People are increasingly turning to natural remedies to treat their family’s health problems. But while you can usually find a 24-hour pharmacy open to buy Children”s Tylenol for your child’s fever, most herbal stores keep conventional hours so you are out of luck if illness strikes past 6pm and you want to treat it naturally. That is unless you keep some herbs and remedies in your home to use regularly.
Herbs can be purchased in various forms and Katolen Yardley, a Herbalist who is also the Dispensary Manager at Gaia Garden, Canada’s largest herbal store, and a college instructor in herbal medicine, points out that “in a medicine cabinet with expiry dates being a concern and fast acting preparations of importance, various tinctures and one or two salves and powders may be practical. Tinctures have the longest shelf life, are faster acting than teas and can be taken internally as well as externally. For skin ailments a cream or a salve is convenient and quick to use. Herbal teas are a soothing addition to a kitchen cupboard, ideal for digestive complaints, fevers and to relax the body in times of stress.”
When storing herbs, Yardley says it is important to remember “dried herbs have a shelf life of about one year and should be stored in a glass jar in a cool dark cupboard away from excessive moisture and heat. Tinctures have a much longer shelf life, with a 3 or 4 year expiry date on most products.”
The following herbs, homeopathies and essential oils can be kept on hand for simple health and first-aid situations. You do not need to keep all of the listed remedies in your home. Choose the ones that will work best for your particular health concerns.
Keep a plant on your kitchen windowsill and when needed, cut a leaf and apply the gel to soothe burns, hemorrhoids, insect bites, and rashes. The gel is antibacterial and can be used as a deodorant. Aloe Vera can also be used internally as a mild laxative. Dilute gel with water and use to treat yeast infections and athlete’s foot.
An excellent antiseptic that can be used to soothe burns and cuts, relieve the itch and sting of insect bites and heal skin rashes. Use as a gargle for mouth ulcers
An excellent children’s remedy, it calms an irritable child, relieves indigestion and achiness, promotes perspiration in fevers, relieves headaches, soothes teething pain, and acts as a decongestant.
This herb reduces stress and anxiety and makes an excellent tea for bedtime.
May be used to soothe wounds and stomach troubles, relieve teething discomfort, and is highly recommended for diarrhea.
Can be used as a wash for irritated eyes.
Promotes healing of wounds and broken bones.
Should not be ingested due to concerns about liver toxicity
An antispasmodic herb used for menstrual or digestive cramping. For period pains, begin taking 1 tsp of tincture 3 times per day 2 or 3 days before cramping is expected to begin
An important herb to use for infections and to use externally as a wash for wounds. Can be used to treat bites and stings and to prevent illness.
A powerful antiseptic useful for bacterial infections and helpful in the treatment of ulcers, arthritis, rheumatic and bronchial complaints.
For wounds, sprinkle some powder on cuts to dry up pus or blood.
For sore throats: place 1 tsp of powder in warm water and gargle frequently throughout the day
This herb can be used externally to treat burns and cuts and soothe toothaches.
Used internally it can relieve diarrhea, bloating and cramps and helps heal bruises, relieves hemorrhoids, decreases heavy menstrual bleeding and reduces fever.
Yarrow powder can be sprinkled in cuts to stop bleeding.
Use as a gargle for a sore throat
Lavender essential oil
Helps induce sleep, alleviates stress, and reduces depression.
Can be applied topically to heal wounds, sprains, insect bites, athlete’s foot, muscle aches and earaches. Applied to burns several times a day will prevent blistering and soothe the area.
Peppermint essential oil
Inhale as needed for headaches.
Use externally for itchy skin, hemorrhoids, toothaches, muscle aches and insect bites.
A mixture of six essential oils that can be inhaled to treat colds and used as a rub to treat pain.
Tea Tree Oil
Can be used for acne, burns, insect bites, infections and wounds, bad breath, cold sores, toothaches, dandruff, athlete’s foot and to reduce the itching of chicken pox.
Bach Rescue Remedy
Can be used for accidents, injuries, shocks and emotional upsets.
Aconite 30C for first signs of cold, fever and flu, effects of fright and shock
Arnica 30C treats aches, bruises and sprains. Can be given after any trauma
Cantharis 30C used for burns, scalds and urinary tract infections
Hypericum 30C relieves pain from wounds
Nux Vomica (Colubrina) 30C used for nausea, vomiting and headaches
Traumeel homeopathic ointment
For relief of pain, inflammation, and other symptoms of minor sports injuries, sprains and bruises.
Anise – Seeds can be used to ease cramps, flatulence, indigestion and coughs and to stimulate milk production in nursing mothers.
Cayenne pepper – Add ¼ tsp to 1 cup of oil and massage aches or apply powder into open cut to stop bleeding and prevent scarring.
Cinnamon – Use as a tea for indigestion or flatulence, relieves nausea and vomiting, stops diarrhea and in liniments eases sore muscles
Cloves – Put a few drops of clove oil on a toothache to relieve pain
Dill – Can be used to treat colic in babies and to stimulate the production of breast milk
Fennel – Tea relieves gas
Garlic – Is both antiviral and antibacterial and is useful in treating upper respiratory infections and earaches. Boosts the immune system
Ginger – Drink tea to relieve nausea and menstrual pain.
Peppermint – Useful in treating flatulence, stomach upset, headaches, fever, vomiting and nausea.
Thyme – Is antiseptic and can be used to wash wounds, calm convulsive coughs, relieve diarrhea, and treat respiratory infections. Oil can be used as a hair wash for the treatment of lice. Use as a gargle for a sore throat.#