Your Own Herbal Expert - Part 2
an article by Susun S. Weed
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.
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.
this lesson, we will learn how to make effective
water-based herbal remedies and talk more about
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.
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.
rich in volatile oils - such as ginger, chamomile,
cinnamon, catnip, mint, lemon balm, lemon grass,
lavender, bergamot, and fennel, anise, and cumin
seeds - 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.
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.Infusion for Me!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.)
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.
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.
trouble finding herbs in bulk at your local health
food store? Try ordering online:
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
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.
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.
UpIn 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.
Experiment Number One
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.
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
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
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.Further Study
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
Choose a green ally to focus on this year.
Read Healing Power of Minerals by Paul Bergner.
Read about stinging nettle and oatstraw in my book
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.
If you want to be your own herbal expert then you
may want to start a correspondence course! See www.susunweed.com for information on courses available.
This is part 2 in an 8 part series by Susun S. Weed. Part 1 | Part 2 | Part
3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part
6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | *
Disclaimer: This content is not intended
to replace conventional 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 a 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. Contact a reputable
healthcare practitioner if you are in need of medical
care. Exercise self-empowerment by seeking a second
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Susun Weed at: www.susunweed.com and www.ashtreepublishing.com
For permission to reprint this article, contact
and involved, Susun Weed has garnered an international
reputation for her groundbreaking lectures, teachings,
and writings on health and nutrition. She challenges
conventional medical approaches with humor, insight,
and her vast encyclopedic knowledge of herbal medicine.
Unabashedly pro-woman, her animated and enthusiastic
lectures are engaging and often profoundly provocative.
Susun is one
of America's best-known authorities on herbal medicine
and natural approaches to women's health. Her four
best-selling books are recommended by expert herbalists
and well-known physicians and are used and cherished
by millions of women around the world. Learn more
article is © copyright Susun
S. Weed 2006 - Republished here with kind permission.