by Susun S. Weed - Author and voice of the Wise Woman Way
Wise women through the centuries have kept themselves and their families safe from contagious diseases. If we are actively dealing with infection, especially lung infections, these three powerful roots stand ready to help us: elecampane, echinacea, and poke.
Elecampane (Inula helenium) is a beautiful sunflower-like perennial found in wet pastures or easily cultivated in a sunny garden spot. The roots are dug in the fall after the plants are established (at least three years) and tinctured in 100 proof vodka for six weeks. Do not use elecampane in capsules.
I find elecampane root amazingly powerful in clearing all infections from the lungs. The usual dose is 10-15 drops several times a day, but I would increase the dose and take it as much as 6 times a day in an acute situation. I expect to see results from using elecampane within a day or less.
I would only take elecampane if I had an active infection. It has little protective value. To protect the lungs, use mullein and organic whole milk.
Echinacea (Echinacea augustifolia) is a well-known anti-infective. Like elecampane, it is not considered safe to take echinacea as a preventative. It is reserved for time when there is active infection.
Echinacea root tincture is a powerful ally to the white blood cells, helping them enormously in their efforts to counter bacterial infections. I have personally seen it clear infections that even triple antibiotic therapies had left untouched, including bacterial pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections, strep throat, mastitis, and blood poisoning. I have had no occasion to work with someone with SARS, but I have no doubt but that echinacea would be helpful. I have interfaced echinacea with antibacterial drugs and antibiotics with excellent results. Echinacea also works marvelously well in combination with elecampane root or with poke root. I have never used the three of them together.
A dose of echinacea root tincture is 1 drop for every 2 pounds of body weight. I take it as frequently as every hour or two in the acute phase of an infection, and increase the time between doses slowly until they are eight hours apart.
Because I use such a large dose of echinacea root tincture, I get spectacular results. But to be able to use so much, you need to have a lot of the tincture on hand. It is expensive to buy, running $8-10 per ounce. Large bottles of 4-8 ounces bring the price down to $6-8 an ounce. But you can make your own for $1-2 dollars an ounce.
To make a quart of echinacea root tincture:
1. Buy 4 ounces of dried Echinacea augustifolia root. Be sure to get this kind.
2. Put it in a quart jar and fill the jar to the top with 100 proof vodka. Be sure to get this proof even though it is more expensive than regular vodka.
3. Cap tightly and label.
4. Shake daily for the first week, then weekly for at least eight weeks. I like to let mine sit for a year before I use it, but you can use it after six weeks if necessary. Do not use echinacea in capsules.
Poke (Phytolacca americana) is also a beautiful perennial. The root tincture is powerful to the point of being considered poisonous.
I always travel with a bottle of poke root tincture. I think of it as insurance - on the off chance that I may be exposed in my travels to some new and potentially deadly bug. Had I been in Beijing when SARS broke out, I would have taken it.
I would not take poke as a precaution; it is far too strong to be used that way. Only if I knew that I was likely to have been exposed to the pathogen would I use it (one drop twice a day; if I felt symptoms, I would increase to four times a day or more, as seemed reasonable at the time).
You may find it hard to buy poke root tincture. (Red Moon Herbs usually has it available.) It is rightly feared. But the plant is widespread and easy to recognize with its magenta stem and racemes of white flowers and dark purple berries, so you can make your own if you live where it grows.
I dig only one poke root every decade or so, for the dose I use is minuscule. I choose a root that is at least three years old (the standard for digging any perennial root), rinse the soil from it, chop it coarsely, and tincture it for a minimum of six weeks in 100 proof vodka. (No, 80 proof won’t work. And, yes, it must be a fresh root, as drying seems to remove the active properties.)
When I need poke root tincture to kick my immune system into high gear, I take a dose of one drop - yes, only one drop - once or twice a day. Poke root tincture contains compounds that can harm the kidneys if it is taken continuously. I reserve its use for emergencies and do not consider it especially helpful to the immune system.
Isn’t it well named? It pokes the immune system and speeds up pokey lymphatic drainage. I have known a single drop to reverse chronic infections that have simmered for years, getting more and more resistant to drugs. Of course, poke root tincture, is used by those with cancer, sometimes with astonishing results. (See Breast Cancer? Breast Health! the Wise Woman Way for lots more information on using poke to counter cancer.)
For severe infections, such as SARS, the dose of poke root tincture may be larger, but build up gradually over a period of days. In extreme situations, an individual may be able to use doses of 15 drops a day. I know of some instances where doses of 30 drops a day were used, but this usually creates unwelcome side effects.
Never use poke root in water and never take capsules of poke root. You could be poisoned.
I keep all three of these strong roots in my medicine cupboard. I feel safe and reassured knowing that I am ready to counter infection and boost my immune system at a moment’s notice.
Herbs may seem insignificant in the face of the troubles in our nation and in the world, but using green allies to maintain and regain health is a big step toward healthy independence and - I believe - a step toward peace. Instead of making war on weeds like poke, I love them. Instead of making war on nature, I take her as a guide. Instead of making war on myself when I have an injury or illness, a problem or a pain, I nourish myself toward ever greater health, ever greater peace.
About the author
Vibrant, passionate, 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.
Visit her site http://www.susunwee d.com for information on her workshops, apprenticeships, correspondence courses and more! Browse the publishing site http://www.ashtreep ublishing. com to learn more about her alternative health books. Venture into the NEW Menopause site http://www.menopaus e-metamorphosis. com to learn all about the Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way. Email Susun Weed at susunweed@hvc. rr.com, write to PO Box 64, Woodstock, NY 12498 or call 845-246-8081.
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