Have you been wondering about making your own herbal remedies? If you have, let me encourage to start now – I can guarantee that it will be something you will enjoy. Don’t be a procrastinator like I was. I wanted to do herbs for many years but just put it off because I didn’t know where to start, or was afraid, or didn’t want to spend the money.
Finally one day I signed up for a local herb walk. Within a few weeks I received a call – and just like that I began the journey that I had always wanted to take.
Let me just tell you a few of the reasons this path is such an incredible place to be.
- If you love the outdoors, as I always have, learning herbs adds a whole new dimension – like putting a snorkel on and sticking your face in the warm, blue water when standing waist deep in the ocean in Hawaii – the numbers and colors of fish that are right around your feet are incredible! That’s the way the outdoors becomes when you start looking for and identifying herbs in the wild! It’s amazing!
- Herbs were the only health care people had for thousands of years. They learned about them – what they were good for – how they worked – and they wrote it all down. Through their many years of experience we are able to enliven and enrich our own personal health care. And most of these things have been proven scientifically in study after study. It’s amazing!
- Most herbs work gently and naturally. When you use an herb you are using it in its entirety. Not only will it help the situation that you are working on, it will help a hundred other things in your body that you don’t even know need help. What great side effects! It’s amazing!
- You can make salves and balms that work 100 times better than a little tube of Neosporin. You can make salves for wounds, for bug bites, for hemorrhoids, for bruises, for sore muscles – for anything. It’s amazing.
- You can make lotions and hair care products that are free of all the commercial additives you purchase, that make your skin and hair healthy and strong. It’s amazing.
- You can pamper your sunburned skin with remedies that work far better than anything you can buy. It’s amazing.
- You can impress your friends and family by showing your creative genius, and save money as well, by making your own herbal gifts. It’s amazing.
So, my recommendation to you is to just get in there and do it.
Nourishing Herbal Infusions.
When you are beginning it can be a little intimidating, so I recommend starting with something easy but convincing.
One of the easiest things to begin with is an herbal infusion. An infusion is simply a strong version of tea. Unlike tea, which is steeped for 10-15 minutes, an infusion steeps for at least four hours, although to extract the greatest amount of nutrients, overnight is best. An easy habit to get into is cranking up the tea pot just before bedtime, bring the water to a boil, then add it to the herbs each night. When you get up in the morning just strain the herbs, add honey or whatever you like, put it in a quart jar and stick it in the refrigerator. Warm a cup any time of the day or you may even decide you like it cold. It is nutritious and delicious. It replaces that sweet snack you are sometimes tempted to indulge in, or renews you after exercise.
My favorite is a blend of equal parts of oatstraw, nettle, holy basil, and peppermint. It is delicious hot or cold. But your blends are never ending – all depending on the result you are hoping to get.
Nettles are full to the brim with calcium, iron, folic acid, chromium, magnesium, vitamin C, B vitamins niacin, riboflavin, and thiamin, choline, folic acid, zinc, carotene, and more.
Oatstraw contains goodly amounts of chromium, magnesium, silicon, calcium, niacin, vitamin A and more.
Holy Basil is a gentle nervine, my herbalist told me that if everyone would have a cup of Holy Basil a day “we would have world peace!”
Peppermint is full of niacin, folic acid, magnesium, calcium, vitamin C, B vitamins niacin, riboflavin, and thiamin, carotene and more. And it tastes delicious.
These herbs are good for the nervous system, for depression, for heart problems, they help lower cholesterol, give you strong bones and healthy hair, and will boost your overall well-being, etc. Combined in equal parts they make a very delicious tea.
A decoction is somewhat the same thing, but instead of using the aerial parts such as leaves and flowers, it uses the tougher parts of the plant, such as roots and berries and bark, which need more work to extract the nutrients. These you place in a pot, add water, and simmer on the stove from 15 to 45 minutes. Then strain, add honey or lemon – milk – maple syrup – stevia or whatever you like, and drink a cup full.
Purchasing your herbs from a reputable company makes this medium a safe and effective way to use herbs. It is definitely something that everyone should do. You can move on from nourishing herbs to healing herbs when needed, so get a good book, such as Rosemary Gladstar’s , “Herbal Recipes,” for great instruction and formulas.
The next thing I would do is try simple remedies for things such as colds, sore throats and ear aches, things that are always around. Learn how to make pastilles that we call “Slippery Elm Balls,” by simply mixing Slippery Elm Powder and Honey, and see how fast they will take care of sore throats. Or make your own cough syrup made from Elder Berries or Licorice Root and Wild Cherry Bark. Mullein/garlic oil is incredible for ear aches. And Ginger tea is the best for easing all the aches and pains that accompany colds.
When you get a pesky sty on your eye, simply steep a chamomile tea bag, let it cool and place it on the sty repeatedly and it will be gone before the day is over. Or brew up a cup of chamomile tea with fresh flowers, dip a soft, clean cloth in the tea and place it on the eye. Easy and very effective. This same thing works for pink eye.
You can try all of these things and if they don’t work you can still head off to that germ filled waiting room at the doctor’s office so he can tell you to drink lots of water and get plenty of sleep. But they will work! And you will be so excited when you see that you can have control over your health and the health of your family.
Next I would go for making an all around healing salve. The first salve I made included Plantain, Comfrey, St. John’s Wort, and Calendula. Here’s what I know about each of these:
Plantain is such a great herb to know (the herb – not the banana). It grows in every park and school ground or rest area in the world, I think. You want to pick it where it is the cleanest – not where people spit and dogs mark their territory. If you have a bee sting or an ant bite – or any other kind of sting – just chew it up and place it on the sting. It will completely fix you up. It will draw out the stinger and any poison. Replace it when it dries if you are still feeling pain. I put a wad on my sting and hold it there with tape or a band aid and by the end of the day there is no sign of a sting. There is no itching, no burning, no stinging – nothing. It’s amazing. (Chewing a plantain leaf is also good for your teeth and gums – so do it frequently even if you don’t have a sting.)
Comfrey Root is a healer. It closes up cuts and wounds so fast that they encourage you not to use it on wounds that may have debris in them until they are cleaned out. It is also known as knit bone, because it helps to heal strains and sprains and speeds up healing of breaks. It contains calcium, potassium, phosphorus and allantoin, which speeds cell renewal. Comfrey Root should probably only be used externally.
St. John’s Wort stops bleeding. Even when in the wild if someone falls and cuts their knee, or if a grizzly bear takes a bite out of your forearm, immediately apply fresh St. John’s Wort and it will help the bleeding stop until you can get somewhere to dress the cut properly. It is antiviral, astringent and sedative, as well as anti-inflammatory. It also works wells on hemorrhoids and varicose veins.
Calendula is a skin herb. It has an affinity for the skin and heals and nourishes it. It is antiseptic and antifungal as well as anti-inflammatory and relieves muscle spasms. And it heals wounds. When you drink it as a tea or an infusion it treats stomach pain and swollen lymph nodes.
You can see why salve made with these ingredients is going to work well on almost anything.
Making salve is easy. There is nothing to fear. First, you need to make infused oil. This is a simple process. You can either make single infused oils of each of the above oils, or combine all four together and make an oil exclusively for salve. To the oil you add beeswax and essential oil if you desire. And you pretty much have an herbal salve. Visit my website, www.namas-natural-remedies-for-health.com, for specific directions on how to make infused oils and herbal salves (and all the other stuff).
That is enough to get you started. When you make these simple things and see the success you have it will inspire you to search for more and more. It really is a great, exciting, liberating journey. So, enjoy the journey.