A Day With Susun Weed and A Group of HIV Positive
Women on the East Coast
I have been doing a herbal correspondence
course with herbalist Susun Weed. I am focusing my studies
on Immune Health, or Living Healthy With HIV. Susun was approached
by a group of HIV positive women in her area to do a presentation
on Immune Health; Susun asked me to come to her farm, in upstate
New York, to be part of this day and share what I have been
studying and learning. She also invited me to stay at her
farm and use her library. I eagerly planned my vacation around
In anticipation I sent out a letter introducing myself to
this group. I enclosed back issues of the Babes Newsletter.
On October 19th at Susun's farm I met eight women from the
Albany New York area who have a similar program to Babes.
Their name is "By Women For Women." Like Babes they
meet socially and have educational outings. They do not have
the kind of funding Babes has been able to get so there is
no central employee or office space. They work out of their
homes and do some fundraising.
Susun prepared a simple agenda focusing on basic information.
The agenda was: Infusions,
we had for lunch! As usual in any of Susun's workshops we
started with a talking stick so each woman can ask questions,
say what they want out of the day or state any needs.
sees the immune
system, the nervous system and the hormonal system as
a braid. It is important for us to maintain each of these
as they are crucial to immune health. She addressed how important
it is for us to be in a positive mind frame and to lower stress
levels. Cells are made in our body all the time, we are constantly
in regeneration, and it is vital that we express ourselves
fully in a healthy way. When we feel positive the cells are
made in this healthy vibration. This caused a lot of discussion,
questions such as, "When I'm sad is this bad for new
cells being made," Susun's answer was if you feel good
about being sad, if you are truly in your sadness and okay
with it then the vibratory level of the cells being made is
healthy. If you are not okay with how you are feeling, whether
it be sadness, anger, or any emotion, then the cells being
made pick up this negative energy. She cited scientific studies
done by Dr.
Candace Pert who was featured on the Bill Moyers special,
Healing & Mind.
An infusion is the easiest way of ingesting minerals. Minerals
are small rocks that sit inside cell walls, they have been
absorbed from the soil. Cell walls break down when the plant
is dried and when infused in the hot water for at least 4
hours osmosis happens; the minerals dissolve into the water.
So your body assimilates the minerals from this rich plant
water supplying your body with the minerals you need. An infusions
will last up to 2 days if you keep it in the refrigerator,
if you don't use up your infusion in a day you can use it
in cooking (in a soup base or to make rice).
to make an infusion:
1) take one ounce of a dried herb put it into a quart jar
2) cover it with boiling water
3) let it sit for at least four hours up to overnight.
The next day you drain it and drink it throughout the day.
Examples of herbs you can do this with are: nettles leaves
-- builds energy, rebuilds adrenals, kidneys, liver, and immune
system, also rich in carotenes, oatstraw -- balances the nervous
system if it is too nervous or too slow it will work to "rewire"
your system, blue violet leaves -- excellent for the lungs
and intestines, red clover flower and leaves -- anti cancer
and a strong blood builder, raspberry leaves -- a good hormonal
herb for women.
A question came up of whether St. John's Wort or Hypericum
could be used as an infusion. In a previous article (Using
St. John's Wort as an Anti-Viral) I talked about the best
way to use St. John's wort as a medicinal plant, either as
an oil transdermally on the skin or in a tincture form. The
infusions and vinegars are nutritional building blocks supplying
our body with minerals and fortification necessary to build
up, stay strong and protect against invasions and it could
be used this way, but to get the best medicinal properties
of St. John's Wort use it as a oil or as a tincture. Susun
brought out some of her St. John's oil to pass around. This
plant acts as an anti-viral as well as a anti-depressant.
Next she focused on making herbal vinegars. Vinegar extracts
have high amounts of minerals and trace nutrients from fresh
herbs. For example one tablespoon of a vinegar that has been
made with a fresh wild plant is equal to 300 mg calcium (same
as a glass of milk).
to make vinegars:
1) pack a jar full with fresh plant material (pick it yourself
or fresh from a friend's garden).
2) cover to top with pasteurized organic apple cider vinegar.
3) put a piece of plastic between the top and the lid, cover
and let sit for 6 weeks before using.
Wild foods and herbs you can use include: fresh springtime
nettles leaves, motherwort leaves, catnip or any of the mints,
dandelion (leaves and root), burdock root (a yang tonic -
diabetic, skin problems, cold sores), yellow dock (1), goldenrod
(Susun explained people are not allergic to goldenrod despite
popular opinion because it is insect pollinated and no one
is allergic to plants that are insect pollinated), and the
stalks of shaiitake mushrooms. A special concoction can be
made using daikon (a radish/vegetable that is a tonic for
immune system, a strengthener, and also builds resistance
to cancer), or burdock root, using half vinegar and half tamari.
Steam them mildly then add, in thirds, the steaming water,
nurtritional vinegar and tamari. You can use the vinegar tamari
liquid as well as eat the marinated vegetables.
food salad is important in Susun's life, wild greens supply
the enzymes we need. Susun claims if we eat two fresh dandelion
leaves per day we will get all the enzymes and vitamins we
need for that day. Every day she eats a salad of wild greens
with her main meal.
The salad we had for lunch included: sheep sorrel, lamb's
quarter (rich in iron, for anemia), purslane (rich in Essential
Fatty Acid's good for immune and circulatory system), garlic
mustard, mustard greens (for immune system), mint (such as
hyssop), nasturtium leaves and flowers (an immune strengthener),
and chickweed. Many of these plants can be harvested locally,
for example chickweed is abundant locally and grows through
most of the winter season, in fact it prefers the colder weather.
It is a good wild food to add to your regular salads.
Ingredients in the Immune Boosting Soup included:
Orange and lemon peel (removes
grease and is an antiseptic). Where do you get your citrus
peel? Buy organic fruit and after you eat it dry the peels
and save them. They can be dried in the oven on low, or just
sitting out, do not put in the sun or they will loose their
volatile oil which is what you want. Add the dried peel when
you cook soups and beans. They are strengthening for kidneys
and are a mild acting estrogen.
- Kelp - bullwhip kelp - Algin is a constituent of
kelp that acts like a glue; it swells up and draws to itself
radioactivity, lead, heavy metals, cadmium and carries them
out with your bowel movement. It has the quality of absorption.
Algin is in ice cream, face creams, and yogurt as a thickener.
Orange vegetables & dark green vegetables which are full
of carotenes. Carotenes are difficult to digest from raw foods.
Astragulus is a Chinese herb that is a mild
nutritive, it builds stress resistance into body. Much research
has been done on this herb and its immune building properties.
It has been specifically recommended to fight HIV. Susun put
about twelve dried sliced roots into a big pot of soup.
Shiitake mushrooms are cure all
mushrooms and have been specifically recommended to fight
Mints have antiseptic oils that counter Opportunistic Infections
and are rich in antioxidants. Examples: thyme and rosemary.
here for the Immune A-Go-Go Soup Recipe
(1) Dandelion, burdock root and yellow dock
root have starch so the vinegar will turn milky, this starch
is good for you and you should mix it into the vinegar you
use on your food.
Disclaimer: Please be advised this is a sharing of information
that is not meant to be used to replace medical treatment
and your own intuitive sense of your body and what it needs.
Please see your medical provider (Dr., Naturopath, Acupuncturist,
etc.) to follow up on suggestions.
About the author:
Tripp Weaver has her BA in Creative Writing, with an emphasis
on Poetry, and Women‚s Studies from City University
of New York (CUNY). She studied with Audre Lorde, Louise DeSalvo
and Joan Larkin. She graduated in1986 and was awarded Honorable
Mention of the 1986 Mary M. Fay Award in poetry at Hunter
College. She received her Masters from The Leadership Institute
of Seattle (LIOS) in 1992.
An AIDS Case Manager, Julene has body of
work titled "Case Walking: An AIDS Case Manager Wails
her Blues" that is dedicated to her over 100 clients
and friends who have died from AIDS. On July 26, 2003 she
performed her first performance poetry piece based on this
work combined with movement, it was titled "The Wailing
Julene is a "lay" herbalist who
has done independent study with herbalists Susun Weed, EagleSong
and Ryan Drum. She has been studying herbs since the 1980's.
For four years she wrote the monthly column,
Herbal Corner for
Network Newsletter, a peer support network for women
living with HIV and AIDS.
Julene currently studies Dangerous Writing
with Tom Spanbauer and his circle of writers, in Portland,
OR. She runs
to Write" circles that focus on movement to
evoke body-centered writing and grew out of Continuum Movement,
which she has practiced since 1988.