You might have noticed that I’m a little bit crazy about using herbs for health.
Especially normal, everyday herbs and plants. Herbs and plants that probably grow where you live. Plants that your great-grandma would have recognized and used in the days before corner pharmacies.
Have you ever had a cup of chamomile tea to relax? Or peppermint tea to soothe your stomach? That’s the kind of herbal medicine I’m talking about. Gentle, safe, effective, non-scary and simple.
There are lots of common herbs and plants that we can use to support our health and treat minor ailments. And you don’t have to study for years to use them. It’s as simple as keeping a few containers of herbs on hand, and making tea.
So let’s channel our inner wise-women and put together a basic kitchen apothecary of versatile herbal remedies!
Where can I get herbs?
I suggest buying loose, dried herbs at a herbal supply shop (Check out Neals Yard Remedies in the UK, or Mountain Rose Herbs in the USA). Buying herbs like usually means they are fresher (or at least have a use-by date), they look like the actual plant, and you can make your own tea blends. Store the herbs in jars and attach a nice label. Practical AND stylish.
Second best is buying tea bags of the herbs. If you’ve ever looked in a tea bag, the herbs are really crushed up and you’re never sure how old they are. But they work in a pinch.
Get mega extra credit if you grow your own herbs and dry them! I don’t even do this, but Grandma would really approve!
How do I use herbs for health?
Make them into herbal tea! You can use a single herb or make herbal tea blends. Herbal tea is gentle, soothing and has an added benefit of getting you to drink more water!
If you’re dealing with a chronic condition, drink 1-2 cups per day. If it’s acute (you’re really stressed out, or coming down with a cold), drink smaller amounts of tea more frequently (maybe sip on some tea throughout the day, 3-6 cups per day?)
Ooh I love this idea! How can I learn more?
Ok I’m ready! Let’s stock the apothecary…
Chamomile – digestive and inflammatory conditions, reduces stress, encourages relaxation. I wrote a whole post on chamomile here.
Peppermint – digestive conditions (gas, nausea, cramps, IBS), colds, flu, headaches, migranes. It’s also used to induce sweating and reduce fever. And it tastes great!
Lemon Balm – “Makes the heart merry. Quiets the heart and overactive mind.” Anxiety, tension headache, insomnia, bloating, gas … and Seasonal Affectiveness Disorder (SAD). One of my favorites. Tastes great too.
Rose – Include rose if you like the fragrance/flavor. Although rose doesn’t have a modern medicinal usage, it was traditionally used to soothe the heart and emotional pains – especially when dealing with loss of bereavement. I like to include it in relaxing, uplifting teas.
Sage – Astringent and anti-microbial – sage is your go-to herb for sore throats! Also useful for menopausal symptoms, poor memory, stress and anxiety.
Thyme – Brilliant for respiratory infections! Ear, nose and throat problems like colds, congestion and coughs. If you have a cold, try thyme tea with lemon and honey.
Extra Credit: Skullcap – Here’s one you probably haven’t heard of before, but Skullcap is one of my favorites. It’s used as a nerve tonic and is great for helping anxiety and nervous exhaustion, disturbed sleep and headaches. I also find it quiets the ‘runaway’ mind (or ‘monkey mind’, if you have studied yoga). I used this a lot before I discovered mindfulness through everyday activities.
Do you use herbal teas to treat everyday ailments? What are your favorites?
I’d love to hear how you got over your fear of using herbs … or if you haven’t yet, what stops you??