Your Own Herbal Expert - Part 5
an article by Susun S. Weed
medicine is the medicine of the people. It is simple,
safe, effective, and free. Our ancestors used -
and our neighbors around the world still use - plant
medicines for healing and health maintenance. It's
easy. You can do it too, and you don't need a degree
or any special training. Ancient memories arise
in you when you begin to use herbal medicine - memories
which keep you safe and fill you with delight. These
lessons are designed to nourish and activate your
inner herbalist so you can be your own herbal expert.
In our first session, we learned how to "listen"
to the messages of plant's tastes. In session two,
we learned about simples and how to make effective
water-based herbal remedies. The third session helped
us distinguish safe nourishing and tonifying herbs
from the more dangerous stimulating and sedating
herbs. Our fourth session focused on poisons in
herbs and herbal tinctures, which we made and then
collected into an Herbal Medicine Chest.
In this, our fifth session, we will find out how
to help ourselves and our families with herbal vinegars,
one of the green blessings of the Wise Woman Way.
Why Use Herbal Vinegars?
Herbal vinegars are an unstoppable combination:
they marry the healing and nutritional properties
of apple cider vinegar with the mineral and antioxidant
richness of health-protective green herbs and wild
roots. Herbal vinegars are tasty medicine, enriching
and enlivening our food while building health from
the inside out.
Herbal vinegars are far better for the bones and
the heart than soy beverages. They have a reputation
for banishing grey hair and wrinkles. Sprayed in
the armpits, herbal vinegars are highly effective
deodorants. As a hair rinse (try rosemary or lavender
vinegar) they add luster and eliminate split ends.
Anything vinegar can do, including clean the kitchen,
herbal vinegars can do better.
Vinegars Seek Minerals
Minerals are important for the health and proper
functioning of our bones, our heart and blood vessels,
our nerves, our brain (especially memory), our immune
system, and our hormonal glands. No wonder lack
of minerals can lead to chronic problems and getting
more can make a big difference in health in a few
weeks. One of the best ways to get more minerals
- besides drinking nourishing herbal infusions and
eating well-cooked leafy greens - is to use herbal
Vinegar & Your Bones
It is not true that ingesting vinegar will erode
your bones. Adding vinegar to your food actually
helps build bones because it frees up minerals from
the vegetables you eat and increases the ability
of the stomach to digest minerals. Adding a splash
of vinegar to cooked greens is a classic trick of
old ladies who want to be spry and flexible when
they're ancient old ladies. (Maybe your granny already
taught you this?) In fact, a spoonful of vinegar
on your broccoli or kale or dandelion greens increases
the calcium you get by one-third. All by itself,
apple cider vinegar is said to help build bones;
when enriched with minerals from herbs, I think
of it as better than calcium pills.
Vinegar & Candida
Some people worry that eating vinegar will upset
the balance of gut flora and contribute to an overgrowth
of candida yeast in the intestines. Some people
have been told to avoid vinegar altogether. My experience
has led me to believe that herbal vinegars help
heal those with candida overgrowth, perhaps because
they're so mineral rich. I've worked with women
who have suffered for years and kept to a strict
"anti-candida" diet with little improvement,
and seen them get better fast when they add nourishing
herbal vinegars (and fermented foods such as sauerkraut,
miso, and yogurt) to their diets.
Making Herbal Vinegars
Fill any size jar with fresh-cut aromatic herbs:
leaves, stalks, flowers, fruits, roots, and even
nuts can be used. For best results and highest mineral
content, be sure the jar is well filled and chop
the herb finely.
Pour room-temperature vinegar into the jar until
it is full. Cover jar: A plastic screw-on lid, several
layers of plastic or wax paper held on with a rubber
band, or a cork are the best covers. Avoid metal
lids - or protect them well with plastic - as vinegar
will corrode them.
Label the jar with the name of the herb and the
date. Put it some place away from direct sunlight,
though it doesn't have to be in the dark, and someplace
that isn't too hot, but not too cold either. A kitchen
cupboard is fine, but choose one that you open a
lot so you remember to use your vinegar, which will
be ready in six weeks.
You can decant your vinegar into a beautiful serving
container, or use it right from the jar you made
I use regular pasteurized apple cider vinegar from
the supermarket as the menstrum for my herbal vinegars.
I avoid white vinegar. Malt vinegar, rice vinegar,
and wine vinegar can be used but they are more expensive
and may overpower the flavor of the herbs.
Apple cider vinegar has been used as a health-giving
agent for centuries. Hippocrates, father of medicine,
is said to have used only two remedies: honey and
apple cider vinegar. Some of the many benefits of
apple cider vinegar include: better digestion, reduction
of cholesterol, improvements in blood pressure,
prevention/care of osteoporosis, normalization of
thyroid/metabolic functioning, possible reduction
of cancer risk, and lessening of wrinkles and grey
Notes for Herbal Vinegar Makers
Collect jars of different sizes for your
vinegars. I especially like baby food jars, mustard
jars, olive jars, peanut butter jars and individual
juice jars. Look for plastic lids.
The wider the mouth of the jar, the easier
it will be to remove the plant material when you're
Always fill jar to the top with plant material
and vinegar; never fill a jar only part way.
Really fill the jar. This will take far more
herb or root than you would think. How much? With
leaves and stems, make a comfortable mattress for
a fairy: not too tight; not too loose. With roots,
fill your jar to within a thumb's width of the top.
After decanting your vinegar into a beautiful
jar, add a spring of whole herb. Pretty.
My Favorite Herbal Vinegar
Pick the needles of white pine on a sunny day. Make
herbal vinegar with them. Inhale deeply the scent
of the forest. I call this my "homemade balsamic
Using Your Vinegars
Herbal vinegars taste so good, you'll want to use
them frequently. Regular use boosts the nutrient
level of your diet with very little effort and virtually
Pour a spoonful or more on beans and grains
as a condiment.
Use them in salad dressings.
Add them to cooked greens.
Season stir-fries with them.
Look for soups that are vinegar friendly,
Substitute herbal vinegar for plain vinegar
in any recipe.
Put a big spoonful in a glass of water and
drink it. Try it sweetened with blackstrap molasses
for a real mineral jolt. Many older women swear
this "coffee substitute" prevents and
eases their arthritic pains.
our next sessions we will learn more about herbal
medicine making, with a focus on oils, explore the
difference between fixing disease and promoting
health, learn how to apply the three traditions
of healing, and how to take charge of our own health
care with the six steps of healing.
vinegar's ability to absorb minerals. Put a fresh
bone in a jar and completely cover it with vinegar.
What happens? Does the bone become pliable and rubbery?
How long does it take? Will eating vinegar dissolve
your bones? Only if you take off your skin and sit
in it for weeks!
eggshell vinegar. Fill a jar one-quarter full of
vinegar. Drop crushed eggshell into it. What happens?
Does the vinegar foam? How long does it take? Eggshells
are exceptionally rich in bone-building minerals.
Can you taste the calcium in this vinegar? Add some
eggshell to your other vinegars if you wish to increase
their ability to keep your bones strong.
four or more vinegars with the same plant, using
different types of vinegar, including both pasteurized
and unpasteurized apple cider vinegar. (For the
others, use rice vinegar, malt vinegar, wine vinegar,
or even white vinegar, but not umeboshi vinegar.)
Taste your vinegars daily for a week, then weekly
for five more weeks. You may, if you wish, decant
some of your vinegars for use after six weeks. But
you may also wish to keep observing them as they
age (for years, if you wish). I have some vinegars
which are more than thirty years old and still in
good shape. Note which stay edible the longest,
and what happens to those that become inedible.
a quart or more of unpasteurized apple cider vinegar.
Use two cups to make several small herbal vinegars:
one with roots, one with leaves, and one with flowers.
Boil the other two cups. Make one herbal vinegar
with the boiling hot vinegar. Make another with
the boiled vinegar after it has cooled. Continue
as in experiment number three.
Redo experiment number two using different kinds
of eggshells - white ones and brown ones, store-bought
and farm-bought, from caged birds and free-range
birds. Can you see any differences? Taste or smell
2. Make vinegars at different times of the year
and compare them.
Unpasteurized vinegar can form a "mother."
In a jar filled with herb and vinegar, the vinegar
mother usually grows across the top of the herb,
and looking rather like a damp, thin pancake. Kombucha
is a vinegar mother. Does your local health food
store sell mothers? Kombucha? What is a vinegar
mother? Is it harmful?
What is an ionic form of a mineral?
What is a mineral salt?
How do our bodies take up and utilize minerals?
Plants That Make Exceptionally Good-Tasting Herbal
mint (Mentha sp.) leaves, stalks
Bee balm (Monarda didyma) flowers, leaves, stalks
Bergamot (Monarda sp.) flowers, leaves, stalks
Burdock (Arctium lappa) roots
Catnip (Nepeta cataria) leaves, stalks
Chicory (Cichorium intybus) leaves, roots
Chives and especially chive blossoms
Dandelion (Taraxacum off.) flower buds, leaves,
Dill (Anethum graveolens) herb, seeds
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) herb, seeds
Garlic (Allium sativum) bulbs, greens, flowers
Garlic mustard (Alliaria officinalis) leaves and
Goldenrod (Solidago sp.) flowers
Ginger (Zingiber off.) and Wild ginger (Asarum canadensis)
Lavender (Lavendula sp.) flowers, leaves
Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) new growth leaves and
Orange mint (Mentha sp.) leaves, stalks
Orange peel, organic only
Peppermint (Mentha piperata and etc.) leaves, stalks
Perilla (Shiso) (Agastache) leaves, stalks
Rosemary (Rosmarinus off.) leaves, stalks
Spearmint (Mentha spicata) leaves, stalks
Thyme (Thymus sp.) leaves, stalks
White pine (Pinus strobus) needles
Yarrow (Achilllea millifolium) flowers and leaves
Herbal Calcium Supplement
one or more of the following plants to make an herbal
vinegar that can reverse and counter osteoporosis.
Dose is 2-4 tablespoons daily.
(Amaranthus retroflexus) leaves
Chickweed (Stellaria media) whole herb
Comfrey (Symphytum officinalis) leaves
Cronewort/Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) young leaves
Dandelion (Taraxacum off.) leaves and root
Lambsquarter (Chenopodium album) leaves
Mallow (Malva neglecta) leaves
Mint leaves of all sorts, especially sage, motherwort,
lemon balm, lavender, peppermint
Nettle (Urtica dioica) leaves
Parsley (Petroselinum sativum) leaves
Plantain (Plantago majus) leaves
Raspberry (Rubus species) leaves
Red clover (Trifolium pratense) blossoms
Violet (Viola odorata) leaves
Yellow dock (Rumex crispus and other species) roots
Vinegars Where You Eat the Pickled Plants Too
This is part 5 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
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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.