I sat down with bestselling author Susun Weed, one of the original pioneers of herbal medicine in this country, and author of a new book written for both genders, called Down There: Sexual and Reproductive Health, the Wise Woman Way. Here’s part of our conversation.
Why do you call herbal medicine “the people’s medicine”?
I call herbal medicine people’s medicine for several reasons: Herbs are accessible, free, simple, and safe to use, and they are the primary medicine of all the world’s indigenous peoples. Effective herbal medicines grow right by your door, in vacant lots, or in the meadow down the street. Sure, there are rare plants like ginseng, but the most common plants, like dandelion and plantain, nettles and thistles, are also effective herbal medicines.
Can you make herbal medicines at home, and is it difficult?
Creating your own herbal remedies is so easy you can learn how to do it in one day. Then you can harvest free wild plants and slash your healthcare costs. You don’t need special training to use herbs to heal wounds, bites, stings, colds, the flu, stomachache, headache, indigestion, joint pain, and a myriad of other non-life-threatening conditions. Herbal medicine is the birthright of every person. Herbal medicine is preventative medicine, too. It helps us not only regain health, but maintain it too.
How safe are herbal medicines?
Herbalists get grumpy when herbal safety is brought up, since the leading cause of death in the USA is prescription drugs that have been properly prescribed and properly taken. In general, herbal medicine is safe. It is safest when we use nourishing herbs in water bases. It is least safe when we use exotic herbs in capsules. Herbs contain numerous compounds that can harm or heal us. There are hundreds of thousands of remedies based on herbs; some of them are drug-like (such as marijuana) and some of them are considered drugs (like opium and its derivatives), some of which are totally safe to use and some of which interact with drugs. Many common foods are also powerful herbal medicines, including garlic, pomegranate, parsley, cabbage, blueberries, and pumpkin. Common spices, such as turmeric, cinnamon, caraway, and oregano are medicinal as well. It is rare that the safety of these is questioned.
What are some guidelines for using herbs effectively?
I divide herbs into four categories for safety’s sake. Nourishing herbs like nettle, oatstraw, linden, hawthorn, and red clover can be used freely, on a daily basis, brewed as infusions. Tonifying herbs like dandelion, burdock, chasteberry, and milk thistle are best used regularly, but not daily, as teas, infusions, vinegars, and tinctures. Stimulating and sedating herbs like mint, chamomile, ginger, cayenne, echinacea, and valerian are best used only as needed for short amounts of time as teas or tinctures. Potentially poisonous herbs like golden seal, poke root, and foxglove are generally used as tinctures, in tiny amounts, and briefly. There are many more examples of herbs in each category listed in each of my books.
Your new book offers natural treatment options for many common ailments men and women have “down there.” Are these meant to be alternatives or complements to conventional medicine?
The remedies collected in my new book — like those in my previous books — are meant to be alternative, complementary, and integrative. I cover the entire range of options. I do focus on herbs and homeopathy, but I include thorough discussions of the drug and surgical options available for each problem that I include. The Wise Woman Tradition seeks to nourish the wholeness of each individual. That means I am open to all ways of healing.
Talk about your healing philosophy.
I offer my readers a path called “The Six Steps of Healing,” which helps you choose the best remedies for you, for your problem, the remedies with the least side effects and the most health benefits. That is why “Do Nothing” is the first step and “Break and Enter” the last step. Here they are. Step 0: Do Nothing. Step 1: Collect information. Step 2: Engage the energy. Step 3: Nourish and tonify. Step 4: Stimulate and sedate. Step 5: Use drugs. Step 6: Break and enter. The philosophy behind my six steps to healing is that not everyone will find relief from meditation, energy healing, or lifestyle changes, but they are definitely worth trying before resorting to more severe treatments. Better yet, when you follow these steps of healing in order, then you are very well prepared to survive, and heal rapidly after, surgery if you do need it.
Learn more about Susan at her website.