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Healing Wise ...
with Susun Weed

Edible Evergreens
Greetings of joy to you all.

'Tis the season to celebrate evergreens.

Now that the deciduous trees have lost their leaves, the evergreen trees hold the day. Pines and hemlocks, firs and spruces, cedars, junipers, and balsam beckon us with their aromatic green needles. They seem to promise immortality.

Could it be more than a promise? More than a vain hope? Could the evergreens keep us ever green, that is, always young? All edible evergreens are loaded with vitamin C, a nutrient in short supply during the dark months. Before global transport of food, those who ate evergreens in the winter were at a real advantage: They certainly were healthier and they probably did live longer.

You, like I, can probably go to a nearby market any day this winter and choose from a variety of fresh fruits including strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, bananas, apples, oranges, pomegranates,* and kiwis. No excuse for any of us to be lacking in vitamin C.

But even a hundred years ago, back when good girls and boys got an orange in their Christmas stocking (and bad children got a lump of coal), vitamin C rich foods were scarce in the northern climes all winter long. Unless you knew the secret of the evergreens, that is!

So invite some pine or cedar or spruce into your life and your home this December. Harvest a bowl of cedar berries and eat one or two everyday. Make some white pine, or pinon pine, or lodge-pole pine vinegar. Put up some balsam or cedar or spruce oil. Hang an evergreen wreath on your door. (American feng shui!) Swing a jumiper swag across your mantle. Toss some evergreen needles into a pot of boiling water and make the air smell like a forest. Burn cedar to attract healing energies.

Or even buy a small evergreen tree and live with it for a while. Decorate it. Hang your wishes upon it. Hang a star on it. Breathe with it. Open your heart to green blessings.

Everyday Evergreens

Justine, Monica Jean and I went for a walk around the neighborhood looking at the evergreens. Here is what we found.


Cedar needles are flat and look like scales.

The cedar tree is loaded with berries this year. (Seems all the trees fruited heavily this year; there was a bumper crop of apples, too.) A handful of juniper or cedar berries in sauerkraut elevates that humble dish to sublimity. Or soak some of the berries in vodka overnight for a taste of homemade gin. Go easy. The resins in these berries pack a wallop.


Juniper needles are smooth little scales, like cedar, but their stems bristle with sharp needles that fight back when you try to harvest them. These juniper bushes guard the entrance to a path into the woods. Like the berries, the needles of the juniper are often blushed with a whitish bloom.


Both juniper and cedar have bluish, dark purple berries, often covered in a white bloom. I suspect the micro-organisms of the bloom (yeasts? molds? bacteria?) have a lot to do with their healing properties and so do prefer to use the bloom-iest berries for medicines.

White pine and spruce are ready to be made into remedies. How I appreciate the vibrancy of their green blessings as the wind whistles through the bare branches outside.

Monica Jean makes white pine vinegar.

Here is my granddaughter, Monica Jean Smythe, making white pine vinegar. The wind brought down a branch, and while it was still fresh, we broke off bunches of needles. The bunches included more woody stuff than I would have taken if I were harvesting from a living tree, but it made an exceptionally tasty vinegar. Stuff the jar full of pine needles.

Then add your (pasteurized) apple cider vinegar. (With or without a little help from your friends.) Technically, the vinegar is ready to use in six weeks. Practically, it can used within the week if desired.

Pine needles vinegar not only provides lots of active vitamin C, it is also a pulmonary remedy, opening the bronchia, countering colds, and keeping the sinuses in top condition.

Spruce oil

Spruce tips fill the jar, then we add olive oil and let it steep. In this case, Justine had combined shea butter and olive oil for an especially healing oil. Watch out joint pain; you have met your match.

Homemade Balsamic Vinegar

This easy vinegar is a delicious way to ingest natural vitamin C, trace minerals, and anti-infective, anti-oxidant resins. It may be made any day of the year, including in the middle of the winter.

Fill a jar to the very top with needles from your favorite pine tree.

In the Northeast, white pine is the tastiest. In the west, pinon pine tops the list. No pine is poisonous, so feel free to experiment with your local pines.

Pines have long, thin needles, not short, flat needles like poisonous yew. If you are uncertain about the pine you have in mind, make a small amount the first time. Some pines are too resinous to make tasty vinegars.

Then fill your jar with apple cider vinegar.

Put a plastic, glass, cork, or other non-metal lid on the jar.

Wait six weeks, then add to salads, soups, beans, anywhere you would use regular balsamic vinegar.

If you are particularly impatient you could start using your homemade balsamic vinegar in as little as two weeks. The longer it sits, the better it gets.

Susun Weed’s books:

Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year
Author: Susun S. Weed.
Simple, safe remedies for pregnancy, childbirth, lactation, and newborns. Includes herbs for fertility and birth control. Foreword by Jeannine Parvati Baker. 196 pages, index, illustrations.
Retails for $14.95
Order at:

Healing Wise
Author: Susun S. Weed.
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.
Retails for $21.95

NEW Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way

Author: Susun S. Weed.
The best book on menopause is now better. Completely revised with 100 new pages. All the remedies women know and trust plus hundreds of new ones. New sections on thyroid health, fibromyalgia, hairy problems, male menopause, and herbs for women taking hormones. Recommended by Susan Love MD and Christiane Northrup MD. Introduction by Juliette de Bairacli Levy. 304 pages, index, illustrations.
Retails for $22.95
For excerpts visit:

Breast Cancer? Breast Health!

Author: Susun S. Weed.
Foods, exercises, and attitudes to keep your breasts healthy. Supportive complimentary medicines to ease side-effects of surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, or tamoxifen. Foreword by Christiane Northrup, M.D. 380 pages, index, illustrations.
Retails for $21.95

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
Order at:

Abundantly Well - Seven Medicines The Complementary Integrated Medical Revolution
Publication date: December 2019
Author: Susun S. Weed
Seven Medicines build foundational health and guide you to the best health care when problems arise. Includes case studies, recipes, exentsive references and resources. Introduction by Patch Adams illustrated by Durga Yael Bernhard 352 pages, index, illustrations
Retails for $24.95
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