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Healing Wise ...
with Susun Weed

Joyous Solstice Greetings! / Sonora Weed Walk

May your holidays be bright and filled with joyous friends and loving .

I am experiencing the joy of visiting with one of my oldest friends – Betsy Grace. We have been friends for nearly fifty years now, having met in our early twenties. She and I have seen each other through many life changes. One of the stories from her life is in my Breast Book.

Every morning we go for long walks in the neighborhood and desert. Tonight the mountains flamed red in the sunset as we chanted together lighting the Chanukah candles.

I packed for hot weather in Tucson but have been wearing my only long-sleeved shirt every day. It is cold and rainy at times, with light frost almost every night since I arrived. Most of the plants don't seem to mind though. The roses have hips, buds, and flowers on them and are beautiful in their holiday dresses of red, pink, and yellow.

My time here in Arizona has been enhanced by other friends in the green. Pam Hyde-Nakai – a friend for a decade or more – stopped by and we discussed some rather esoteric plant and animal lore. Donna Chesner – a new friend in the green – took me on a plant walk in Catalina State Park, where we found canaigra and lots of fine cacti. Please join me for walks with these three friends, and meet some old and new plant friends.

Whether your home is north or south, east or west, I wish you bright blessings. The longest night has passed. The light returns. Light a candle. Sing praise.
Green blessings are everywhere.

Walk in the Sonoran Desert, nearby places

There's not a lot of desert left in Tucson. This city has grown so much since I first visited, swallowing up the desert and leaving houses in its stead. The weeds that like people are happy about these changes, though. Let's look at a few of them before we go out into the desert proper. It is always calming, when in a new place, to see old familiar faces smile up at me.

Rosemary (Rosmarimus officinalis)
The rosemary bushes planted in the developed areas grow into perfect balls covered in blue-purple flowers. This one is one of many at an apartment complex. I am itching to get out my scissors and make some rosemary vinegar. It is great in salads and superior as a hair rinse. I hope the dwellers in these apartments harvest sprigs to use as seasoning.

Mallow (Malva neglecta)
We have been seeing a lot of this delicious salad green and soothing medicine this winter. I believe it has been on every one of our walks for the past few months. What can I say? It pops up everywhere: in vacant lots, school yards, gardens, and roadsides. This lush example is in Betsy's rose garden. I added a few leaves to our salad. And we marveled at how deep the roots go, allowing this plant to survive in the harshest places.

Violet (Viola species)
All hail Queen Violet. She was one of my first favorite infusions. I stopped recommending her when the price of dried violet got super expensive, but it has come down in the past years, and many students are telling me they are making and loving violet leaf infusion. It is said to be one of the best antioxidants available. But they say that about everything these days – from maple syrup to purple potatoes. The infusion is soothing to the gut, strongly anti-cancer, and a great source of protein, vitamins, and minerals.

Wild Mustard
Everywhere I go, the mustard family offers me sustenance. This mustard was growing happily in an area that has recently been bulldozed and covered in cement in an effort to control flood waters. It has a spicy, mustardy taste that I crave in a green salad. We didn't manage to get any home for our dinner salad though. We ate it on the spot, leaving, of course, the ones that were flowering and setting seeds. I hope to find lots more of this mustard growing here when I visit again next year.

It makes my friends, old and new, a wee bit tense that I go barefoot everywhere, even in the desert. But I walk in sandy washes and avoid the areas where cholla grows. Nonetheless, I did tread upon a cholla piece when I was focused on taking a photo of a group of mammillaria. No pain until I attempted to remove it with my fingers. Ouch! Deep pricks in my fingers! Betsy gave me two sticks and I was able to un-cholla my foot. When Donna came in the afternoon, she brought a gift of a white sage and turpentine-bush (Ericameria laricifolia) salve. Good to prevent infection. I used it on my fingertips and applied some to my foot as well. All healed.

Prickly pear (Opuntia)
This is the cactus to eat. The one without the obvious spikes, that is. Don't try eating this other one, though they are both prickly pear cacti. Only the smooth one is nopale. It is not without protection, so don't get your bare hands on it. There are very small, very fine thorns, called glochids, on it. They can be removed, and the interior flesh eaten cooked or raw. It is tasty, if a bit slimy. I like it best marinated.

Creosote bush (Larrea tridentata)
This is one of the biggest medicines of the Sonoran Desert. When I arrived, it had just rained and the smell of creosote bush permeated the air. Diluted, like that, it is pleasant. Not so when made into a tea or tinctured. Why would one drink something that tastes like an old ashtray? Because it is said to help remove cancer cells from the body!

Wild tobacco (Nicotiana rustica)
I am told this wild tobacco is too poisonous even to smoke. It grows rampantly along the disturbed banks of washes. If I had a garden here, I would encourage wild tobacco to grow along the edges to ward off the hordes of insects that thrive in arid-area gardens.

And a few not-so-thorny plants of the desert...

Pretty little plant with purple flowers

Pretty plant with white edges

Yellow flowers (Asteraceae)

Palo verde (Cercidium floridum)

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 $17.95

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 $19.95
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

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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