As we get closer to winter, I've been taking stock of my herbal medicine cabinet and deciding what to restock. There are certain items, I like to keep in stock most of the time and none of it terribly exotic or mysterious. Generally speaking my herbal supplies are homegrown or foraged very easily in my local area (I do supplement with purchased herbs when necessary). I do believe that we all have different health needs and because of that our herbal medicine choices are also different and individual. That being said, however, it does seem like there are a few standards that are easy for beginners to start embracing while also being great staples for the more experienced herbal healer. If you need a few ideas on what to keep on hand, here are my favorite 10 healing herbs to keep stocked in the home medicine cabinet.
1. Anise Hyssop
I dry this mostly and use it for a calming tea that also helps relieve congestion. It's also quite nice in a bath. I don't keep tons of it around but Anise Hyssop always has a space in my medicine cabinet.
I keep a jar of calendula-infused oil for making healing salves, lotions, and more. It has many soothing and anti-bacterial properties, making it great for many topical applications. I also keep a jar of dried petals handy for tea. Calendula & plantain tea is supposed to be a treatment for leaky gut.
I always have a jar of dandelion flower infused olive oil on hand. It's a great treatment for arthritic joints and we rub it on whenever we feel inflammation taking root. I also use the infused oil in healing salves. Dandelion root is also good at helping flush the liver and helping us ease the ill-effects of eating too much at those holiday buffets.
I make large batches of medicinal syrup but I also make some tincture. Elderberry is my go-to cold & flu fighter. The minute I start to feel a little something coming on, I start taking some syrup or tincture and keep it up until my immune system feels back to normal.
6. Lemon Balm
This is a favorite of mine, simply because I really enjoy the flavor in my herbal tea and infused in honey. Lemon balm tea is also generally considered to have a calming effect on the nerves. Having lemon balm in the medicine cabinet means I can also use it in my lip balm to help treat cold sores.
I dry a lot of mint. I also infuse a bunch of it honey. For the most part, it's simply that I enjoy mint, but the tummy soothing qualities of mint can not be denied. Any bit of upset stomach and I reach for the mint tea. I also find that mint helps me relax at the end of the stressful day.
As I said with the calendula, I combine dried plantain with calendula for a tea that is supposed to help with leaky gut. I also like having it around infused in oil so that I can make healing salves for general purposes around our homestead. A tincture is supposed to help with various ailments as well, though I haven't needed it as of yet, having it dried in my cabinet, however; means I can experiment with a tincture when I'm ready.
I keep a bunch of dried sage around for culinary uses, there's no denying how very tasty it can be in certain dishes. Beyond that, however; I keep a giant jar of sage infused honey to mix with tea or just hot water when a sore throat shows up. It's a great way to soothe that scratchiness in my experience. I haven't needed it yet, but I also understand that sage is a great treatment for hot flashes.
This amazing, albeit slightly stinky, root is our go-to insomnia remedy. A tincture of valerian root helps us fall asleep with ease and calms any kind of mental anxiety with which we might be struggling.
Keep it Personal:
We all need different herbs and remedies in our home herbal arsenals – we all have different bodies and issues and items needing attention. This isn't meant to be an exhaustive list, but rather just a sampling of what I keep and how I use it to hopefully inspire and encourage. We don't need everything in our herbal medicine chests, we just need what works for us and sometimes it's a matter of keeping it simple.
Which herbs are most important to your herbal medicine chest?