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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Herbal Tinctures And Infusions

Those who have known me a long time know that I had suffered from migraines for years, and stomach problems for several of those years. The migraines cleared up after my past life regression session with Trish Casimira: Past Life Regression Part 2. But I still get low-level, frustrating, headaches that are caused by any combination of the following: stress, perimenopause, sinus inflammation, allergies, and simply thinking too hard. And then there were those times that my stomach felt like battery acid was churning inside it.

My usual go-to remedy over many years involved popping Excedrins or Excedrin-Migraines, but this was not until straight Tylenol, and Advil, and whatever-ol/il proved useless. I tried various prescription drugs but they made me dizzy and nauseous and just-plain-weird. I worried about aspirin because my Ma had suffered from the same maladies as me and burned holes in her stomach from excessive aspirin use. Yes, Excedrin has aspirin in it, but I figured it wasn't as bad as the straight stuff. No doubt I was wrong. It would take 3 Excedrins at once to alleviate even a bit of pain in my head and those babies sitting in my stomach wreaked havoc.

Always on the lookout for safe alternatives to address my health issues, I was drawn to the books of Susun Weed. In particular, I got a used Amazon copy of "New Menopausal Years ~ The Wise Woman Way." I followed that up with another used copy of her, "Healing Wise." I also got out a book I already owned, "Rosemary Gladstar's Family Herbal ~ A Guide To Living Life With Energy, Health, and Vitality." EXCELLENT books, all three.

IMPORTANT NOTE: I purposely did NOT write exactly how much of anything I use (especially regarding tinctures), nor how many times I use it in a day...or week...etc. It is important that you research any herbs for their benefits and cautions before ingesting. Do your own homework, please.

Anyways, here's my regimen these days: I make an infusion of dried stinging nettle leaves, dried oatstraw, and dried raspberry leaves...all purchased at our handy-dandy Brattleboro Food Co-op. An infusion is a STRONG brew that's been steeping a lot longer than a regular cuppa tea. How long? Depends whether you're brewing leaves, roots, or whatever. For my blend, I wait at least 4 hours for steeping, but often it's overnight. Friend, Maureen, had given me this neat little teapot that has a mesh insert, perfect for lots of plant material. I fill the insert 'til full, pour boiling water over it 'til the pot is full, and get two mugs of infusion.

The benefits? Per Rosemary Gladstar...
Nettle leaves: superior tonic herb; Chinese "long life" herb...vitamin factory-rich in iron, calcium, potassium, silicon, magnesium, manganese, zinc, chromium and more; activates the metabolism by strengthening and toning the entire system; great for kid's growing pains; an excellent reproductive tonic for men or women; alleviates PMS and menopausal symptoms; strengthens weak kidneys; excellent for liver problems, allergies, and hay fever.

Oatstraw (green milky tops, seeds, stalks): among the best of the nerve tonic herbs; superior cardiac tonic; for those who are overworked, anxious, stressed; good for irritated and inflamed nerve endings; used for nervous system disorders, depression, low sexual vitality and urinary incontinence; helps for damage with myelin sheath (covers and protects nerve fibers; soothes irritation from nicotine and other chemical withdrawals; rich in silica, calcium, chromium, and magnesium.

Red Raspberry leaves: highly nourishing reproductive tonic; rich source of iron, niacin, and manganese; invaluable to treat diarrhea, helps reduce excessive menstruation.

Then there's the tinctures (also procured at the Brattleboro Food Co-op). A tincture is (according to Rosemary Gladstar): concentrated liquid extracts of herbs; very potent; taken by the dropperfu and most often diluted in warm water or juice. Most tinctures are made with alcohol (80 to 100 proof vodka, gin, or brandy) as the primary solvent or extractent, but can be made with vegetable glycerin or apple cider vinegar instead.

The tinctures I have chosen to take are as follows. Benefits as per Susun Weed:
Wild yam (from whole rhizomes): an anti-inflammatory; improves digestion; strengthens liver and gallbladder; treats nausea, lowers blood pressure; improves circulation; calms nerves; prevents incontinence; moderates hot flashes; high in cobalt, zinc, and manganese.

Dandelion (leaves, roots, flowers): rich in plant hormones; nourisher to liver; eases digestive distress; eases hot flashes; helps prevent diabetes.

Motherwort (leaves and flowering tops): eases stressed nerves; relieves anxiety; relieves faintness and severity of hot flashes; reduces water retention; eliminates menstrual cramps; strengthens heart; lifts depression; relieves congestion in respiratory passages; full of minerals and alkaloids. (caution: Do not use daily if you bleed heavily or are "easily habituated to substances that make you feel really good.")

And when I'm actually experiencing a headache, I use a combo of...
St. John's Wort (fresh flowering and budding tops): Susun Weed calls this "bottled sunshine." Sedates headaches; helps relieve SAD (seasonal affective disorder); with grief; physical pain of depression.

...and Skullcap (flowering herb): sedates headaches; relieves sensitive skin; sleep inducing, but not habit forming; eases pain of broken bones; a source of vitamin C and copper.

I'm hoping to be able to make my own herbal tinctures come summer, especially using the dandelions from our yard. My Grandpa Leopold, who was born in Austria, had it right when he would collect fresh dandy greens for salads and more. It's more than smart NOT to eradicate your weeds with poisonous chemicals.

I'm also using homeopathic meds (excellent because there are no side effects from these and they can be used in conjunction with the herbal remedies), but I'll save that discussion for a future post.

Are YOU using herbal remedies? If so, please let us know about their benefits; pro's and con's; your thoughts on them; etc. Thanks!

Oh...something funny that happened the other day...I was browsing the health-care aisles of our co-op, looking for something to help me with the aggravating nail fungus that I can't seem to completely get rid of. Apparently 25% of the population has the same problem. I've tried a variety of products, including a tea tree oil solution that ate up all the skin around my nails. Enough of that!!! Anyways, as I was looking around, an employee asked if she could help me. I told her about my problem. Talk about Spirit putting someone in front of me who would be able to help! She asked if I ever tried Black Walnut tincture? I said that no, I hadn't heard of that as a remedy. She said she used it herself and got rid of the fungus completely. Woo-hoo, what better tincture for a natural dyer who already has strong and lasting admiration for black walnut. Well, that night I put some drops on my toes. To say my toes looked gross...all brown and nasty...would be an understatement. I showed Chris and he said, "Never a dull moment with you, my New Wave gal." LOL!


  1. Looking forward to hearing of your headaches going away!

  2. Whoosh! Me, too, Patti!!! Thank you!!!!!