As cold winds are creeping in and the weather is turning for worse, I thought it would be good time to talk about what to hold in your medicine cabinet. Here I’m not talking about traditional cabinets full of pills in different sizes, but about herbs we keep at home for emergencies.
I think the medicine works at its best if combined with “traditional” medicine. Instead of traditional I would rather use Chemical, because there are plenty of arguments on which is the traditional and witch is not. The reality is, it gives better results if you know how to combine them without compromising one with the other. There are herbal remedies that don’t go well with pills, for example if you are taking blood thinning medicine, you should keep away from nettle and white clover just to be safe.
My herb medicine cabinet is built up on 3 principles:
- Don’t have anything in the cabinet that has to be measured in micro quantities. Such remedies are better kept for professionals. If it is hard to measure and poisonous in bigger quantities, it is wise to think twice if it should be in a cabinet everybody is using.
- Have nothing in the cabinet that can be harmful to anyone in the household. There is nothing funny about children playing doctor on house pets! And don’t be fooled by the idea that those little fingers can’t reach there.
- Everything MUST BE LABELED! With Latin name, common name, how to use, for what and who should not use it. Seems a lot of info, but if the rest of the family is not so into herbal medicine, then it is better that they know what’s in the box. I’m lucky for my family members are all with nature science background. If yours are not and you’re not sure of your handwriting, then at least put the common name and Latin name on the herb and make a separate sheet on what they are used for that’s always in the cabinet.
It seems hard at first and intimidating, but it really isn’t anything more than common sense. Think what you need for the family and follow it. Don’t over-think it either. You don’t need willow bark for penicillin – simple painkiller will do.
I separated our herbal needs in three categories:
- Simple cold
- Wounds that don’t need stitching.
I know I said you don’t need willow bark, but you honestly don’t need to reach after heavy painkiller if you’re experiencing mild headache either. I know as I’m one of those, who suffer migraines every now and then and I hate using strong painkillers on anything but emergencies. They are not for daily drugging. So what do you do?
Oregano blossoms (Origanum vulgare) – good if you have muscle pains, arthritic pains. It is mildly calming, so good for evenings after hard work and if you have headaches from stress or wind. Because it’s also kitchen herb, then I always have blossoms separate in the cabinet while leafs are in my spice rack. Though it is adorable to add blossoms to your meat dish too – mm!
St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) – Have a bad mood – that’s the herb for you! It’s used a lot in fight with depression, though for this they use tincture or tablets. Still, as a common household herb, it works wonders against inflammations, diarrhea, premenstrual behavioral problems (if you get angry and violent for example for no good reason). Also if you have problems with gums, it is one of the herbs to sooth the inflammation in the mouth. Overall one of the MUST HAVE in home cabinet.
Nettle (Urtica dioica)– If you feel under the weather so to speak, then it’s a good herb. It has high quantity of iron in it, so I keep it around already for that reason. One of the plants that’s good for common cold and women’s problems. Also one of the fantastic tasting tea, as far as I’m concerned, so I always have it in the cabinet.
Lime tree blossoms (Tilia cordata) – It has very strong effect on inflammations, so it is one of the best known teas against bronchitis, cold, soar throat, against fever, especially if you need to get child to sweat. Seriously tasty tea – even better honey. If possible, we love having that honey around.
Grey Reindeer Lichen (Cladina rangiferina)– The tea of this lichen tastes foul and that on the better days, but it is one of the best remedies in herbal world that I know against serious coughs. It also works on fever, but if you already have the cough, you probably will need to treat fever too. It is also used to treat TB, though I can’t vouch for that. But for the ability to treat the heavy barking cough – wonderful lichen!
German Camomil or Matricaria Camomila (Chamomilla recutita) – It is used commonly for stomach problems, for any inflammation wound on the skin, any skin problem really. Very good plant with too many good qualities to count up. Because it is wonderful plant for wounds, it is one of the plants that I keep around as oil infusions for creams.
Pot Marigold (Calendula officinalis) – Others like lavender, I don’t. I like marigolds. They are like small mirrors that capture sunlight on earth! Wonderful little things that I never go without. The second herb that I like keeping around both as a herb and oil infusion. One of the few things that has actually worked on my dog’s palms that she can eat later. I usually mix some of it together with camomil oil and add beeswax and it makes nice smooth cream that is safe for the little bugger to lick off after massaging it in. With remedies used for animals, that’s one thing you need to keep in mind if you’re making remedies for them – it has to be safe both outside and inside. Oh, and if you’re ever out of saffron (like who can actually afford it?), yet want the spring festival cakes to look wonderfully yellow – grind up some marigolds and use the petals. Only, grinding them is trick one has to learn first.
Wild Thyme (Thymus serpyllum)- it is good tea for common cold and coughing. And it adds good taste to meats, as the name hints. You should taste the honey of it!
Peppermint (Mentha × piperita)-I use the wild versions, but it hasn’t made much difference to me. It’s more about taste differences, but otherwise a wonderful plant. It is often used for different problems from prepping up your brain for nightshift or studies, freshening drink to begin the day with, peppermint mead – mm! Always nice thing to keep around.
There are plenty of herbs out there that I would love to have in my medicine cabinet. But for the most common problems in daily life, these have proved to be most efficient. They are simple plants, but they help and they are not something one should feel afraid. I have not listed everything I have at home here, but these nine are the ones I keep in the cabinet with other traditional medicine.
That’s my herbal medicine cabinet. What is yours? If you have only ten to choose to put it together, what would be your choices?