Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Micheal W Fox comments

More than one hunter has said to me “We have to shoot them to save them”. I see this rationalization as a recently adopted justification derived from the quasi-science of wildlife management as practiced by most state Departments of Natural Resources. This essentially entails the manipulation of ecosystems to expedite the profitable farming and harvesting of lumber, deer and other wildlife and natural products. What indeed is wild when 650,000 deer hunters go onto state and federal lands during the annual November harvesting in Minnesota alone? This segment of society supports highly lucrative outdoors equipment and hunting supply industry that has a vested interest in seeing wolves hunted once more, and that there are plenty of deer for license paying consumers to go out and kill especially when wolf numbers are kept low.  Safari trophy hunters tell me in one voice “Wildlife must pay its own way”.Alternative and choices can be made, regardless of the atavistic imperatives and gratification of being a hunter. Seeing beyond the strength of the wolf being the strength of the pack, the strength of the pack is the strength of the gene pool and the ecosystem. Our collective will to avoid harming and injuring and practice CPR, locally as well as globally---Conservation, Preservation and Restoration---is what is now called for, particularly with the consequences of climate change. Specifically in northern Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and the Western Great Lakes region, the ecological role of the wolf, properly utilized, would greatly benefit the deer population, forest vegetation and natural biodiversity, and make many current “management” practices, including having to kill in order to save, redundant. 

A Note: Hundreds of thousands of captive, cage-crazed carnivores raised for their fur in Minnesota and Wisconsin (the nation’s top producer of mink) are suffering. This aspect of wildlife farming has no place in a civilized society. Neither do the commercial puppy mills in Minnesota, one of the top ten states producing purebred dogs under conditions similar to those of the farmed fox and mink.

Micheal Fox

Friday, November 26, 2010

Coyote and Wolves

Predators have rights too. Can coyotes and sheep coexist in the same area?

Our neighbours laughed silently when they learned we were going raise sheep on our 80 acres of primarily aspen bush and native prairie grasses. We had lots of water, access to good quality hay for winter and if managed properly the grass and bush could sustain them during the spring and summer. If all else fails the Community pastures are an option. Predators never crossed our minds being from the city. The thought of sheep being raised on land were the coyotes reigned made the old timers smile “Those city people will learn”!

Our first lambing went well. Lots of snow and moisture brought on the grass. Our fence was in place. Out went the ewes and lambs, but not all the lambs returned in the evening. First it was the bottle fed lambs then a few more went missing. One morning I looked up from weeding the tomatoes and not 100 yards away a coyote was having a breakfast of lamb. I ran down to the house and got my husband. Grabbing his gun and bullets we quietly went back to the garden. The coyote was too occupies to notice until the gun jammed. So began our relationship with the coyote . We never did kill any, we learned to live with them . We watched them over the year as internal parasites, mange and harsh winters took their toll. We saw them flourish when mice and small prey were abundant. We learned to respect them and the role they played. We were encroaching on their land.

That’s what this blog is about restoring balance, tolerance, respect, and peace!




I sent the following Letter to the Editor, the Star Tribune (in Minneapolis, MN) on Nov 19th, 2010 (which was not published).

“Re; Question of wolves is again at our door (Nov 17th). Thanks to Ms. Giese and the Center for Biological Diversity for this article pointing out that a handful of Minnesotans want to take away the legal protection of the Federal Endangered Species Act from the Great Lakes wolves.

This is surely outrageous to most reasonable, if not also caring people, since the protection of the wolf by our government was a democratically agreed upon decision. For the U.S. government (Fish and Wildlife Service) to support these vested interests by taking the indigenous wolves off the protected species list would be anti-democratic at best; and closer to the kind of ecological anarchy with a bio-warfare mentality that is already casting a long shadow across the beginning of this century.

As Ms. Giese points out, there are many ways of dealing with wolf-human conflicts without having to resort to removing the wolves’ legal protections, which will mean escalated killing, and then wolf fur will back in fashionable vengeance to once again offend the public eye.

I was not very surprised to read in the Nov. 20th Star Tribune a rebuttal to lawyer-conservationist Gies’ article, entitled “Setting the record straight on wolves” from the Director of the International Wolf Center, (IWC) founded by Dr. David Mech who debated me at a public meeting convened by the Wild Canid Research & Survival Center some years ago in St. Louis over his opposition to ever putting the Gray or North American Timber Wolf on the Endangered Species list. The current IWC executive director Mary Oritz endorses the de-listing of the wolf from the Endangered Species Act protections in favor of MDNR (Minnesota Department of Natural Resources) management which she says “would continue to protect wolves for at least five years after federal delisting.”

According to Minnesotan Karlyn Atkinson Berg of HOWL (Help Our Wolves Live), there is nothing written to prevent the hunting of wolves during this time period, and that reporter Doug Smith was on the mark when he told me that “a limited season for hunting wolves will come after that time.”

I find this no less offensive as a wolf ethologist and conservationist (author of the Soul of the Wolf) than Ms. Oritz and the International Wolf Center dismissing the parvovirus threat to wolf populations and packs. This is one of several disease transmitted by infected free-roaming and feral dogs and possibly cats, which the MDNR needs to address, along with diseases transmitted by livestock to deer and other wild herbivores. As a veterinarian I am familiar with the diseases domestic animals transmit to wildlife for which wildlife are often exterminated for fear of them re-infecting livestock.

This is a vicious circle indeed, which Ms.Oritz would see as a management issue rather than as an ethical dilemma because it is almost always resolved by extermination. Putting out birth-control-drug- laced baits is an alternative population management tool, but fraught with some ecological, non-target animal, and target-animal health and behavioral consequences with possible secondary effects on pack dynamics and integrity.

The widespread broadcasting of bait containing genetically engineered live rabies virus to ostensibly stop the spread of rabies in various wild carnivore populations across the U.S. warrants some basic research safety determinations because of non-target species infection, and possible viral recombination and mutation.

Ms. Oritz’s contention that “The court rulings against federal wolf delisting were based on legal technicalities, not biological considerations” is based on her assumption that having an estimated 4,000 wolves in the entire states of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan is way above the “officially approved biological recovery level in 1978.”

Considering the numbers of managed deer herds that are harvested by hunters in these states, it is little wonder that hunter-displaced wolves might come to prey on cattle and other livestock. In the opening weekend for firearms hunters of Minnesota’s deer season in 2010, the Star Tribune reported the killing of 90,000 Whitetail deer, with a season total kill estimate of 200,000.((Nov.10th, 2010). Star Tribune’s Outdoors Reporter of these figures, Doug Smith, told me that there would be an additional deer killing by bow hunters totaling an additional 20,000 deer, based on figures for 2009.

I would say let the wolves assume a greater role in deer-herd ‘management’, and let the wild forests return and heal. Cut back the hunters first before the old growth trees, and let the wolves remain on the Endangered Species list because they are under constant threat of human encroachment, conflict and retaliation. It is time for rapprochement, for more ‘biophilia’ to quote Harvard biologist-conservationist E.O.Wilson, and an end to biological warfare which is surely not justified when there are only 4,000 wolves in these three states, a number which some wolf biologists and conservationists believe to be highly questionable. Ms. Berg with HOWL , lamenting the lack of public education about the wolf to raise awareness and appreciation of the environmental values of this species, a primary, natural and superior wildlife and ecosystem manager to any DNR writes to me that “If the public knew how poorly population counts were taken, that wolf mortality is under estimated and is even missing from the calculations here, they would know the number is questionable. In Minnesota (the worst offender) population counts are based upon "opinion surveys", peripheral information from studies of other species, and ancient extrapolations; hence little science is being used to come up with these numbers.”

It was the Minnesota DNR that was the first to petition the U.S. government to de-list the Eastern Gray Timber wolf in March 2010 (See Federal Register Vol.75, No.177, Tuesday, Sept 14, 2010/Proposed Rules, p 55730-55735), this state being the core domain of this species. In April the Wisconsin DNR followed suit, and then in May the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, representing five other organizations, requested that the gray wolf in the Great Lakes area (Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan) be removed from the list of endangered and threatened species under the Act. In June the Safari Club International and the National Rifle Association joined forces in a similar petition to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Of these three states, the Minnesota DNR management plans are the worst since they do not mandate any effective, humane management practices; permit the killing of wolves in the act of “stalking” livestock on private property, and has a $150 bounty for killing wolves in depredation control areas. The superior Michigan DNR management plan includes public education and helping ranchers implement appropriate husbandry practices, while Wisconsin DNR states that it “will focus on prevention and mitigation rather than wolf removal. Public education and proactive measures to reduce wolf predation are non existent in the Minnesota DNR management plan, a point emphasized in the Nov 15th 2010 Comments to the U.s. Fish and Wildlife by Washington DC based Defenders of Wildlife. But this organization clearly contradicts its own name by supporting the de-listing of the gray wolf in the western Great Lakes from the Endangered Species Act to permit killing as a management tool and inevitably wolf hunting and trapping.

The relentless persecution of the North American wolf and other wild carnivores---from the California cougar and the Florida panther to the Black footed ferret, wily Coyote and Grizzly and Brown bears by the livestock industry has been paid for by the public for decades. State and federal governments have waged biological warfare on these species in total disregard for the suffering and devastating ecological consequences of their anarchy. Currently, farmers and ranchers are compensated from the public coffers for livestock lost to wolves but not for losses from coyotes, weather or disease, so what’s the beef?

Cattle ranchers grazing their animals almost for free on our public lands even have the Bureau of Land Management eliminate competing wild mustangs from the range, while entire Prairie dog colonies are sucked out by giant vacuum cleaners.

The shooting, trapping, snaring, clubbing, poisoning, den-bombing, cyanide-gunning and hunting-dog assisted killing of wild carnivores are outmoded wildlife management practices devoid of either scientific credibility or bioethical validity. The adoption of appropriate, non-lethal predation-minimizing farmed animal husbandry practices by farmers and ranchers whose free-range animals may be at risk, should be mandatory: And only when in place should there be any compensation for wildlife pathologist certified livestock losses due to predation.

The vast majority of Americans who supported the Endangered Species Act for the protection of wolves and other dwindling species should not be betrayed by their government choosing to aid and abet continued ecological anarchy by a few who have no regard for all that is wild and part of the spirit of North America, the natural heritage of all citizens of this magnificent continent. A sustainable economy and the rule of law, especially as they pertain to eco-justice and the inherent value of wolves and all living beings, demand no less.

Neither congress nor the Obama administration should permit the Department of the Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service to pander to those state interests bent on having Canis lupus de-listed as an endangered species because it will mean redoubled persecution, killing for sport, and, inevitably, more wolves being trapped and poisoned. The ethical, caring majority of U.S. citizens who continue to support the protection of endangered species and the conservation, restoration and preservation (CPR) of their habitats should not be betrayed.

I urge all concerned citizens to contact their state representatives in Congress to let their voice of opposition to the de-listing of the Eastern Gray Timber wolf be heard by all who are responsible for the integrity and continued enforcement of the Endangered Species Act, and do not undermine its intent as an enduring legacy for this nation to embrace as a significant advance in civilization..

Dr. Michael W. Fox

2135 Indiana Ave N

Golden Valley MN 55422



website: www.twobitdog.com/DrFox/

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Review of Orf in Sheep and Goats

This review was done by veterinary students at The Western College of Veterinary Medicine. This was done as part of their virology course.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Natural Rearing of Goats



Susun S. Weed, herbalist

In my life-long pursuit of learning, I have encountered many ideas and opinions about health, healing, and herbs. I read widely and I have chosen to study with women that I admire.

Elisabeth Kubler Ross was my first mentor. She taught me to value emotions, especially anger. She would not teach us until we had sung together. Jean Houston declared herself my mentor in the 1980’s, nearly thirty years ago. She taught me to entertain rather than teach and to always look for the story in addition to the facts. She, also, refused to teach us until we all sang together. (Did you notice that I began class with a song and invited you to sing along?)

Juliette de Bairacli Levy is another woman who has had a profound influence on my life and my teaching. When I encountered her book, Common Herbs for Natural Health, in the late 1970’s, I had already been working with herbs and herbal medicine for more than a decade. Juliette revolutionized the way I saw plants and set the patterns for my work with animals. I was fortunate enough to meet her not too long after I read her work, and she was soon a dear friend. I became, and still am, her publisher.* She left us in 2008 and is missed by many.

Juliette modeled for me a fiercely independent woman who fearlessly roamed the world, children in tow, avidly seeking natural ways of living and healing. The life I have created on my homestead follows in her footsteps, and the footsteps of a dear friend of hers, and role model of mineL Helen Nearing. With their guidance, I have lived the Simple Life and raised my animals with Natural Rearing for the past forty years.

I don’t vaccinate my goats for anything, not even tetanus.*** If your goats are around horses, if you castrate with elastics or a knife, or if you dehorn the goats vaccinating for TETANUS is wise. If you need to feed a lot of grain greater than 40% of the total ration. I would advise vaccination for Clostridial perfringens Type D. (Meg Smart)

I don’t dehorn my goats. I don’t free stall.

I don’t separate the kids from their mothers.

I don’t breed until a doe is more than a year old.

I don’t breed every year.

I don’t have my goats in a fenced-in pasture.

I don’t worm my goats on a schedule or use chemical wormers.

In order to keep my goats naturally, I study Nature. I re-wild them and myself.

I continually ask myself what would happen in the wild, while keeping firmly in mind that my goats (and I) are the product of thousands of years of domestication. Because I keep a closed herd and don’t go to fairs or shows, and because I started with a disease-free group of goats, and because I can’t do it myself, I have no reason to immunize or vaccinate my goats against any diseases. In nearly forty years of keeping goats, fewer than ten percent of my deaths have been from any cause other than old age, and none from a communicable disease. (Nearly all of my goats live to be 13-15 years old.)

I love the way the horns look on my Alpine goats. None of the reasons I’ve heard for dehorning make sense for me since I don’t take my girls away from home. The kids learn fast to stay out of the way of the horns. (I have seen them scooped up with the curve of the horns and neatly tossed over the back. They bounce.) My oldest goats keep well back from horn smashing. An elder doe was horned hard on her side some years ago in a struggle over some apple leftovers from cider pressing. (Yes, I set out four tubs, but they fought over one of them nonetheless.) She was certainly hurt and she died about two weeks later. But she was fifteen years old!) The woman who introduced me to dairy goats had an aggressive doe who beat down the wall between her and the next goats and ripped that milker’s vagina. These are the only accidents I have seen in nearly half a century of taking care of horned goats.

* As Ash Tree Publishing I keep many of Juliette’s lesser-known titles in print including Nature’s Children, Traveler’s Joy, Gypsy in New York, Spanish Mt. Life, and Summer in Galilee, in addition to her beloved herbal, my favorite of her people books: Common Herbs for Natural Health.

Because they have horns, each goat must have her own stall. We gate the stall when she has a kid (to keep the kid in or out, as we wish) and remove the gate, clipping her onto a short tether, when she doesn’t have a kid. My herd is small. My target number is seven goats. Right now, I have six milkers and five kids. (Two are does; I’ll keep one or both of them.)

We are careful not to play with the kids in ‘horny’ ways. When they butt us, we push them away by placing a hand on their chest, or we walk away.

The kids are born where their mother thinks best. Most of the time that is in her stall, with the door closed, but at least once every five years or so someone decides it is best to deliver herself outside. I do my best to note the signs of labor and to check in frequently enough to be of service if there is any problem. In forty years of keeping goats I have had to take a goat to the vet to be delivered once. (It’s quite the story; we saved both kids.) I also needed a vet’s help when a goat gave birth to her uterus along with her kid. (Of course I was in France at the time.) (She gave birth to my current lead milker two years later.) I have had still-born kids five or six times. I have had kids who failed to thrive twice. I keep shepherd’s purse tincture in the barn and dose any doe who seems to be bleeding more than a trickle. I keep blue cohosh around for the rare time I think labor needs some help. Every doe who has just given birth is offered five gallons of warm water with a cup of molasses added; most drink the whole bucket.

Kids stay with their mothers night and day until they are three to four weeks old. Then we shut them out of their mother’s stalls from around 5pm (when the goats go into the barn) until we milk at 9pm. Once the kids are six weeks old, we separate them from late afternoon through the night and reunite them with their mothers after the morning milking. All kids have access to their mothers during the day for their entire lives. Once in a while a doe is nursing a kid while still suckling from her mother. (We have some triplets, though not many; we eat the smallest male of the trio before it is a week old.)

By waiting until the doe is over a year old to breed her, and by breeding only every second or third year, I am once again following nature, not modern goat rearing methods. These choices give me a big goat who is capable of producing a lot of milk for a long time; and that’s just what I want. It is not unusual for one of my does to give half a gallon a day in her third year of lactation. My lead milker is feeding a doe kid and still giving me a gallon of milk a day.

For the health of my herd and my own health, I am a herder. That is, I don’t put my goats into a fenced enclosure; I herd them. I milk at 9am and let the goats out of the barn when I am finished with my kitchen chores (straining and refrigerating the milk, dealing with the cultures and ferments we have going, washing up, making cheese or yogurt as needed) or no later than noon. My goats and I wander over my sixty acres and the adjoining 350 acres belonging to those who live on all sides of me. The goats rarely visit the same spot two days in a row – unless it’s autumn and they are glutting themselves on acorns.

Nature smiles on roaming rather than eating always in the same places. Roaming keeps the parasite cycle broken. And roaming gives my goats a wide choice of edibles. (I nearly had a heart attack one day when they ate a plant that I think of as stopping the action of the heart. It did make them very very sick; but they stay well away from it now!)

I love it that my goats eat a variety of vegetation. I maintain that the best herbal medicine is raw goat’s milk because it is predigested herbs. This morning one of the kids spent fifteen minutes eating plantain leaves and flower stalks. They eat raspberry leaves; good for reproductive health. They eat dandelion and chicory; keeps the digestion strong. They eat poison ivy; it makes their coats sleek and keeps me from reacting to it when I consume it in the milk. They eat roses and red clover; both are fertility enhancers and allies in keeping a good supply of milk coming.

Keeping animals the Natural way is fun, intimate, engaging, and best done on a small scale. Re-wilding myself and my animals keeps us all in optimum health.



Susun S. Weed, herbalist

Since my animals are generally in excellent health, the primary health care that I give is to help them when they are injured. And as I’ve kept a variety of animals for more than forty years, I’ve had the opportunity to deal with both minor and major problems. The local herbs in my yard have provided me with all the medicines I have needed to tend to those problems, large and small. I never hesitate to seek help when I need to use a drug (see Sweetheart’s story), to get a hi-tech diagnosis (see Diana’s story), or to do something I don’t know how to do (like put a goat’s udder back into her body).

Sweetheart the goose was ten years old when he was attacked in the middle of a cold winter night by something toothed. His armpit (wingpit?) was entirely ripped out, down to the bone. I couldn’t even guess how many other wounds he was hiding under four inches of down.

Since I was fairly certain there were puncture wounds that I couldn’t see, and thus couldn’t tend to, I took him to a local vet for a shot of antibiotic. Then began the three-month-long process of healing and restoring healthy confidence to my Sweetheart. Nourishing herbal infusions, especially comfrey, raw goat’s milk yogurt, constant warmth from the woodstove, and loving attention from many – which went under various guises such as praying for him, lighting candles for him, doing Reiki for him – were the simple means we used to return him to vigorous health. (He lived another seven years and had more healing adventures.)

Hera the goat kid was about ten weeks old when we found her down, rigid, and apparently dead. Close examination revealed a weak heart beat and slow respiration. Her tongue was purple and hanging from her mouth. I feared she had eaten something poisonous, though I couldn’t guess what. My land is free of mountain laurel, the frequent culprit in goat poisonings in my area. I mixed several tablespoonfuls of slippery elm bark powder with fresh warm milk from her mom and dripped it into her mouth, stroking her throat to encourage her to swallow. An apprentice offered to sit up with her, feeding her, and stroking her throat all night.

Slippery elm is renowned for absorbing poisons and saving animals’ lives. It certainly worked for Hera. Though she was blind, she survived her misadventure. We continued giving her slippery elm mixed with her mother’s milk, and she regained her sight two weeks later.

Diana the cat was twenty years old when she lay down in the warm spring sun to take a nap. If my student, J, had turned on her car engine, Diana would have heard her and jumped out of the way. If J had left at the end of class, the noise of our voices would have alerted her. But J was embarrassed that she was leaving early, so she tried to be quiet. She let out the clutch and rolled her car backwards down the hill – and over the cat, breaking her pelvis into pieces.

The vet x-rayed her and suggested surgery. I was aghast, convinced she would not survive it. I took her home and made a warm nest for her. I brought her dishes of warm milk every hour. I put comfrey leaf infusion in the milk; I put echinacea tincture into the milk. When she refused it twice in a row, I fed it to her with a dropper.

The local Reiki master is a cat lover in general and a Diana lover in particular, so she dropped by whenever she could (often several times a day) to administer Reiki. Our intention was to allow her pelvis to resume its normal shape, which we knew it remembered at a cellular level. It did. Comfrey and love, goat’s milk and faith healed her enough to allow her to jump up on the table four months later. (Diana died the following winter of pneumonia.)

Herbs That Deal with Injuries:

Calendula (Calendula officinalis) flower tincture or ointment is everybody’s favorite home remedy for injuries. Apply lavishly as needed.

Plantain (Plantago species) is a back-yard weed with miraculous abilities to stop itching and hasten healing. Use fresh or as an oil/ointment.

Slippery elm (Ulmus fulva) bark is nourishing, absorbing, and rebuilding to mucus surfaces of the digestive system. Powder works best.

St. Joan’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) oil and tincture ease pain.

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) heals internal as well as external wounds.

PLANTAIN is not a banana, but a broad-leafed weed of lawns and city sidewalks. Plantain is found in profusion from the tropics to the arctic, and from coast to coast. Both Plantago majus and P. lanceolata are common throughout North America.

Whether the itch is from dry skin or bug bites, chafing or nervousness, eczema or rubbing, eveyone needs plantain, the anti-itch miracle. Dogs that chew at flea bites get instant relief from plantain oil/ointment or applications of fresh macerated leaves. All are safe to ingest and stop itching fast fast fast. Plantain also stops bleeding. It is a fine pain reliever. And it hastens healing. “Plain plantain,” who advocates peace, is the child’s first plant. It is so empowering for children to be able to reach out and pick a plant to help themselvs; it is even more so when they can reach out and use that same plant to help heal their cherished pets.

Plantain ointments are easily available. They are even easier to make. Instructions are in my books as well as at my website:

But don’t hesitate to use plantain fresh. Just chew and apply to all injuries, including deep cuts, bullet holes, barbed wire wounds, abrasions, and bruises.

SLIPPERY ELM has such a mild demeanor you would hardly guess that she is such a powerhouse. I use powdered slippery elm bark mixed with honey and rolled into boluses which can be swallowed (animal) or allowed to dissolve in the mouth (human). I also mix it with fresh milk to form a gruel that can be as thick or thin as I desire. I have fed this gruel to struggling newborns from a dropper. It can be fed from a bottle to weanlings with diarrhea.

Slippery elm bark powder stops diarrhea, often after one dose. It ends constipation. It absorbs all poisons from the gut. It ends food poisoning. It restores weak young ones. It adds a little extra to the bottle for the needy. I adore slippery elm.

Slippery elm bark powder is available at most health food stores. Buy it in bulk.

ST JOAN’S WORT is one of my favorite plants. I use both the oil and the tincture to allay a variety of problems. Also known as St. John’s wort, this sunny yellow flower turns into intense red remedies that allow us to safely use the energy of the sun. Hypericum perforatum graces fields in the northern half of North America from Virginia to Nova Scotia, northern California to Vancouver.

St. J’s tincture, made immediately from fresh flowers, stops spasms, allays pain after surgery, counters infection, and kills a wide variety viruses including papilloma, herpes, and HIV. A dropperful for each 150 pounds of weight is a good starting dose. In the case of spasms, the dose may be repeated at fifteen minutes intervals. In the case of viral infection, the dose is best given every four to six hours.

St. J’s oil eases pain fast. It is especially restorative after surgery. It relaxes muscles and helps nerve ending heal well. Many mysterious skin problems are solved by frequent applications of the infused red oil of Hypericum.

St. J’s tincture and oil are available wherever herbal products are sold.

YARROW has been used for thousands of years to heal wounds. It became known as “soldier’s wound wort” during the Civil War, when it was used to prevent infection during battleground amputations. Some claim its botanical designation – Achillea millefolium – honors the Greek hero Achilles.

Yarrow is a superior pain reliever. Fresh leaves macerated and applied to an injury stop bleeding in seconds. It is said that the gypsies revere yarrow because it saved the life of a chief whose arm was ripped off by a horse. The tincture is also hemostatic, but not so quickly. Internally, it quixotic, sometimes stopping bleeding, sometimes seeming to encourage it.

Yarrow is a superior anti-infective externally. It has been shown to kill hundreds of gram- positive and gram-negative bacteria. Applied as soon as possible, either fresh or in tincture form, yarrow prevents infection perfectly.

Yarrow is a superior wound healer. Yarrow contains substances that help a wound close rapidly and without scar tissue. A poultice of the fresh leaves is ideal.

Yarrow grows in open fields throughout the temperate regions. Only the white variety is medicinal. Colored cultivars have too much volatile oil for safe use.

Yarrow is sold at most health food stores, both as a ready-made tincture and as dried leaves and flowers.

ESSENTIAL OILS seem to be natural, but they aren’t. True, the words “natural flavor” refer to compounds made in laboratories, not to compounds extracted from plants. In this sense, we could say that essential oils are natural, they are concentrated from plants in laboratories. But this is not what most people think of as “natural.”

I define a drug as something that does not grow out of the ground and cannot be made in your own kitchen. Thus, essential oils are drugs. Drugs, as we know, are highly. Drugs, as we know, can instigate other problems while countering the initial one.

Essential oils are hormone disruptors. They suppress the immune system. And they kill gut flora. Not just when taken internally, but when used externally or when we breathe them in. Like drugs, essential oils are handy, powerful, and easily available. Like drugs, essential oils are rarely made in earth-friendly ways.

Using herbs brings us closer to our roots, helps us reconnect with Nature, heals the planet as well as the being. Herbal medicine is people’s medicine.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010



Susun S. Weed, herbalist

Herbs are extremely effective in countering infections if used lavishly, repeatedly, and skillfully. Larger animals, like goats may be given tinctures directly into their mouths. I dose smaller animals, like dogs, cats, and rabbits, by adding tinctures to some liquid, usually milk.

Herbs That Counter Infecti

Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea or Echinacea augustifolia) is my mainstay anti-infective

Lomatium (Lomatium dissectum) is a specialty herb with broad-spectrum abilities

Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) is not recommended.

Poke (Phytolacca americana) kicks the immune system into high gear.

Usnea (Usnea barbarata) is a lichen that counters deep-seated infections.

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) says she runs a “school of self defense.”

I rely on echinacea root tincture, poke root tincture, and yarrow flower tincture for ninety-nine percent of all infections that I deal with. Occasionally I make use of usnea, and lomatium. I have used goldenseal only once in forty years of practice – externally, at that.

GOLDENSEAL is, I believe, overused. The plant itself is so overharvested that it has become rare in the wild. Consumers are enjoined to buy only cultivated root products in order to protect what little goldenseal is left. Goldenseal root, taken in any form, tea or tincture, kills and damages gut flora and, if used in large doses frequently, can stress and ultimately cause damage to the liver and the kidneys. I avoid it.

ECHINACEA is one of the most widely-used and most commonly-known of all herbs. I “discovered” it in the early 1970’s when looking for herbs to replace goldenseal in herbal formulae. In an old book of Eclectic herbs, I found Kansas Coneflower root listed as an effective agent against all infections. (Ask me what they called it in the book; I can’t write the name they used then as I would get in trouble for using a “bad” word nowadays.) I was able to procure both purple coneflower (E. purpurea) and large-leaved coneflower (E. augustifolia) roots, as plants for my garden and as dried herbs to use medicinally. I soon became enthralled with the beauty of the echinacea flowers and the power of her roots to heal.

It took me several years to learn that more is better with echinacea. I was cautious at first, treating it just like the antibiotic drugs I was familiar with. I limited my doses and limited the amount of time I used it. But as we grew to know each other, I stopped thinking of echinacea as a drug that could harm and began to regard her as a longevity tonic and an ally who could prevent as well as treat infections. (Let us remember that pharmaceutical antibiotics are not meant to be used to preventatively.) David Hoffmann, herbalist and author, reports that mice fed echinacea on a daily basis live twice as long as their echinacea-less litter mates.

I prefer to use E. augustifolia/angustifolia. It is difficult to cultivate, so I buy dried root and make my own tincture from it. (Instructions for making your own tincture are in all of my books and at my website: All my experiences relate to this species.

E. purpurea is the species most commonly offered for sale as a ready-made tincture. If made from the fresh root – and only the root (no leaves, no flowers, no seeds), and offered by itself (no goldenseal or other herbs mixed with it), E. purpurea is probably as effective as E. augustifolia. Echinacea has become a favorite landscaping plant. Purpurea grows rapidly, stays in flower for many weeks, is tolerant of drought, cold, and poor soils, and spreads through seeds.

The effective dose of echinacea root tincture is a large one, given frequently. How large? I use one drop per two pounds (or kilo) of body weight. A 300-pound goat needs 150 drops as a dose. A dropperful is generally about 25 drops, so 150 drops would be six dropperfuls. More is not a problem; less is not enough. I repeat the dose every one to four hours depending on the severity of the infection.

Echinacea nourishes the creation of white blood cells, up to, but not beyond, the capacity of the blood. (It can’t create leukemia, for instance). A blood test will show elevated levels of macrophages soon after the first dose. Continued use will help maintain the body’s ability to counter infective bacteria. Echinacea enhances the immune system; it is safe to use even when there is an auto-immune disease present.

When I raised chickens, I was horrified to find that all the feeds for chicks contained antibiotics. Instead, I added about an ounce of dried, ground E. purpurea root to a pound of feed. It worked well; but my chicks were not crowded, nor did I ever have more than a few dozen at a time.

POKE is a large, unusual-looking plant found primarily in rich soils in the eastern half of North America. The freshly harvested root, immediately tinctured, provides an agent that “pokes” the immune system and gets it going. Poke is one of the few scary plants that I use. All parts of it are considered poisonous if incorrectly prepared or used in excessive doses.

Country folk relish poke salat. A salat is a cooked green; young poke shoots are treated with boiling water to leach out the poisons and then cooked. I have enjoyed pokeberry jam and poke berry pie, although the seeds are quite poisonous. (So are apple seeds, apricot pits, and peach seeds.)

The dose of poke root tincture for people starts at one drop per day due to poke’s propensity for causing hallucinations when the dose exceeds ten drops a day. Poke contains many poisonous substances, including asparagene, an alkaloid that can damage the kidneys over time.

Since I don’t care if a sick animal hallucinates, I don’t hesitate to give large doses to them if I think it’s needed. If I don’t get the response I want from generous doses of echinacea given hourly for six hours in an acute situation, I bring on the poke. I generally add the poke tincture to the echinacea tincture in the ratio of one dropperful of poke per one ounce bottle of echinacea. Then I dose the echinacea as usual. Each dropper of echinacea contains about one drop of poke tincture.

I use poke only as needed. And never longer than is needed. It is especially effective in countering mastitis and engorgement of the udder from overeating proteins, such as alfalfa or acorns. Poke is not easily available. One source is www.redmoonherbs.com

YARROW counters infection, inside and out. The leaves or flowering tops, used fresh or tinctured is my favorite topical anti-infective. I discuss yarrow in my class (and notes) on treating injured animals. The tincture is for sale in most health food stores.

LOMATIUM has been shown to suppress the growth of sixty-two types of bacteria and fungi. It is also anti-viral, making it useful when the cause of the infection is uncertain. It is especially active in the mucus cells of the respiratory passages. It counters all colds and flus in humans and animals. Tincture of the freshly dug root, in doses as small as 5 drops taken three times a day, is used against brucellosis in goats and tuberculosis in humans; it is extremely useful in dealing with neonatal pneumonia. Lomatium tincture is not widely available. One source is

USNEA is a common lichen found on pine trees and fruits trees in cool, moist locations around the world. I have harvested usnea as south as New Zealand, as far north as Ontario, Canada, and as far west as California. It looks like old man’s beard and is related to it. The tincture of the properly-prepared plant is bright orange. Like lomatium, it has a special affinity for the lungs and respiratory organs. Like echinacea, it builds the immune system instead of stimulating it. Usnea is indicated if the infection is very deep-seated.

I use dropperful doses several times a day for mature animals with breathing difficulties. Dropperful doses, given every few hours, can counter rattles in the lungs of newborns. Usnea tincture is for sale in many places.

American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association

In October, I attended the AHVMA conference in Coventington Ky; I met many knowlegable and wonderful people there who take a holistic approach to veterinary medicine. As I am often asked by interested producers for alternate or herbal remedies, I asked Susun Weed if she would write or give me permission to publish some of her conference presentations on this blog. Over the next week I will post these as a series of articles, which I am sure you will find interesting and helpful