Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Herbal Medicines

A Peek inside my Medicine Cabinet
Our old house has a very small powder room off the kitchen on the first floor. This is the potty that we use most frequently downstairs and the one that our visitors use. I am always surprised at how many come out of the powder room and comment on how interesting the medicine cabinet is. I always want to ask them what they were looking for…..
Our medicine cabinet holds some basics – band aids and a cover for an ice pack. But we also have a variety of what others call “alternatives”.
Tea Tree Oil: safe to use directly on the skin, a wonderful anti-fungal, my favorite use is on my pierced ears when they get mildly infected. Also used on diaper rash, acne, wounds, and insect bites.
Lavender oil: again this pure essential oil is safe to use directly on the skin without a carrier oil. We use it for burns of all sorts, sunburn, stove burn. In my opinion it works better than aloe vera. It is also very relaxing and often relieves muscle pain and headaches. I also make a lavender floral spritz where I mix lavender essential oil with a small amount of alcohol (any kind) and then mix that with water. I put that in a spray bottle and spritz all through the little ones bedroom to calm them down into a restful night sleep. You can also use this floral water to spray on linens before ironing.
Bach Flower Rescue Remedy: my absolute favorite Bach Flower Remedy, I have it in all medicine cabinets and in my purse. Just a couple of drops under the tongue or even on the wrist to calm and quiet any trauma: nightmares, vaccinations, bad falls, also severe emotional stress – like a death. It truly does rescue you.
Boo-boo salve: I make my own but there are lots of high quality salves available at Herb Shops and Herb Festivals. My salve is made with olive oil infused with Calendula –very healing to the skin for cuts and scrapes, plantain which helps with itching from bug bites, yarrow to stop the flow of blood and finally comfrey a powerful wound healer to heal broken skin. I add beeswax to the infused olive oil to create a thick salve. We always try to use a spoon or Popsicle stick to take the salve out of the small jar, this will prevent bacteria from being introduced into the salve. I also make small batches because it will go rancid over time. We use this on any dry cut, scrape, splinter, even chapped skin or lips and more. For anything that is oozing we use the dry powdered yarrow and/or comfrey leaf that we store in small yogurt containers.
Ginkgo Tincture: For mom’s headaches. I get very tight vice like gripping headaches. Ginkgo is wonderful for those headaches. It is a vasodilator and increases cerebral circulation thereby loosening that tight grip. If you get headaches that feel like your head is going to explode at any moment – feverfew is probably more your headache herb.
Again I make my own, stay tuned as herbal preparations will be covered in future blog posts. This is also readily available at to purchase.
Echinacea extract both alcohol based for the adults and glycerin based for the kiddos: our favorite immune boosting herb for when you feel the crud coming on and for when you have the crud. We really use Echinacea heavily in these situations.
Motherwort: As the name suggests this is another herb for Mom, excellent for anxiety and irritation due to PMS or Menopause. It is also used for those “YOU KIDS* ARE ON MY LAST NERVE” moments. *feel free to substitute boss, husband, coworkers, lousy drivers, etc here. I keep a one ounce tincture bottle in my cabinet and the other ½ gallon refill bottle under the sink.
Finally Bitters: folks often ask me what I take on a daily basis. Bitters is the answer. This is a blend of warming and cooling bitters like dandelion root, angelica root, orange peel, gentian and peppermint. There are others but that is a formula that I like. It is bitter and you must taste it in order for the herbs to work. Bitters effect your entire digestive process from start to finish. Taken 30 minutes before meals, the action begins in your mouth where it increases saliva production. The increase in saliva production tells your tummy that food is on the way and to increase hydrochloric acid production,. This chain reaction continues the increase in hydrochloric acid production and tells your liver to get into gear – that food is on the way in turn increasing liver, pancreatic and small intestine digestive enzymes. It is truly amazing how it affects your absorption, and elimination. It is helpful for hypochloridia, malabsorption, chronic gas, indigestion and more. My herb teacher taught me to always remember and never forget “You are what you don’t excrete”.
Ok OK I admit it we have a few “alternatives” in our medicine cabinet. You will find a small bottle of acetaminophen tablets and some pink stomach relief tablets so the visitors who sneak a peak into our medicine cabinet don’t think we are totally off the wall.

Please Note: Seek medical attention as necessary. These herbal alternatives are not meant to take the place of your physician.


La Tea Dah said...

Are bitters something that can be purchased or do they need to be made individually? Are they similar to a tincture?

Thank you

Alice said...

I can see why everyone finds your medicine cabinet so interesting! I don't think they should be snooping though. I remember reading that you can foil the snoopers by putting marbles in your medicine cabinet so that they all roll out when the door is opened.

The bitters sound really interesting but the part about actually having to taste them kind of worries me.

Rosemary said...

The thought of the marbles rolling out is just tooo funny!

Bitters can be purchased, we sell them at The Rosemary House OR you can make your own. I take them in the form of a tincture. You could (yuck) drink it (yuck)as a tea but I prefer it as a tincture and take about 15 drops before meals just enough to get the bitter taste in my mouth so the enzymes start flowing. In great granny's day we ate more bitters - endive, dandelion leaf, etc then we do now so folks were getting bitters from diet. Thanks for reading and for posting too.

La Tea Dah said...

Thank you for the information regarding bitters. I think I'll start with purchasing rather than making my own. :) Will be in touch --- thanks!


Steph said...

Thank you for these great suggestions!