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Healing Herbs for Natural Remedies

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Use these common healing herbs to stock your herbal medicine cabinet. Be ready to treat everyday ailments with easy to find and frugal natural herbs.

A collage of photos including ripe elderberries, a blooming dandelion, and a basket of freshly harvested mint with text overlay.

Most of these herbal plants can be grown in home gardens, even container gardens, or forage naturally. However, even if that isn’t possible they are easy to find dried. Keep jars of these close at hand and find relief from common colds, upset stomachs, and more. 

Plants used for medicine was how our ancestors took care of themselves and their families. It wasn’t exotic healing plants from far away but rather what was close at hand. Many of those same herbal remedies have undergone scientific study for their usefulness meaning we can continue to use them with confidence.

Obviously, we all have different health needs and because of that our herbal medicine choices are also different and individual.  That being said, it does seem like there are a few herbal remedies that are easy for beginners to start embracing while also being great staples for the more experienced herbal healer.

Anise Hyssop

Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) does taste like anise meaning it meaning it makes for a flavorful licorice-like tea. Use the tea to relieve congestion.

Anise Hyssop also makes a soothing bath tea for sore muscles and frazzled nerves.

Anise hyssop in bloom in the garden.

Use an herbal dream pillow filled with anise hyssop to help prevent bad dream.

Calendula

Calendula (Calendula officinalis) is a beautiful flower in the garden but also an incredibly useful herb in our arsenals. It has many soothing and anti-bacterial properties, making it great for many topical applications.

Calendula flower in bloom.

Save the flower heads to make an infused oil for making healing salves, lotions, and more. 

Chamomile

Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) like mint is an herbal remedy most everyone knows about even if they don’t particularly embrace herbal healing. 

A cup of chamomile tea is often used to relax before bedtime. Chamomile tea bags are easily found at the grocery store for frugal alternatives.

Chamomile in bloom in the garden.

Beyond just being a soothing blend for the brain. Chamomile tea is also a bitter which can help aid digestion, calm acid stomachs, and more. 

Chamomile is also soothing to the skin. Infuse it in oil to add to homemade soaps and lotions.

Dandelion

The humble dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is a powerhouse of healing from its root to its flower. Don’t overlook it and even more don’t spray it. Leave it for the bees if nothing else but harvest a bit of dandelion for use in many herbal remedies.

Make a jar of dandelion infused olive oil as a treatment for arthritic joints. Rub it on anytime inflammation begins to take root. As dandelion can also soften the skin and relieve itching, it’s a great addition to healing salves. 

dandelion blossoms in a jar of olive oil.

Dandelion root is also good at helping flush the liver. It’s long been used as a treatment for gout. But it can also help with less serious problems.

A tincture of dandelion root can be taken to aid digestion, especially after eating too much at those holiday buffets.

Dandelion root tea has a bitter coffee-like flavor that can also help ease digestive troubles. 

Elderberry

Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) is increasingly common and because of its ability to fight colds and flu increasingly common. These days it’s even easy to buy in premade tinctures, gummies, and more.

Ripe elderberries hanging from the bush.

Homemade medicinal elderberry syrup is easy to make and store. It’s also more frugal, especially if one can grow or forage their berries.

Elderberry tincture is also easy and frugal to make at home.

Lavender

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is beautiful and of course the scent in heavenly. All that beauty and perfume give us a hint of how it can help the body and mind. 

Inhaling the scent in dream pillows or sachets can definitely help bring calm to a busy mind. The scent can also promote sleep making it ideal for baths before bed.

Lavender blooming in the garden.

Those same calming benefits can be had by using lavender internally. Drink a cup of lavender tea, infuse it in honey, etc. as a way to calm mild nervousness and anxiety. 

Lavender is also anti-fungal making it an ideal addition to infused oils and healing salves.

Use the skin softening and enriching qualities of lavender in homemade lotions, body butters, and balms. 

Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) is a perennial herb that is hard to get rid of once it takes root. Thankfully, lemon balm has a multitude of uses both edible and medicinal

Lemon balm is great for calming anxiety. Drink it in tea, make it into a tincture, and infuse it in honey. Take a little whenever the day begins to feel overwhelming to find a little mental stillness.

Close up of lemon balm leaves in the garden.

Find relief from cold sores by infusing lemon balm into oil and using it to make a lip balm. Lemon balm has been studied extensively for its use in treating cold sores. Granted medical applications are likely stronger but this homemade herbal remedy can bring relief.

Mint

Mint (Methna) is such a common, regular herb that most of us overlook. And yet, it’s one herbal remedy almost everyone uses. A cup of peppermint tea has long been used to soothe nausea and upset stomachs.  

Infuse mint in honey for a sweet treat that can also calm upset stomachs.

Homegrown mint in a basket.

Mint and lemon balm combined for a cup of tea can also help a body relax for sleep. 

Plantain

Plantain (Plantago Major) is likely already growing in your yard or garden and while these humble green leaves aren’t much to look at, they do pack a strong healing punch. 

Fresh plantain can be bruised and pressed directly onto bug bites to help ease itch and sting. 

That same itch-relieving quality makes it an ideal addition to all-purpose healing salves.

Plantain leaves in the grass.

A tincture or tea of plantain leaves has traditionally been used for coughs and bronchitis. 

Sage

Sage (Salvia officinalis) is tasty for a wide range of culinary dishes but like many other herbal plants it’s medicinal too. 

Sage leaves sitting on a white table.

Sage oxymel is an amazing infusion of vinegar, honey, and sage. This tart and sweet elixir is the perfect home remedy for sore throats.

Sage tea can cool down those hot flashes due to hormonal changes and menopause. 

Valerian

Valerian is a powerful sleep remedy. Traditionally, the root is used in tincture form.And let’s be honest the root is a bit stinky and the tincture isn’t the most amazing flavor – but it is very effective.

Valerian roots still attached to the plant sitting on a white table.

For some, the root might just be a little too strong. A tincture of the flowers and leaves can also be used for the same insomnia and anxiety relief. The flower tincture is less strong which might be better for some folks. It may not linger as long in the morning as the root tincture may for some folks. 

Experiment with both tinctures if possible at different times to figure out which is most effective for the folks in your household. 

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.  

A collage of photos with ripe elderberries and calendula flowers sitting on a tray with text overlay.

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.

Words of Caution

As with any herbs or medications always talk to a trained herbalist, doctor, or trained medical professional. Herbs are natural but not always safe for every person. Double check allergies, some aren’t safe for pregnant or nursing women, some herbs don’t mix with prescription medication or certain health conditions and more. Safety first!

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Gwen

Monday 19th of March 2018

I've been out of Sage since the last time I made tinctures need to grab some more. Believe it or not, my shrink is huge on it to deal with one of the side effects of a medication that works really well otherwise. Like you mentioned, it's great for the hot flashes of menopause along with night sweats or general hyperhidrosis that can be a side effect of many medications. (I've been the night sweat queen since a few months after starting this damn medication, yet other options have failed.)

The others I use all of the time are echinacea, licorice root, hops, and chamomile. Licorice, besides being soothing for your throat can mask a ton of herbs that taste rather nasty when used in teas. Oh, and white willow bark, both powered and regular dried pieces. Obviously, my list could go on and on, but those are the most general multi-use ones that I keep and seem to go through like gangbusters. :-)

Elise

Monday 18th of December 2017

How long can you store everything? And what do you use to store them in?thank you

Kathie Lapcevic

Monday 18th of December 2017

I keep everything for about a year and store them in glass jars in a dark cabinet.

Ericca

Friday 27th of May 2016

what is your view on anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) versus true hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis). I am just starting my journey with herbal remedies, and i have read some articles claiming that anise hyssop does not have the medicinal properties that true hyssop does and that only true hyssop should be used. And other articles such as yours use anise hyssop.

Homespun Seasonal Living

Sunday 29th of May 2016

It's like anything, everyone had their opinion. That being said both have amazing flavor and medicinal properties. I'm in the middle of an herbalist course and they actually use both - use what feels right to you.

Mary

Sunday 24th of January 2016

I'm curious about what you refer to as "leaky gut." Is that heartburn? Diarrhea? It's not a phrase I've heard before.

My favorite herb for winter is the versatile mullein, although I'm also very fond of callendula and arnica. I've been experimenting with pine needle salves recently; opening a jar of the salve is like smelling the outdoors.

Mare

Monday 25th of January 2016

I'm another mullein fan. Not only is it a great medicinal, but it grows in any climate and is a great way to utilize those far less than perfect areas where nothing else will grow. It thrives in those "wasteland" areas. Plantain is, also, not particular about where you plant it and is another amazing medicinal. If you are growing mullein and want to try growing plantain, make sure not to plant them in the same area. They work great together medicinally, but neither will grow well if planted together.

Homespun Seasonal Living

Monday 25th of January 2016

Leaky gut is a medical condition that is often associated with autoimmune disorders. It's mostly used by alternative health practitioners, it isn't recognized by main stream medicine at this point.

Yay for pine needle salves! Mullein is an amazing herb that I need to use more often.

Johnny

Sunday 24th of January 2016

Hi Kathie, My Grandmother told me when I was very young that cayenne was a magical plant, and to always have it on hand. She used it a lot in many ways. Do you use it, and can it be added to these recipes? Love your work, and thank you for the info.

Gwen

Monday 19th of March 2018

I add cayenne and cinnamon to my Mexican "cocoa" mix. I use the quotes because I sneak some other healthy things in there that no one notices as well.

The other thing that I use cayenne for is a pain/muscle salve along with turmeric. I infuse my chosen oil with both and then make a salve or rub as usual.

Fair warning: the research studies on both turmeric and cayenne used as a topical treatment show that it basically has to be used non-stop for best results. So while it isn't great for those occasional pains that sports enthusiasts get, it is great for those that get constant pain from things like arthritis or constant pain from repetitive tasks.

Also, depending on your infusion/salve mix, turmeric can stain things if it's in high concentrations, so I tend to be cautious and warn others if I share it. I use it on my shoulders and wrists because if I'm not on the computer, I am lugging things in my backpack. It smells much better than BenGay or TigerBalm and if I ever start getting plagued by the arthritis that runs in my family, I will start using it those places too. My mom, already uses it for her hands and she is one of those people that are really hard to turn onto herbal medicine, so it must work for her.

Since I've already gone on and on, I'll add more detail. I call my recipe St. Margaret's Dragon. In part because of the Saint's story and in memory of my grandmother and her arthritis, Margaret. I passed it onto my Hispanic former MIL and she gets a huge kick out of the name, being Catholic too, and it helps her gnarled hands. She was a fountain of herbal information from her cultural knowledge that I miss talking to as often as I used to. Luckily, we all still keep in touch.

Homespun Seasonal Living

Monday 25th of January 2016

Cayenne is amazing for a multitude of things. I'm a bit of a wimp when it comes to the heat, however. It's a great thing to have around and I do use it now and then but not tons.

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