Wise Woman Ezine with herbalist Susun Weed
April 2008
Volume 8 Number 4

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What's Inside Wise Woman Herbal Ezine this Month...



Grandmother Speaks...
Vaginal Distress
by Susun Weed

by Susun Weed

part 1

"Don’t try to sit on your distress, dearest daughter," cautions Grandmother Growth. "It will prove to be a hot, itchy, prickly, miserable seat, I can promise you.


The Art of Charlotte Mary Zink"When you try to deny what upsets you, when you sugarcoat your rage and drug your anxieties away, when you use your sexuality to please others and never to please yourself, when you are there for everyone but ignore your own needs, when you fear for your existence and the well-being of those you care for, your vagina gets distressed too.

" And it distresses you with discharges and smells, pain and burning, dryness and inflammation. Be gentle with yourself, my darling. Be gentle with your vagina. It is not your enemy. It is your friend, reminding you to honor your womanhood, honor your body, honor your vagina.


"Sit down and eat a bowl of yogurt. Trust your vagina. Listen to it."



Step 0. Do Nothing

Do not share hot tubs, towels, or underwear with others when your vagina is itchy, inflamed, or bothered by discharge.


Step 1. Collect Information

Non-specific vaginitis and bacterial vaginosis are catch-all terms used when one particular infectious agent cannot be blamed for the inflamed or irritated state of the vagina. Perhaps more than one inherent organism is overgrowing and/or infectious organisms are present, but in sub-clinical amounts. The following remedies do help, but please be sure to be tested - available at no charge at a public health clinic - for a full range of STDs as well.

Pelvic inflammatory disease can cause vaginitis without accompanying pelvic pain. If your vaginitis lingers, anti-infective herbs may be needed.


Step 3. Nourish and Tonify

Acidify, acidify, acidify. Do I need to mention yogurt? Eat it!

Feminist health clinics say that doing vaginal clenches as part of the treatment for non-specific vaginitis helps women get better much more rapidly.


Step 4. Stimulate/Sedate

Acupuncture, following a Five-Element diagnosis, has proven helpful for some women with chronic non-specific vaginitis.

A sitz bath made by combining one quart of oak bark infusion and one quart of berberine-rich plant (your choice of Berberis, Hydrastis, or Mahonia) has been a faithful ally for generations of women with chronic vaginitis. This sitz bath (or finger bath, if you prefer) does it all: acidifies the vagina, kills a wide variety of unwanted infectious organisms, tones tissues, eases pain, counters inflammation, and makes down there feel more like smiling.


Step 5. Use Drugs

Use of contraceptive sponges can lead to vaginitis and other infections if left in the vagina too long.

Rina Nissim’s clinic in Geneva cultures vaginal discharges of women with non-specific vaginitis and then tests essential oils against the cultures. "Not only different oils, but different batches of oils have different abilities against different organisms. This way we can find the oil that’s most effective for this woman at this time."

If you can’t get your local clinic to test essential oils on your cultures, this formula may help. Combine equal amounts of lavender, cypress, and hyssop essential oils, 3 drops diluted in 2 ounces of almond or olive oil, or in 2 cups water for a finger bath.



Step 1. Collect Information

The vulvovaginal or vestibular glands are on either side of the entrance to the vagina. Once thought to produce lubrication for intercourse, these small glands - like the veriform appendix - are now believed to have no discernable function.

Nonetheless, cysts and abscesses can occur in the vestibular glands, swelling them from their usual lima bean size to the bulk and rigidity of a walnut. And that can make your vagina very uncomfortable indeed.

Cysts or infections in the vestibular glands rarely spread or cause any damage.


Step 2. Engage the Energy

Homeopathic remedy for women with vestibular gland cysts.

How is the cyst your ally of health? Is there something entering or trying to enter your vagina that you need protection against?


Step 3. Nourish and Tonify

Nourishing herbal infusion of either oatstraw or red clover can help normalize hormones, thus calming vestibular gland distress.


Step 4. Stimulate/Sedate

Cysts in the Bartholin glands usually resolve after a few hot sitz baths, or hot herbal compresses, using:

Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) root infusion or
Selfheal (Prunella vulgaris) herb infusion or
Slippery elm (Ulmus fulva) bark powder or
Oak (Quercus) bark infusion or powder.

Comfrey leaf or comfrey root, applied directly to the cyst, is everyone’s favorite remedy. The slippery constituents of the comfrey ease swelling and relieve pain, soften skin, and dissolve cysts, while the astringent constituents tone and strengthen tissues. To make a comfrey leaf compress, boil fresh comfrey leaves until soft; fold, hot, into a thin towel (linen if possible), and apply to the cyst. If too hot, cool before applying. More compressing is preferable to long compressing.

If you don’t have fresh comfrey, just make an infusion of dried comfrey leaves or roots and use the wet plant matter leftover after you strain off the infusion as a compress, after heating it in some of the infusion.

Infections or abscesses in the vulvovaginal glands respond well to frequent (8-12 times daily) large doses (2-3 dropperfuls) of echinacea (Echinacea augustifolia) root tincture, with a drop or two of poke (Phytolacca americana) root tincture added if the infected site is very hot. In areas where it is prevalent, usnea (Usnea barbarata) tincture is also highly regarded as an anti-infective. And, of course, the root tincture of goldenseal and other berberine-rich plants is a standby against all vaginal infections.


Step 5. Use Drugs

Modern scientific medicine relies on antibiotics to clear infection. But taking them can give you a yeast overgrowth. Herbs won’t.


Step 6. Break and Enter

An MD can lance your abscess to relieve the pressure. Hot sitz baths work as well, with less risk, according to the Federation of Feminist Women’s Health Centers.

The Art of Charlotte Mary ZinkHER STORY
Frances was an actress who was always touring. She had an apartment, but was never at home. For five years she was bothered by frequent painful cysts in her Bartholin glands, or so she was told. She visited doctor after doctor in town after town. She took antibiotics; she was lanced. Nothing seemed to relieve the pain or swelling for very long.

"Perhaps my story would have had a different ending if I had had consistent medical care, or if I had actively cared for myself with alternative medicines, but I never saw the same doctor twice, and I left my health in their hands. I never even looked in the mirror to see what was up down there," she told me when we talked. Her vaginal cancer was quite advanced when it was finally diagnosed. She died within the year.


Vaginal ulcers are rare. Symptoms include slight persistent bleeding and pain, especially with intercourse. Some women have sensitive vaginal tissues that are torn easily by tampons, diaphragms, and intercourse. Sometimes these sensitive tissues break down when an infection is present. And sometimes there is an ulcer because there is an underlying tumor.

If you could be a DES daughter, granddaughter or great granddaughter, seek help before treating yourself for a vaginal ulcer. Everyone else can use astringent herbs in sitz baths to heal and toughen those tissues.


Step 1. Collect Information

Although vaginal cancer is extremely rare (except for women whose mother or grandmother took diethylstilbestrol - DES - only five women per million will have it), it does kill. If you think there is something growing in your vagina, especially if you are postmenopausal, seek experienced advice.

One out of one thousand DES daughters will be diagnosed with vaginal cancer, usually a very aggressive form, and often before the age of 20. Risk does diminish with age, but never falls to zero. DES daughters require special Pap smears that include cells from the vagina to keep an eye on vaginal health.

If your mother, or even your grandmother, took DES, tell your daughter. When mice were given DES, tumors showed up in the reproductive tracts of some members of the third generation.


Step 2. Engage the Energy

Homeopathic nosods are specifically formulated to help break genetic patterns. Homeopathic diethylstilbestrol is thought to reverse the genetic damage that leads to cancer.


Step 3. Nourish and Tonify

Regular use of red clover infusion helps prevent cancer, especially ones triggered by hormones. A quart or more a week is good insurance for all women; DES daughters may wish to drink even more. I like mine with a hint of mint.

Burdock root, cooked in food, or drunk as an infusion, even taken in tincture form, helps prevent and eliminate cancer. It is a mainstay of macrobiotic diets and a proven ally for DES daughters. Those I know who use it regularly remain cancer-free.


Step 6. Break and Enter

Investigate laser surgery, cryosurgery, radiation treatments, topical chemotherapy, and light therapy before settling on standard surgery; remember every woman and every cancer is unique.



• "Vaginitis," Harvard Medical School Health Letter, March, 1984
• "I was a DES baby," Health, 1999
• "DES may be forgotten, but it’s not gone," Health News, May 2003
The Complete Guide to Herbal Medicines, Charles Fetrow & Juan Avila, Pocketbooks, 2000
Homeopathic Medicine for Women, Trevor Smith MD, Healing Arts, 1989
How to Stay Out of the Gynecologist’s Office, Women to Women Publications, 1986
Natural Choices for Women’s Health, Dr. Laurie Steelsmith, Three Rivers Press, 2005
The No Hysterectomy Option, Herbert Goldfarb MD, Wiley, 1990
The Wisdom of Menopause, Christiane Northrup MD, Bantam, 2001
Before You Call the Doctor, Anne Simons MD, Bobbie Hasselbring, & Michael Castleman, Fawcett Columbine, 1992

Susun Weed
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Woodstock, NY 12498
Fax: 1-845-246-8081

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For permission to reprint this article, contact us at: susunweed@herbshealing.com

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. Learn more at www.susunweed.com

Down There: Sexual and Reproductive Health the Wise Woman Way

Publication date: June 21, 2011

Author: Susun S. Weed
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Susun Weed’s books:

Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year
Author: Susun S. Weed.
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Healing Wise
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Superb herbal in the feminine-intuitive mode. Complete instructions for using common plants for food, beauty, medicine, and longevity. Introduction by Jean Houston. 312 pages, index, illustrations.
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Down There: Sexual and Reproductive Health the Wise Woman Way
Publication date: June 21, 2011
Author: Susun S. Weed
Simple, successful, strategies cover the entire range of options -- from mainstream to radical -- to help you choose the best, and the safest, ways to optimize sexual and reproductive health. Foreword: Aviva Romm, MD, midwife, 484 pages, Index, illustrations.
Retails for $29.95
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Abundantly Well - Seven Medicines The Complementary Integrated Medical Revolution
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