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Healing Wise ...
with Susun Weed

Brush Your Teeth the Wise Woman Way

One good habit that most of us have is brushing our teeth morning and night. And what a large selection of toothbrushes and toothpastes we have to choose from.

Every time I leave the dentist after my regular tooth cleaning, I am handed a new toothbrush and a small tube of toothpaste. The message is clear: "Brush your teeth with toothpaste."

Have you ever read the ingredients in toothpaste?  When I did, I realized that I would never consume most of the things I was brushing my teeth with. And I am consuming them if I used toothpaste, even if I don't swallow. Artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners, and essential oils are not on my dinner table, why was I putting them on my teeth, in my mouth?

I often asked myself what my ancestors would do instead what my modern culture does, but I don't want the teeth of my ancestors, which weren't actually healthy for very long – it was rare for someone of sixty or older to have any teeth left at all – so that line of inquiry seemed unproductive. Weston Price is famous for showing the beautiful teeth of people who don't use toothpaste or toothbrushes (though chew sticks are common) and who have no white sugar or white flour nor any processed food of any kind their diet, leading some to believe that eliminating refined foods freed them from oral hygiene. As one dentist pointed out to me: "You don't have the genetics of those indigenous people. Your ancestors have been living on white flour for generations. You need modern dentistry. You need to brush your teeth. And floss too!

Many indigenous people use special twigs as "chew sticks" for dental hygiene. They break a twig in half, splay and soften the broken end by chewing on it, then use the splayed end as a brush to remove plaque and invigorate the gums. All the better if the twig is from a tree with antibacterial properties, or an aromatic shrub.

In my area, the Northeastern part of North American, twigs of staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina) or twigs of cavity-fighting xylitol-rich sweet birch (Betula nigra) were used. Oak, dogwood, and maple twigs were used in other parts of the Native Americas. In India neem twigs are still used. Bedouins use antiseptic arak twigs. And in Africa, you can brush your teeth with a miswak twig, which is naturally high in anti-cavity fluoride.

Pine needles and pine twigs make excellent toothbrushes. In addition to removing debris and plaque, they kill bacteria, and freshen the breath. Aromatic shrubs with brushy leaves or twigs – like rosemary, tulsi, thyme, and lavender – and young aromatic tree twigs – like bay, cinnamon, and sassafras – counter bacterial growth in the mouth and scent the breath.

Modern teeth are brushed with non-electric ionic toothbrushes which attract plaque off the teeth and with electric toothbrushes which do a much better job than even the best manual brushing.

It isn't really the toothbrush that bothers me though; it is the toothpaste (and mouthwash) I have an issue with. If I don't use a naturally antibacterial chew stick, but a toothbrush, what could I put on it to help my teeth stay healthy?

My dentist said she could order an organic, essential-oil-free toothpaste from Germany. But it cost so much I figured it would be better to skip toothpaste altogether. (And she said that would actually be fine, as the brushing itself does the majority of the work.)  The druggist at the local pharmacy recommended hydrogen peroxide, and the bottle told me that it would "debride" my teeth. My neighbor said she preferred baking soda and sea salt. Both work well, but I dislike being a consumer and relying on stores to supply my needs.

I wondered which easy-to-find-or-grow herbs could be used for oral health and well-scrubbed teeth. Antibacterial herbs can help prevent gum disease and tooth decay. Astringent herbs can tighten gum tissues. Three herbs combine these properties and have a long history of use in oral health. Echinacea (Echinacea augustifolia, E. purpura), sage (Salvia officinalis), and yarrow (Achillea millefolium). 

A bottle of my own yarrow tincture, made in 100 proof vodka from fresh flowering plants (white flowers, not yellow or red), now resides in my bathroom. If yarrow doesn't grow in your area, you can easily grow sage and make a 100 proof vodka tincture of the fresh leaves at any time. You can also easily grow echinacea and make a tincture of the fresh roots, but they have to be at least three years old before you can start your tincture. A drop or two of tincture on my toothbrush is all it takes. 

After brushing – with or without a dentifrice – a splash of pine needle, mint, rosemary, or sage vinegar in water makes a wonderful antibacterial mouth wash.
Even my dentist commented on the improvement in my oral health, especially the health of my gums, since I stop using toothpaste.

Green blessings are everywhere.





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: www.wisewomanbookshop.com

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
at: www.wisewomanbookshop.com

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
at: www.wisewomanbookshop.com
For excerpts visit: www.menopause-metamorphosis.com

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
at: www.wisewomanbookshop.com

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: www.wisewomanbookshop.com

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
Order at: www.wisewomanbookshop.com



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