup of leaves. Let cool to tepid, strain, pressing out all liquid, and pat gently on your skin.

To dry Blackberry leaves: Pick leaves dearest the growing tips (from midspring to midsummer) in the morning when the dew has dried off. Lay on screens or hang up in small bunches out of the sun, but in a dry airy place. When thoroughly dry, they will be crisp and brittle. Strip the whole leaves carefully from the stalks, and put away in jars. The leaves should retain their green color. To best preserve the active properties of the plant, do not crumble the leaves until you are ready to prepare the tea.


To prepare a tea with the dried green Blackberries, use 1 heaping tablespoon of berries. Pour boiling water over them, and allow them to steep 15 minutes. Strain, and add sugar or honey to taste. I have found this tea useful to ease mild stomach upsets.

To dry berries: Generally speaking, it is the green, unripe rather than the ripe Blackberries that are dried because the valuable astringent principle is strongest in the unripe berries. Make sure clusters are free from moisture when picked, and dry as described above for the leaves. They will take longer than the leaves, and will shrivel considerably. Put away only when thoroughly dry, or they will mold.

Blackberries are delicious in apple pie. Add about 1 cup or more if you wish to pie filling.

To freeze berries: Was gently and let dry thoroughly before freezing in plastic bags. It is not necessary to thaw before using.

Blackberry plants are a fine source of natural dye. A terra cotta color can be obtained from the leaves, and purple-brown from the ripe berries. See the Appendix, page 171, for instructions on preparing dye.

Excerpt from A City Herbal by Maida Silverman

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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.

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Susun Weed, teaching in Hawaii Jan, 2003, photo by Kutira, Maui Retreat
Susun Weed, teaching in Hawaii Jan, 2003, photo by Kutira, Maui Retreat