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For the week of May 30 through June 5, 2001

Herbalist recommends system for better health

Express Staff Writer

Herbalist Darcy Williamson recommends herbal tinctures, teas, vinegars and plants that can help women with symptoms such as bone-density loss and hot flashes during menopause.

She warns that many herbs found in health food stores are ineffective in capsule or tablet form because of their short shelf life.

Plants and herbs that can be self-grown and harvested include:

  • Valerian. This should be a tincture and not in capsule form. Dry valerian has a kind of acid that is habit forming. Use instead the root of valerian. Itís very effective in reducing stress and aiding in sleep.

  • St. Johnís Wort. This is said to aid in anxiety-related depression. It does not dissolve its constituency in water, but must be a tinctureóa fact that raises doubts about a recent study showing it doesnít work. Harvest the flowering tops of the plant, rinse off, pack firmly in a jar, pour grain alcohol or cheap vodka over it and let it sit for several weeks. Then pour it through a coffee filter. It should be a burgundy red. If you buy this dry or in tablet form you are wasting your money.

  • Horsetail. Good for rebuilding bones after the seven-year period of losing density before and during menopause. Horsetail rebuilds through the natural silicone. However, Williamson warns, it can be toxic depending on where itís grown. Itís best to plant and harvest it yourself.

  • Huckleberry. The leaf tea regulates blood sugar. It will last six months in the refrigerator. She says to pick the leaves in the spring and have a cup of tea before meals.

  • Hawthorne is for anyone over fifty. She calls it a whole-heart tree. Take it everyday as a tonic to strengthen the muscles around the heart. It is also good for energy.

  • Yams have enzymes that help us but Williamson said that eating a baked yam does the same thing as applying the cream.

  • American Angelica is the same genus as Dong Quai and grows here in the valley. Dong Quai is often taken to strengthen blood and regulate the body. Use the root to make a tonic.

  • Soy. Williamson said that added to your diet, soy can significantly reduce hot flashes, due to isoflavones, a natural plant form of estrogen.


Other herbs she mentions are red raspberry leaf tea for strengthening the uterus, shepherdís purse and trillium to stop spotting and excessive bleeding.

Other than growing and harvesting your own herbs, Williamson recommends Frontier Herbs as a company that thoroughly regulates and tests its products.

In our area, Two Ravens tinctures are available at Akasha Organics, in Chapter One. Herbs are also available on-line from Williamson.

Williamson is working on a book on herbs in this area, but in the meantime recommends Medicine Plants of Mountain West by Tucson resident Michael Moore. Another source is Dr. James Duke, whose Web site ( has medicinal recommendations of plantsí ethnobotanical uses.




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