my dear friend joe

My apologies to my newsletter family—I promised a good sweat and I did not deliver!  Let me tell you about my dear friend Joe Pye.

There is a strong oral history about Joe; some say he was a Mohegan healer, some say he was a freed slave.  In any case his power of healing was such that even now, hundreds of years past his time, this amazing plant still bears his name here in the Appalachians—far south of where he wrought his cures during typhus outbreaks in New England.

Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium spp., previously Eupatorium; there are reasons I gave up botany!) stands very tall, just finishing its bloom here and nearly always covered in butterflies.  It is strong medicine, powerfully diuretic and diaphoretic.  The leaves, dried and brewed, make a wonderfully flavored tea, but I prefer to save it for when I need its powerful detoxifying medicine.  A few tablespoons of the dried leaves and flowers, left to steep in boiling water for 15-30 minutes, can be sipped to induce a strong sweat.  I like to do this when I can feel the onset of sickness, and oftentimes it is enough to keep me from succumbing.  After you sweat, it’s important to shower to rinse off whatever toxins you just shed, and to replenish with water or miso broth. Joe Pye tea can also be used as a strong anti-microbial wash for external wounds.

The roots of Joe Pye, cut, dried, and brewed at about two tablespoons to two cups of water and simmered for twenty minutes to form a decoction, are a wonderful diuretic treatment for urinary tract infections and kidney stones.  Please make sure before you dig that there is plenty of Joe Pye around to reseed—we need our bee and butterfly plants to thrive!  And, as with all things, Joe Pye shouldn’t be overused.  Enough is medicine, too much is…well, too much.

This morning when I woke from dreams my pillow was covered in tiny feathers—I was startled and amazed, as I’d been dreaming of flight, and wasn’t quite sure where my dream ended and reality began.  Then I realized the feathers were tiny seed-clouds from the Joe Pye flower I’d been wearing in my hair the night before.  Magic indeed.



September 10, 2013 · 4:08 pm

5 responses to “my dear friend joe

  1. You certainly know how to blend the dry stuff in with the magical. I wonder if I can get Joe Pye Weed seed here in Australia (let alone Tasmania 😉 ). Sounds like an incredibly valuable herb to me. Kudos on reminding people to leave some to reseed. Too may people get greedy and reduce the native population significantly.

    • it’s seeding here right now…if you email your honest-to-goodness-real-geographical address to me I can slip a few seeds in an envelope! (if anyone is feeling hot and bothered about that, because native vs. invasive etc., check this out: VICARIANCE THEORY OF JUMP DISPERSAL. i learned those five words before I gave up botany. 🙂

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