Breast Cancer? Breast Health!
The Wise Woman Way

by Susun S. Weed
Paperback - 380 pages
Published by Ash Tree Publishing
Visit Breast Cancer? Breast Health in our Bookshop



Using Herbs Safely

Excerpt from Breast Cancer? Breast Health!
by Susun Weed

Plants feed us, clothe us, house us, heal us, and can help us keep our breasts healthy, yet they can harm or kill us. Here's how to use them safely.

When you buy herbs, check that they are labeled with the botanical name (e.g., Trifolium pratense). Common names for plants often refer to several plants; botanical names are specific to one plant. "Marigold" refers to two plants with different uses.Calendula officinalis, or pot marigold, is a medicinal herb; Tagetes is the marigold usually sold for flower borders.

Learn about the weeds of your doorstep. Become more aware of the vitality and abundance of Nature. Eat or use as a remedy one wild plant that grows near you this year. When you make your own medicines and healing foods, you control one of the major ways you can come to harm from using herbs: mistaken identity (or right label, wrong herb). Not that you can't make mistakes, but you're more likely to catch your own mistake than someone else's. When you make your own medicines and healing foods, they are fresh, full of energy, and in tune with you and your environment. Making your own herbal remedies is simple and fun; directions begin on page 293.

The results and safety of any remedy are dependent on the way it is prepared and used. Notice that I prefer infused herbal oils (not essential oils) and powerful herbal infusions (not herbal teas).

Different people can have different reactions to the same substance, whether drug, food, or herb. If you take lots of herbs mixed together and have distressing side effects, how can you know which one is the cause? For safety, I use one herb (sometimes two, and only rarely three) at a time. Limiting the number of herbs I use in one day helps me discern my response to the plant allies I've chosen. If I have an adverse reaction, I can tell which herb caused it, avoid that herb, and try other herbs with similiar properties.

Side effects from herbs are less common than side effects from drugs and usually less severe. If an herb disturbs your digestion, it may be that your body is learning to process it. Give it a few more tries before deciding it's not for you. An herb that really doesn't agree with you may cause nausea, dizziness, sharp stomach pains, diarrhea, headache, or blurred vision, and these effects will generally occur quite quickly. Stop taking the herb or reduce the dose dramatically. Slippery elm is an excellent antidote to poisons; see Materia Medica.

When a dosage range is given, start with the smallest recommended dose and increase as needed. Note: 25 drops is 1 ml.

Respect the power of plants to change the body and spirit in dramatic ways, even when taken in minute doses.

Increase your trust in the healing effectiveness of plants by trying remedies for minor or external problems (side effects of orthodox cancer treatments, for instance) before, or while, working with your major and internal problems.

Gather-in person or in books-with others interested in herbal, homeopathic, and home remedies. Call on them as well as professionals when you feel uncertain. Develop ongoing relationships with knowledgeable healers who are as interested in helping you maintain health as in helping you cure problems.

Respect the uniqueness of every plant, every person, every situation.

Remember that you become whole and healed in your own unique way, at your own speed. People, plants, and animals can help in this process. But your body/spirit does the healing/wholing. Don't expect plants to be cure-alls.

If you are allergic to any foods or medicines, it is especially important to check out the side effects of any herb you are considering using.
Herbs comprise a group of several thousand plants with widely varying actions. Some are nourishers, some tonifiers, some stimulants and sedatives, and some are potential poisons. To use them wisely and well, we need to understand each category, its uses, best manner of preparation, and usual dosage range.

Nourishers are the safest of all herbs; side effects are rare. Nourishing herbs are taken in any quantity for any length of time. They are used as foods, just like spinach and kale. Nourishers provide high levels of anti-cancer vitamins, minerals (especially selenium), antioxidants, carotenes, and essential fatty acids.

Nourishing herbs in Breast Cancer? Breast Health! include: alfalfa herb, amaranth, astragalus root, calendula flowers, chickweed, comfrey leaves, dandelion herb, fenugreek, flax seeds, honeysuckle flowers, lamb's quarter, marshmallow root, nettle herb, oatstraw, plantain leaves and seeds, purslane herb, raspberry leaves, red clover blossoms, seaweeds (kelp), Siberian ginseng, slippery elm bark, violet leaves, and wild and exotic mushrooms.

Tonifiers act slowly in the body and have a cumulative, rather than immediate, effect. They build the functional ability of an organ (like the liver) or a system (like the immune system). Tonifying herbs are most beneficial when they are used in small quantities for extended periods of time. The more bitter the tonic tastes, the less you need to take. Bland tonics may be used in quantity, like nourishing herbs. Side effects occassionally occur with tonics, but are usually quite short-term. Many older herbals mistakenly equated stimulating herbs with tonifying herbs, leading to widespread misuse of many herbs, and severe side effects.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, potentially poisonous herbs are used as tonics by women at high risk of developing breast cancer. (The herbs are taken daily, for one week only out of every six months.)

Tonifying herbs in Breast Cancer? Breast Health! include: barberry bark, burdock root, chaga, chaste tree berries, cronewort (mugwort), dandelion root, echinacea root, elecampane root, fennel seeds, garlic, ginkgo leaves, ginseng root, ground ivy, hawthorn berries, horsetail herb, lady's mantle herb, lemon balm herb, milk thistle seeds, motherwort herb, mullein leaves, parsley herb, pau d'arco, peony root, raspberry herb, red-root, schisandra berries, self-heal herb, sundew herb, St. Joan's wort, turmeric root, usnea herb, wild yam root, and yellow dock root.

Sedatives and stimulants cause a variety of rapid reactions, some of which may be unwanted. Some parts of the person may be stressed in order to help other parts. Strong sedatives and stimulants, whether herbs or drugs, push us outside our normal ranges of activity and may cause strong side effects. If we rely on them and then try to function without them, we wind up more agitated (or depressed) than before we began. Habitual use of strong sedatives and stimulants-whether opium, rhubarb root, cayenne, or coffee-leads to loss of tone, impairment of functioning, and even physical dependency. The stronger the herb, the more moderate the dose needs to be, and the shorter the duration of its use.

Herbs that tonify and nourish while sedating/stimulating-especially oatstraw, motherwort, and peppermint-are among my favorite herbs. I use them freely as they do not cause dependency.
Sedating/stimulating herbs that also tonify or nourish are used frequently in Breast Cancer? Breast Health! including: boneset flowers, catnip, citrus peel, cleavers, ginger, hops, lavender, marjoram, motherwort, passion flower herb, many mints (e.g., lavender, rosemary, sage, and skullcap herbs), and sheep sorrel.

Strong sedating/stimulating herbs used in this book include: angelica, bayberry, blessed thistle root, cancerweed, cinnamom, cloves, licorice root, marijuana, oak, osha root, passion flower herb, shepherd's purse, sweet woodruff, turkey rhubarb root, uva ursu leaves, valerian root, Venus's flytrap, wild lettuce sap, willow bark, and wintergreen leaves.

Potentially poisonous herbs are potent medicines. They activate intense effort on the part of the body and spirit. Potentially poisonous herbs are taken in tiny amounts and only for as long as needed. Unexpected side effects are common when potentially poisonous herbs are used without regard for their power. To increase your sense of security when contemplating the use of a potentially poisonous herb, consult other herbal references and several experienced herbalists.
Potentially poisonous herbs in Breast Cancer? Breast Health! include: arbor vitae, arnica, autumn crocus root, belladonna, blood-root, celandine, chaparral, comfrey root (not leaf), foxglove, goldenseal root, henbane, iris root, Jimson weed, lobelia, May apple (American mandrake) root, mistletoe, poke, poison hemlock, stillingia root, turkey corn root, wild cucumber root.

Green blessings.

Excerpt from Breast Cancer? Breast Health!
by Susun Weed



NOTE: close this window to simply return to where you came from



ASH TREE PUBLISHING
Women's Health, Women's Spirituality
P.O. Box 64, Woodstock, NY 12498 USA

Phone/Fax 1-845-246-8081

Shop online at the Wise Woman bookstore:
http://www.ashtreepublishing.com/
Books you'll Treasure ~ Information you can Trust


HOME / ORDER / CONTACT US / HERBAL EZINE