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Herbalist, a healing tradition of women

By Susan Shelly
Herbalist practices craft that was common among women of an earlier era. Like her ancestors, Susan Hess understands and respects the offerings of nature, and puts to use the flowers and herbs that trail over fence posts and spread across the gardens and fields of her idyllic farm. A therapeutic herbalist, Hess, 48, cuts and gathers yarrow, plantain, dandelion, violet, catnip, elder, mint, lemon balm and more from the South Coventry Township, Chester County, property. From their leaves, roots, flowers or berries, she crafts teas, soaps, salves, oils, jellies and flavorings, each with properties that have been recognized for centuries.

“Not too long ago, every woman had a little kitchen garden where she grew the herbs she needed to care for her family,” Hess said. “Every woman knew that catnip would bring down a fever or that yarrow could help stop bleeding.” Hess, who comes from a Pennsylvania German background, is particularly interested in the healing practices of that culture, and humbled to carry on its herbal traditions. “The Pennsylvania Dutch knew all about using herbs in their daily lives,” she said. “They had wonderful traditions.”

Read the original article at: Reading Eagle

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