With literally thousands of herbs with medicinal properties, it would be very difficult for me to choose which to keep on hand at home. I have selected these herbs for their safety and well-known medicinal properties. By stocking these herbs in the home pharmacy, you’ll always have a stash for a variety of health needs. Most of these herbs, such as dandelion, echinacea, garlic, peppermint and St. John’s wort, are easy to grow and can be used fresh from the herb garden. However, many herbs’ medicinal properties are enhanced when dried, so consider stocking the home apothecary with dried herbs as well
American Ginseng [ Panax quinquefolius ]: Ginseng has long been known as an energy booster due to its status as an “adaptogen.” Adaptogens are a specific class of herbs that may help our bodies adapt to stress as we age. Adaptogens may even effect the regulation of certain hormones in our bodies. Make dried or fresh ginseng into a tea; ginseng is also quite effective when made into a tincture.
Black Cohosh [ Actaea racemosa ]: Often called the go-to herb for women experiencing hormonal imbalances during perimenopause [ the decade before menopause ]. It’s especially effective for hot flashes. Black cohosh is most effective when used in a tincture. If you purchase Black Cohosh in capsule form, read the label carefully and follow directions on the package.
Calendula [ Calendula officinalis ] Calendula is best known for healing the skin and as remedy for burns and bruises. Use the beautiful calendula petals for making a strong tea, or as compress for sunburn and rashes. Infused calendula oil will heal dry skin, rashes and irritations. You can also make a calendula tincture and use it to make teas, bath or beauty/cosmetic solutions.
Dandelion [ Taraxacum officinale ]: Almost the entire dandelion plant is useful. The leaves are among the best herbs used for kidney and urinary tract cleansers. It’s root when brewed as a tea, promotes liver health. If you are sensitive to ragweed, dandelion should be used with caution. Eat the young, green leaves in spring for a delicious treat. Harvest the roots, wash, and hang to dry in a warm, airy room for about three weeks. The dried roots can be brewed into a healthy tea. Use 1/2 dandelion roots and 1/2 dried mint leaves in hot tea for a boost of energy first thing in the morning. Roots and leaves of the dandelion can be made into salves and tinctures.
Echinacea [ Echinacea sp., various ]: Supports the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is a network of nodes, fluid, and glands that wash away toxins and byproducts of inflammation. Echinacea may reduce swelling and congestion, and help the lymph move fluid along in the body. Echinacea is excellent in an immune and lymphatic health-building tincture. The dried root can also be used in teas. Echinacea can be purchased in capsule form as well. Be sure to follow instructions on the package.
Garlic [ Allium sativum ]: Garlic has to be one the world’s most versatile herbs. It fends off viruses, high blood pressure, slows hardening of the arteries and may lessen cholesterol buildup in the heart. Garlic is also antibacterial and antifungal. Eat the raw cloves in salads, or lightly cooked with vegetables and pasta sauces. You can also make garlic tincture or use the crushed garlic cloves on minor burns and blisters. Garlic capsules can purchased in health food stores, if the taste and smell of fresh garlic is too strong.
German Chamomile [ Matricaria chamomilla ]: Among the best medicinal herbs used in Europe and now the United States, German chamomile is used to treat inflammation and irritation of the skin, mouth, gums, and respiratory tract; and to relieve inflammation of the intestinal tract: also used as a sleep aid. Use with caution if you’re sensitive to ragweed. Add German Chamomile to salves, and to bath water. Makes an excellent tea and tincture.
Milk Thistle [ Silybum marianum ]: A very effective herb for a natural detoxification of the body. A wonderful tonic for the liver. Milk thistle is used to treat jaundice, cirrhosis, hepatitis, and liver poisoning due to heavy metal build-up. If you’re sensitive to ragweed, use with caution. Milk thistle makes a wonderful tea, or you can use it in a tincture.
Saw Palmetto [ Serenoa repens ]: Used to alleviate mild prostrate problems. Has been reputed to enhance the libido in men over 50 [ I do not have any personal data on this claim ]. However, because it’s known as “best friend to older men,” I have included it in this article. Saw palmetto is most effective when used in a tincture. The active ingredients in saw palmetto are not water- soluble, so making teas with it would not be effective. Check with a reputable heath food store before purchasing saw palmetto in capsule form.
St. John’s Wort [ Hypericum perforatum ]: Studies show that this plant may alleviate mild to moderation depression, making it a great herb to have around for use with the winter blues. St. John’s Wort should be used with caution as it creates photosensitivity in certain people. Avoid exposure to bright sun light when using this herb. St. John’s Wort oil is used for treating bruises, swelling, external hemorrhoids, and mild spider veins.
Blessed Be, sweet ones
~ Meadow Walker