Herbal Interests // Essential Herbs for Your Medicine Cabinet
It has been too long since I have discussed the medicinal properties of herbs with y'all! Too. Long!! When I first started getting down and dirty with this blog (meaning actually writing content for it) I was dealing with a bad break up and I had just planted my first tiny herb garden. It was motivating me to learn something, to find passion in a new hobby. Plus, I wanted to be just like Claire Fraser in Outlander... well, look at me now! Definitely not sawing off limbs and pulling teeth, but I have made several herbal healing + beauty recipes along with some pretty tasty teas, if I do say so myself. My dad was just complaining the other day about digestive problems, and I leapt off the couch to my "medicine cabinet" and whipped out a tea blend. It's become a thing. Even my grandma has come to me looking for advice on home remedies for her ear aches.
I thought today might be a good one to show you what exactly I keep in my little herbal medicine cabinet. I recently picked up this antique spice rack from one of my favorite places, The Shop, right here in Kalona. As I was perusing the store, searching for some of those mason jars with the wire closing hook thing... those have a name right? Anyway, this little rack just popped out at me and said, "Buy me! Buy me!" and I said, "Okay!!!!!" It's those little conversations in my head that keep me somewhat sane. You feel me? Mom-ing ain't easy, so said somebody. Here's my list of Twelve Essential Herbs for your Medicine Cabinet + A Few Others Because my Spice Rack Only Has Twelve Bottles:
- Lavender: With its calming and soothing benefits, this little herb is a must have in your herbal medicine cabinet. It is used extremely often, especially its essential oil, though the dried flowers can come in handy for things like tea and various beauty remedies. Lavender is anti-fungal and can help boost your mood and spirit when applied topically. It also helps to soften dry skin. Lavender is also great for helping to calm a bloated stomach; sprinkle it over your yogurt or cereal or brew up a warm cup of tea.
- Chamomile: This is also a very common healing herb, actually known by many as the healing herb. Chamomile has been used for centuries to soothe insomnia, cramps, arthritis, colic, digestive disorders, gas, gout, fever, headaches, malaria, stress, sciatica, teething, ulcers, vertigo, motion sickness, depression, menopause, diarrhea, and gangrene. If that doesn't convince you, it can also be used as a facial rinse to reduce puffiness, redness, and aging!
- Jasmine: For thousands of years, jasmine has been used for many beneficial uses. Mainly in beauty, this changing flower has a widely noted history of restoring skin problems like sunburns and rashes, even changing the skin's moisture and elasticity, reducing wrinkles, and giving the skin a healthier look and feel. It is often used in aromatherapy as an essential oil for an anti-depressant, aphrodisiac, and to get better sleep. It can be used to cure headaches, irritability, sexual problems, heat exhaustion and sunstroke, anxiety, depression, and uterine problems.
- Rose Hips: A rose hip is the fruit of the rose. When the petals of a rose have fallen off, the hip can be picked and used for medicinal purposes. They are an incredible source of Vitamin C; they have fifty percent more Vitamin C than oranges! They can be eaten raw when put in the blender or soaked in water overnight and boiled. They are excellent at boosting the immune system and regenerating new skin cells. Turn them into an astringent and apply to rehydrate the skin!
- Ginger: Whether is dried or fresh, ginger is an excellent root to keep on hand. Personally, I prefer dried bits of ginger, as I find fresh much to strong in herbal teas. Ginger and I just don't get along too well, though I do love a good cup of chai tea. Ginger is most often used for motion sickness and bouts of nausea, including morning sickness. It is also effective at reducing muscle pain, osteoarthritis, blood sugar levels, improving heart disease, chronic indigestion, menstrual pain, and lower cholesterol levels.
- Marshmallow Root: Marshmallow root (not the fluffy mouth clouds) is an herb originating in Africa. It was originally cultivated and used by the Egyptians. Used most often to ease sore throats and dry coughs, this plant is filled with mucilaginous and antibacterial properties. It can also be used to treat digestive disorders like heartburn, indigestion, ulcerative colitis, and stomach ulcers. Marshmallow has also been used to treat inflammatory skin conditions like eczema and contact dermatitis by being incorporated in skin creams.
- Catnip Leaf: The leaves and flowering tops of catnip can be used for treating disorders of the digestive system and is extremely useful in reducing fevers as it stimulates sweating. The juice of catnip can be used to promote menstruation. When brewed into a tea, this herb is useful in relieving colic in babies, as well as restlessness and nervousness. For adults, if made into a tea, catnip helps relieve fevers from colds and flus, prevents nausea and diarrhea. It can be applied topically in a poultice or cream for skin irritations. Try putting it in a bath!
- Red Clover Blossoms: These blossoms are a wild plant often grazed on by livestock. They can be used to treat cancer, whooping cough, respiratory problems, and skin inflammation. Many practitioners believe that red clover is a diuretic and expectorant, improves circulation, and helps cleanse the liver. It contains several nutrients such as calcium, chromium, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, thiamine, and vitamin C.
- Lemon Balm: This herb is traditionally used for bronchial inflammation, flatulence, earache, high blood pressure, fever, toothache, influenza, mood disorders, palpitations, and vomiting. It can also be used to soothe menstrual cramps and relieve PMS.
- Mint (Spearmint, Peppermint, etc): I have several types of mint in my cabinet. They each have different properties, but most are used as a natural breath freshener. Mint is the first toothpaste used centuries ago by chewing on a fresh leaf. It has lots of oral health properties and can be of use for other ailments such as colic, congestion, soothing coughs, dandruff, flatulence, hiccups, insomnia, indigestion, nausea, and sunburn.
- Comfrey: Historically, comfrey was applied topically to help heal broken bones. Though this didn't help much, now when taken internally, it does have helpful properties towards the healing of bruises and bones along with muscle and connective tissue injuries. It contains active ingredients that aid in forming new skin cells and to encourage skin health.
- Calendula: Also known as Marigold, calendula is a great herb for treating conjunctivitis, eczema, gastritis, sunburns, warts, and minor injuries such as sprains and wounds. Calendula contains a high content of anti-oxidants which protect body cells from damage. This herb is most commonly used for healing wounds.
- Nettle: This is probably one of my favorite and most used medicinal herbs, as I tend to have terrible seasonal allergies. Nettle, or Stinging Nettle, is one of the most commonly used herbs for aiding in allergy problems. Unlike prescription drugs for allergies, nettle has no side effects such as drowsiness, dry sinuses, insomnia, and high blood pressure. Along with treatment for allergies, it can also be used as treatment for prostate enlargement.
- Fennel: Often used for colic, wind, irritable bowels, kidneys, spleen, liver, lungs, suppressing appetite, breast enlargement, promoting menstruation, improving the digestive system, milk flow, and increasing uterine flow. This herb is rich in phytoestrogens. It can also be used to cure angina, ashtma, anxiety, depression, heartburn, water retention, high blood pressure, boost libido, coughs, and can boost sexual desire.
I try to look for herbal remedies as often as possible, especially for minor injuries such as digestive problems or pain relievers. Now that I've read more into the medicinal properties of plants, it makes me question a lot of what I used to and currently put into my body! The fact that nettle has no side effects in comparison to prescription drugs is just mind blowing - and it really does work! If you are looking to start your own herbal medicine cabinet, I hope this list helped! If you are having trouble locating a wide variety of dried herbs in your area, try Mountain Rose Herbs. They have plenty of choices in bulk! Also make sure to check out Herbwisdom.com for more information of medicinal herbs. Enjoy!