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Healing Wise ...
with Susun Weed

Weed Walk: Sunflowers, goldenrod .. Echinacea;

This week I want to introduce you to a multi-talented plant family, the Asters, also known as the daisy family or the sunflower family. This family includes many beautiful plants that are cultivated for their flowers, including daisies and sunflowers, black-eyed Susans and chrysanthemums, bachelor's buttons and a colorful array of asters.

It also includes delicious edible plants such as lettuce, artichoke, sunchoke, sunflowers, and dandelion; and even some flavoring plants like tarragon. There are plenty of weedy plants in the family, too, such as ragweeds, tickseeds, hawkweeds, knapweeds, goldenrods, and thistles, like bull thistle).

And, of course, this family provides important medicinal plants, including chamomile, tansy, elecampane, cronewort, wormwood, echinacea, liferoot, burdock, chicory, yarrow, boneset, Joe-Pye-weed, and milk thistle.

Now let's met some more daisy-family plants, and see what they can do. I hope to so surprise you with interesting information about that maligned weed goldenrod, so that you will not only look on it with a smile, but also be motivated to harvest some for our recipe of the week: Goldenrod Tonic.


Goldenrod (Solidago juncea)
This photo shows a lovely example of early goldenrod, the first of the goldenrods come into bloom as the days shorten. Many others will follow it, for there are more than 60 species of goldenrod in my area, all used in the same ways. I think of goldenrods as fall tonics; they improve the functioning of the immune system and help protect us from colds and the flu. I harvest the flowering tops and use them fresh to make vinegar or tincture; I dry some and use them for tea, too. Goldenrods are unjustly accused of causing pollen allergies. Sit with a patch of goldenrod if you can, and watch. See all those flying, creeping, crawling creatures? Goldenrod is a great source of nectar for many insects. Since only plants that produce windblown pollen can cause allergic reactions, we can see that goldenrod is blameless. The culprit is a short plant with green flowers: ragweed.

photo by G.U. Tolkiehn

Ragweed (Ambrosia artemisifolia)
This inconspicuous plant has pollen grains that look like torture devices. No wonder so many folks react to it. Since it is wind pollinated, it has no need for showy, colorful flowers, so it goes unnoticed, and goldenrod gets the blame for our sneezes and red eyes. Since it is wind pollinated, there are copious amounts of the pollen blowing about. The best defense is to make a tincture of the flowering tops. Then, next year, you will have a sovereign remedy against pollen allergies.

Wild lettuce (Lactuca canadensis)
This tall and stately plant is one of the many wild lettuces found springing up in the fall. We saw the basal rosette of this plant last spring when we were looking at plants with leaves that look like dandelion leaves. Like cultivated lettuces, the wild ones can be eaten before they flower, but become bitter when they send up their flower stalk. The white sap found in all lettuces contains alkaloids similar to those found in opium. It was collected and tinctured and used to ease the pain of terminal wounds by native peoples. Although the flowers of this wild lettuce are white and tight, the flowers of most wild lettuces are yellow and loose. (That is my arm in the photo. I had to bend the flowering stalk over in order to photograph it for you. I could have used three hands for doing that!

Echinacea purpurea, E. augustifloia

Other Names: Purple Cornflower
Type: Tonifying
Found in: Praries of North America. E. purpureais easily cultivated, but retains little medicinal value when dried.
Parts Used: Autumn dug, five-year-old roots; whole plant in flower.
Actions & Uses: Anti-tumor, anti-cancer; enhances immune system (increases interferon, enhances macrophage activity); raises white blood cell count; relieves pain and swelling; counters all infections, especially antibiotic-resistant ones (e.g., wound infections, staph, strep, pneumonia, mastitis, blood poisoning, flu, colds, sinus/ tooth/ gum infections, abscesses); reduces side effects of chemo therapy.
Important Constituents: Antioxidants, many alkaloids, carotenes, flavonoids, inulin, limonene, phenolic acid, pinenes, quercetin; selenium, zinc and many other minerals.

Preparation & Daily Dose: Up to 6 months of daily use.
Dried root infusion: 2 cups/500 ml
Fresh or dried root tincture: A dose equal one drop for every 2 pounds/ 1 kilogram body weight.

• For general immune strengthening: A dose once or twice a week.
• For those with cancer or chronic infection: A dose 1-3 times a day.
• For those with acute infection: A dose every two hours for 1-2 days (if I don't see results within 24 hours, I get help), then every three hours for 1-2 days, reducing to three times a day, then twice a day, then once a day for a week. If signs of infection return, I go back to a higher dose.
Toxicity: None.
Works Well With: Poke, burdock, cleavers.

Results & Notes: Large doses of echinacea can raise white blood cell count dramatically and within hours. Recommended as an anti-cancer anti-infection herb for centuries, more than 200 pharmaceutical preparations made from echinacea are currently in use worldwide. Superb complementary medicine for women (or men) choosing surgery or chemotherapy. Echinacea may be used for months with continuing benefit, although many herbalists, myself included, previously suggested a break after two weeks. Echinacea and poke root combine to counter breast infections quickly and dramatically.

Goldenrod Tonic

Keeps the immune system strong all winter

  • Harvest goldenrod tops (flowers, some stalk and leaves) on a bright, sunny day.

  • Cut them up and fill any jar that has a plastic lid.

  • Fill the jar right to the top.

  • Now add pasteurized apple cider vinegar to the jar, again filling it right to the top. Screw on the lid. (Metal lids will corrode and ruin your tonic.)

  • Label.

  • Wait six weeks.

Use on salads, beans, or in a glass of water, perhaps sweetened a bit with maple syrup, as a refreshing drink.

Don't like vinegar? Fill your jar with 100 proof vodka and make a goldenrod tincture, which is taken by the dropperful.


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
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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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