I have a very good friend that requested this blog post. She, like many people, want some basic information about herbs. I’ll get to that in a minute.
First, I thought it might be interesting to hear my journey into herbalism. I was raised with a western medical mind. We went to the doctor for antibiotics, steroids, and vaccines. I used pain killers for many things. This (among many other things) led me to abuse my body later on by using copious amounts of caffeine and also alcohol which numbed some emotional pain.
I never listened to my body.
When I married, I was dealing with some severe anxiety and panic attacks. I was on an antidepressant and had been for 6 years. My body was screaming at me to find a solution.
Enter our homeopathic doctor. Dr. Floyd saved Jordan (my husband) from his PTSD that lingered since his mission to Guatemala along with anxiety too. It took a little while but I finally listened to Jordan and gave Dr. Floyd a try. Within three months I was off my anxiety medication, was panic-attack free and my anxiety continued to plummet. Today I do not experience any anxiety and the panic attacks (and cold sores) are long gone!
Then I found out I was pregnant and my mother in-law introduced me to Dr. Christopher. He was an herbalist. I read his book, Herbal Home Health Care and I then proceeded to read a few more herbal books, cover to cover. They were interesting and empowering. I was able to realize that our bodies were divinely created and given the proper nutrition, herbs, and self-care, they could heal themselves of most things. I later learned that I can use energy healing to assist the body and release the emotional attachments to illnesses, emotional traumas, and addictions and I continue to use all of the above when any member of our family is sick.
It is freeing to have confidence to know how to treat an illness, especially when you can use herbs. There are so many wonderful herbs available, but here are the top herbs in my pantry and a few ways they can be useful. First though, I’ll start with a few book recommendations. Books are a must for any budding herbalist. It is great to quickly find things in the index too. There are links to the books I have listed below that you can find at the bottom of this article.
Herbal Home Health Care, by Dr. John R. Christopher
This book is wonderful. His son now runs his Herbal School and still makes his herbal formulas which can be purchased online.
Health Through God’s Pharmacy, by Maria Treben
I love this book and I would have loved to have met this woman. I love that she uses real stories in her book. There is an updated version of this book that has ailments categorized alphabetically, but I prefer this original version. Both are great.
There are plenty of other modern herbal books out there and I own a few. Check them out at the library to peruse them before purchasing. (See two of the ones I love at the end of this article!)
(There are many other uses for the herbs I have listed below.) This is my go-to herbs/herbal kit. This makes it sound like I have a trunk full of herbs, but really they are in my linen closet and in my kitchen cabinets:
1. Raspberry leaf: To clean the blood of toxins and impurities, antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, tones uterus during pregnancy, eases cramping during menstruation, the all around “woman” herb, helps with fever. When I use this: Almost constantly. We usually have a big batch brewed and in the fridge for anyone that wants it. My kids were started on this tea just after they started having other liquids besides breast milk and so they enjoy drinking it. We use it whenever someone is sick, especially when a sore throat is involved. The usual dosage is 1 tsp per cup of boiling water. I stuff a reusable tea bag full of this herb and fill my largest glass bowl with boiling water. How’s that for specific?
2. Comfrey: Blood cleaner, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, helps heal wounds inside and out. When I use this: During pregnancy I would make a tea of equal parts comfrey, red raspberry leaf, and alfalfa and drink a quart a day. It has many vital nutrients in it. I will add this to our regularly brewed tea to help clean our bodies. If there is a deep wound, making a poultice with this herb will speed healing and reduce inflammation. I also use this in my calendula salve.
3. Catnip: Slight laxative properties, helps with gas and bloating, and fevers. When I use this: during a fever that just won’t seem to leave. I make a cup of this (allow to cool significantly) and give the kids an enema. The catnip and slightly warmed water will motivate the bowels and usually the fever will disappear. This also helps the kids stay hydrated. The catnip helps the fever along while also removing the waste (which is usually the cause of the fever) from the body. We also use this when we’ve eaten too much cheese to help with bloating! Chamomile could be added to this section and can be used for basically all of the same symptoms with a much nicer taste.
4. Cayenne: circulatory issues, blood pressure problems, wounds, toothache, hemorrhoids. When I use this: when I have a cut that just won’t stop bleeding. Packing a wound with cayenne will stop the bleeding and stabilize blood pressure. Drinking cayenne in water will stabilize blood pressure quickly. I drink this regularly to assist my body in whatever it is doing at the time. This, along with herbal calcium are about the only supplements I take regularly. Cayenne will help the body heal in whatever area it is needed. Cayenne is intelligent!
5. Calendula Salve: You can buy this or find a recipe to make it (it is much cheaper in the long run to make your own). A good calendula salve, in my opinion, will have calendula, mullein, comfrey, plantain, and burdock. Added bonuses are: dandelion and tigers balm. Use on burns, cuts, scrapes, rashes, dry skin, cold sores, and I’ve even heard of success with poison ivy! It is great and cuts down on scarring and oftentimes makes a wound disappear leaving no mark.
6. Yarrow: Another woman’s herb. If taken regularly, or randomly, womanly complaints disappear. Helps a fever along. (There is basically an innumerable amount of uses for yarrow. It is worth researching.) When I use this: whenever I feel the need to drink some.
7. Peppermint: Great for headaches, bloating, improving circulation, stomachaches, and heartburn. When I use this: I use this if there are any digestive issues, or if I get a rare headache. I also used it during pregnancy to help with nausea.
8. Elderberry Syrup: This syrup is great for all colds and the flu. We use this throughout the winter too. You can use this daily and then increase if you feel you are going to be getting sick. Again, it is cheaper in the long run to make your own. There are plenty of recipes online.
9. Alfalfa: I have heard a person can live off of alfalfa sprouts. It contains SO MANY nutrients, vitamins, minerals, good fats, and protein! While we do eat the sprouts, I also add the leaves to our tea mixture. It is helpful for basically any ailment or to improve or maintain health. When I use it: I add it to our tea mixtures regularly. I also add it to our smoothies and I also make a green drink.
10. Apple Cider Vinegar: Okay, so this is not an herb, but I think it must be included. Apple cider vinegar is antiviral, antibacterial, and anti fungal. It helps balance the pH level in your body. It assists with digestion and metabolism. And on, and on, and on. There are SO many ways to use ACV. When I use this: Anytime I feel any sinus pressure or sore throat. I drink about a tablespoon in a little bit of water three times per day. The kids also enjoy drinking this throughout the winter when I make it like this: 1 tsp ACV, 1 tsp honey, 1 glass of warm water.
These are the basic herbs I use to take care of my family for overall health and during sickness. I have others that are in my pantry at all times: pau d’arco, plantain, slippery elm, chamomile, peppermint, dandelion, stinging nettle, and more!
Invest in some books. Invest in some herbs. Feel empowered. Feel healthy. Allow your body to heal itself and remember how wonderful it is! Your body was made for you!