Justine: So you’ve also written about some of the ways that we attract cancer. Is that right?
Susun: Well, I’ve written Breast Cancer? Breast Health! Which is roughly divided into three sections. The first section is for keeping your breasts healthy. What kinds of things can you do to keep your breasts healthy? And this of course is also true for women who have been diagnosed and treated and then don’t want a recurrence. The second section is well, what do you do if you find a lump? And that includes ways to get through surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and taking Tomoxofin. And then the third section is a section of recipes and a materia medica of the most important herbs for maintaining breast health. So a long book. I put over 5,000 hours into it, and my editors put another 5,000 hours into it, and we’re just really pleased the tremendous reception that it’s gotten. One of my distributors when it came out refused to pick the book up. Said, “Oh, you know, breast cancer’s an awful topic”, and I said, “I tell you what, I’ll give you the first case free.” They now order 3,000 at a time of this book.
Justine: So I know that you start off in your anti-cancer lifestyle, staying in touch with your own seasonal rhythms and then you follow that up with sleep in total darkness, and things like that. So this would be advice for a very good sort of living and that’s really what you’re talking about.
Susun: That’s what I’m talking about. In the Wise Woman Tradition when I say that we heal through nourishing, part of that of course is preventative medicine.
Susun: Right. So as a wise woman, if I have the care of a hundred pregnant women and I tell them to eat these certain foods or to drink for instance, stinging nettle infusion, and they do that, build up the iron in their blood, become very healthy, and have no problem giving birth and have no hemorrhage during the birth, then basically I’ve done nothing. But if I don’t tell them that and then they have a problem or hemorrhage, then I could come in as the hero and save the day. So you don’t often see the healing that wise women do, because we do our best to stay behind the scenes and to promote such tremendous health. And this is true in so many different ways. And again as you were saying before, it’s just becoming more and more obvious to more and more people that sitting around and eating salty, oily, refined sugar, refined flour foods, is not a way to build health and that it causes actually fairly severe chronic problems down the line.
But amazingly enough what I’ve seen is that once we, you know, get people to start drinking nourishing herbal infusions, which most people really like, and to eat a whole foods diet, many of those problems seem to really change. I’ll tell you a funny story. I was teaching in Germany. I was teaching a three-week workshop for health care professionals, and I was teaching at a workshop center where I’ve taught at many times before. And the cook there is very good friends with me. And so we were talking beforehand, and I said, “Look, what I want to do is I want to serve them nourishing herbal infusion and not give them coffee or tea”. He said, “You’re gonna cause a riot.” He says, “They have to have their coffee. They have to have their tea.” I said, “We’re just, you and I, we’re going to do this as an experiment and we’re going to tell ‘em they don’t get coffee or tea for three weeks. That they drink these nourishing herbal infusions”. Well there were some complaints at the beginning, but after two or three days those died down. And about two weeks later the students in the class again who were MDs and ?? practicas and midwives and osteopaths and so on, started - without any prompting from me - talking about their minor and some of the major health problems that they had had – some of them for many, many years – which were completely gone.
Justine: What is an herbal infusion?
Susun: Good question. A nourishing herbal infusion is a very strong brew of an herb that is loaded with vitamins, minerals, proteins and often phytoestrogens. So let’s contrast infusion to tea. A tea uses a small amount of herb. An infusion uses a large amount of herb. A tea is brewed for a short amount of time. An infusion is brewed for a long amount of time. In a tea we could use a fresh herb or a dried herb, and often the preference is the fresh herb. In an infusion we want to use only the dried herb. So very simply, and again at my website there are good instructions as well as in all my books, for making an infusion, so you don’t have to run and grab a pencil here. You can just let it go in one ear and out the other. We take one ounce by weight of our dried herb, like stinging nettle, put it in a jar, pour boiling water to the top of that quart jar – so we have about four cups of boiling water – screw the lid on it and let it steep for four hours or overnight, and when we come back I’ll tell you what we do with it.
Justine: Great. I’m speaking with Susun Weed, the author of New Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way – Alternative Approaches for Women 30 to 90. And that website that she mentioned is susunweed dot com. My name is Justine Willis Toms. You’re listening to New Dimensions.
Justine: I’m speaking with Susun Weed, author of New Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way – Alternative Approaches for Women 30 to 90. And we’re talking about herbal infusions, and you were giving us a slight recipe. You said you boil it, or simmer it for how long?
Susun: We take a quart jar and put our one ounce by weight of dried herb into the quart jar and then pour boiling water over that, so in fact the herb is never really simmered or boiled itself at all. I stopped doing that because I kept burning the pan, so I took to doing it in a jar and I found that that works much better for me, and everyone else. As a matter of fact, to tell you the truth, I do this last thing at night. You know, I go in the kitchen, I measure my herb into the jar – and if you don’t have a scale and you’re buying cut and sift bulk herb it’s about one cup by volume – so you fill a quart jar about one cup with your dried herb.
Justine: And it doesn’t matter if it’s that accurate or does it?
Susun: It doesn’t matter if it’s that accurate, exactly.
Susun: But just make sure to get enough in there. People tend to --
Justine: I mean you can’t get too much – or you can?
Susun: Well you don’t wanna fill your jar up. You won’t be able to get any water in it. So you could say that that might be too much. And then I just put the teapot up to boil and I go in the bathroom and I brush my teeth. And it’s great because when the teapot whistles I should be done brushing my teeth right. It’s a good timer for how long to brush those teeth. Go back in the kitchen, turn off the fire, pour the water over the herb, put a tight lid on the jar – in other words I’m filling the jar right to the top with boiling water. So we have one ounce by weight of herb and approximately four cups of boiling water. Put a tight lid on the jar; turn off the light and go to sleep. I just let it infuse overnight. In the morning then, I strain it out, squeezing the plant material, and Maouri elders in New Zealand that I work with put it very bluntly. They say, “Don’t expect any herb to help you that you throw in the trash”. Yeah.
Justine’s eyebrows have just gone up. And most people’s do. It’s like, “Wow, we don't think about it so much here”. But they really do. They say you must take that spent herb materially and reverently give it back to the earth. And people say to me, “Can I reverently put it in my compost?” I say, “Absolutely. That counts too.” So you can reverently put it into the compost. And you don’t even have to strain it but once you have, then you will drink the resulting liquid hot, cold, you can sweeten it, you can put salt in it, you can put milk in, it you could put instant coffee in it, you could put whisky in it. Whatever you want. Whatever you don’t drink right then, refrigerate and drink up within the next 36 hours. Now let me tell you just briefly about the four herbs that I use one at a time as my favorite nourishing herbal infusions. One of the most important ones is stinging nettle. And I talk about stinging nettle in my book Healing Wise the 2nd Wise Woman Herbal. Stinging nettle is a powerhouse of nutrition. It contains lavish amounts of minerals, for instance a cup of stinging nettle infusion contains 500mg of calcium.
Justine: I mean we always associate milk with calcium.
Susun: And milk has lots of good calcium. And I find that a diet that includes calcium from both green and white sources is definitely the best. But let’s look at a study that was done in Australia. They followed 10,000 post-menopausal women for 6_ years and they found that those who took calcium supplements were twice as likely to break a bone.
Justine: Now that goes against --
Susun: Which says that the whole is only one active part. Is bone made only of calcium?
Susun: It’s made out of many, many, many minerals. And so we talk about the calcium in nettle, but in fact the nettle contains all of those other minerals that make bones healthy and strong. Calcium, especially calcium carbonate, well what’s another name for calcium carbonate? Chalk. And it makes your bones as strong as chalk.
Justine: Well that breaks pretty easily.
Susun: Indeed it does.
Justine: I know you have a reference in your book talking about it’s not whether it’s a thin bone or a thick bone.
Susun: It’s whether it’s a flexible bone.
Justine: Now we don’t think of bones as being flexible or bendable, but are you saying that they actually have an ability to be springy?
Susun: That’s exactly what I’m saying is that a bone that is springy can take an impact without breaking, and a bone that’s brittle, even if it’s thick, will break. So we’re not looking for thick bones. As a matter of fact bone density is one of the strongest indicators of breast cancer risk that we know. If we look at a hundred women and measure their bone density, those in the top 25% of bone density will have a breast cancer risk that is 400% greater than those in the lowest 25% of bone density.
Justine: What’s the correlation?
Susun: We’re not exactly sure. It may be that either the drugs or the natural hormones that are produced that make very thick bones after menopause also promote breast cancer.
Justine: Now what about women who are doing pressure kind of exercises?
Susun: That makes the bones more flexible.
Justine: Oh that makes them more flexible but not necessarily thicker?
Justine: Oh, OK.
Susun: And that’s what we want in women. Not in men, but in women. Muscle flexibility is exactly the same as bone flexibility. So as your muscles become stronger and more flexible, so do your bones become stronger and more flexible. This is one of the reasons why any kind of exercise is so critical for women. And women who exercise regularly are 70% less likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer.
Justine: I imagine that part of this is just that it flushes out the system if you work up a sweat.
Susun: Ah, the Heroic Tradition.
Justine: Oh, OK.
Susun: The Heroic Tradition wants to flush toxins out of the body and you know what Justine? Your body is not a toilet. It doesn’t need to be flushed. There are no toxins in sweat. You may sweat if you wish to but what you will lose is minerals. You lose your bones when you sweat. You’re sweating your bones right out through your pores. So it’s especially important, if you’re going to exercise to the point where you’re really copiously sweating, or if you’re having hot flashes to the point where you’re copiously sweating, that you maintain mineral balance. It’s one of the reasons why most women, even those who eat really well, will lose some bone mass during menopause because menopause itself is a time when we have enormous mineral needs.
I have you’ve noticed, pretty long strong fingernails, even though I work really actively outside. As a matter of fact I once slammed a car door on my fingernail and it didn’t break. During menopause I would look at them and they would break, even though I have a tremendous amount of minerals in my diet. It’s just difficult because interestingly enough menopause is a time when we produce more hormones than at any other time in our life. If you go to an MD and say, “Am I in menopause?” and they do a blood test, they’re going to look for elevated levels of hormones, not lowered levels of hormones. And those hormones need minerals. And if we don’t eat ‘em we’re going to take it out of our bones. So stinging nettle tremendous source of these minerals, as well as every vitamin that we need. Click here to visit Susun's menopause website, www.menopause-metamorphosis.com
WOMEN'S HEALTH:THE WISE AND NATURAL WAY
Audio tape , 1 hr.
Today, Susun Weed is one of America's foremost authorities on herbal medicine and natural approaches to women's health. Susun engages in a fascinating, candid and controversial dialogue about women's health, natural healing and the "wise woman" tradition. Susun exposes the illusion about menopause and hormones, addresses the HRT/cancer connection and shares information about bone density. She reveals her knowledge about powerful anti-cancer herbs, and how to prepare herbal infusions with reverence. (Interview hosted by Justine Toms). Topics explored in this dialogue include: seeing yourself as a hologram keeps you healthy; herbal infusions, how they fully nourish your body; and, the six steps to personal healing.
Susun Weed's complete interview is available from Ash Tree Publishing
Mail $12 to Susun Weed PO Box 64 Woodstock, NY 12498
or order online at www.wisewomanbookshop.com/
Click here to read The Wise and Natural Way...part one
Click here to read The Wise and Natural Way...part two