Recommended Resources for Learning Herbal Remedies

 One of my readers (Hi, Emily!) asked if I could share sources I recommend for learning more about natural medicine. This is a broad topic and I am by no means any sort of expert. BUT my mother treated her children with herbs and I helped her gather and make tinctures and we treated ourselves at home, rarely visiting the doctor at all as I grew up (I’ve only been twice in my life, in fact). We enjoyed good health and the satisfaction of caring for ourselves naturally. So it is with that background that I recommend these resources…

Making Herbs Simple -This video was great – covering a variety of ways to preserve and utilize the medicinal qualities of herbs. I’d highly recommend it for those who like to learn things hands-on rather than from books. It’s all very clearly demonstrated.

Also, when I looked up the link on Amazon I found they have an ‘instant play’ version for $1.99. Is this like instant netflix? If so – that’s cool! $1.99 to watch a great introduction to herbs and tinctures – everything you need to know to make your first batch of echinacea tincture.

One of the books my mom always referenced a lot was “Prescription for Nutritional Healing”. Now there is a whole series of these books, and the one I would like to add to my bookshelf would be “Prescription for Herbal Health”. I haven’t seen the Herbal Health book myself, but I have an old copy of “Prescription for Nutritional Healing” and have always liked the format and being able to look up any disease and see the description of symptoms and recommended treatments.

Lindsay also recommends “Prescription for Nutritional Healing” and her other favorite book over at Passionate Homemaking.


Another hand-me-down from my mom (she figured I could use them more in my season of mothering than she in hers with only teens left in the house!) is “An Encyclopedia of Natural Healing for Children and Infants”. This book has a list of common childhood illnesses as well as a list of herbs used commonly in treating children, so you can search the book for information from both angles.

The fact is, however, that I have not had a whole lot of experience treating my own children for typical childhood illnesses because, frankly, they are rarely sick. I think that is owing largely to this book – “Nourishing Traditions”. All three of my kids have been on a real food, limited processed foods diet their entire lives, and the results seem to be that their bodies fight off disease the way God designed. I am very grateful for this – even if it means I don’t have much practical experience in natural healing!

Prevention seems to be the best cure, after all.

This summer I do plan to make some of my own tinctures and herbal tea blends and even venture into the realm of creams and salves. Mountain Rose Herbs will be my source for the oils and beeswax I know I’ll need for these creations! They have a wide variety of herbs and stuff for making your own remedies. Check out their ad in my sidebar!

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Real Food Wednesdays at KellyTheKitchenKop

Do you treat yourself naturally before you go to the doctor? What are your favorite resources for caring for you and your kids? Please share books and websites – I’m looking to study this more myself!

Bringing out the Big Guns

Yesterday I mentioned the biggest guns in the home-remedies arsenal  – Garlic and Cayenne Pepper.

Today’s post is not to educate you about the benifits of these two powerful bombs, nor to convince you to invite them to your next sniffle party. There’s plenty of other places you can read and get facts and opinions on that. No, I’m just here today to tell you how to actually take them without blowing yourself up.

Seriously. Cayenne pepper is hot, people. And raw garlic can knock someone over from 8 feet away. That’s why their great for when you’ve got a cold because – no, wait. That’s not the purpose of this post. It’s all about How To today.

Getting Out the Big Guns

The Land Mine

For this you need a thick, tasty, gulp-able substance like applesauce or yogurt. A nice, thick-yet-smooth applesauce is great here. Spread a bit of sauce on a small spoon, leaving a small dent in the middle similar to the crater you make in your mashed potatoes for your gravy. Next sprinkle a 1/8 tsp. or less of cayenne pepper carefully in the dent. Then add a small pile of minced garlic. (Not crushed – don’t use your garlic press – the results are way too juicy. Just chop it small with a knife). Now, carefully cover your land mine with another bit of applesauce, dabbing it about to cover all the garlic and pepper. Now just swallow it down. DO NOT CHEW. The great thing about this technique is that, if in fact a little pepper sneaks out to burn you as you swallow it down, the yogurt or applesauce both have a great soothing effect on the burn. Just take another spoonful to help wash it down.

This technique is my preferred method as I have no heat tolerance whatsoever. (BBQ sauce makes me sweat, people) If you’re careful, you won’t feel or taste a thing. You can take cayenne in capsule form, but it tends to explode when it hits your stomache and this can be really uncomfortable.

This works for kids as long as they understand the instructions to swallow it whole. I tried it with Jesse and Claire yesterday and left out the cayenne. Claire chewed the garlic, poor girl, but got it down. Jesse tried to swallow, gagged, and got about half of the garlic down. Hooray! He really appreciated the bowlful of garlic-free applesauce I gave him after for a treat. 

Point Blank

Yesterday I also mentioned my mother’s ‘hoopty-poops’ – a concoction in liquid form that you could really benefit from if you could get it down. I make a similar tea that’s great when you have a sore throat and want to treat it directly. The nice thing is you can usually make this with what you have in your spice cupboard, but it’s a really great tonic for sore throats, coughs, and colds in general.

Start some water boiling and throw some garlic, ginger (fresh or dried), honey, lemon juice, and whatever else floats your boat, in a mug or quart jar. Add a pinch of cayenne – only as much as you can handle. For me, this is a few grains! But the more the better. Pour your boiling water over the top and let it steep until it’s cooled off enough to swallow. Sip, gulp – whatever you have to do to get it down. This is gonna benifit you all the way down, but I will tell you it tastes rough and does not feel pretty.

I would use this technique this week, except I know that cayenne and garlic would bother my nursing baby. This is what I call desperate measures, a direct shot to an infected throat.

Silent but Deadly

This is another powerful but potentially disagreeable way to take garlic. Again, great for directly targeting that sore throat or swollen tonsils. I tried this today, hoping it wouldn’t upset Seth’s tummy.

Peel a clove of garlic. Pop in mouth. Suck. Simple. Stinky. Effective. You can feel the powerful, antibacterial juices hitting your throat and burning away the enemy. Yes, you will have terrible breath. Yes, you all need to be very glad we are having this conversation via computer and not face to face, for I have been sucking on a clove for two hours. But you may really be thankful for the results. I’ll let you know how it goes for me.

Have you ever tried home remedies? What to you do when you get a cold?

Of Elderberry, Humility, and Volcanoes

We’re a little under the weather here, folks.

I feel like a volcano boiling away but unable to erupt. I lost my voice – woke up this morning and it was gone. I wasn’t surprised – I’d had a cold all week and, though I hadn’t felt that bad, it had lodged in my throat and stuck there.

So, here I am. Three kids and no voice with which to call, correct, or tell them I love them. That last one’s really killing me. I’m a real verbal person, and words of affirmation are my love language. Not being able to tell my babies that I love them at least 32 times a day has me feeling quite backed up.

Oh, and did I mention that Jeremy has been gone since 6am? Ski season started and he worked Sat. and Sun. this week at the adaptive ski program he teaches with. So, I’m going on 12 hours of single-parenthood as I type, and all of it spent under my breath. HELP! oops, I mean, help.

I find myself wishing I had taught them more sign language. And that they were better at coming the first time I call. Forget calling, I should have trained them to come at a whistle, like little dogs. Yes, that would have been handy now.

We’ve been sick more often this winter than ever before. It’s been humbling for me, ’cause I have realized that I’m rather prideful about our good health. I tend to get on a soapbox about eating nutritiously, and use my family as an example. God has showed me this is an area of my heart that needs more of Him and less of me in it.  (My apologies to anyone I’ve been obnoxious to on this subject!)

It also has me thinking about a lot of things I ‘should have done’ and making resolutions for the new year. My mom is a master at herbal remedies and has an amazing herb cupboard. I grew up with her making salves and tinctures and poultices and teas and a particularly potent potion we called “hoopty-poops” that could knock the snot out of you, if not raise the dead. We rarely went to the doctor (maybe 3 times in 10 years?) and treated cuts, bruises, colds, and even Dad’s broken foot with herbs we grew and gathered ourselves when we lived on the homestead.

I observed, gleaned some, but have failed to carry on the tradition in my own home! Part of the reason for this is that we are rarely sick – there just wasn’t a lot of motivation for me to build up my herbal medicine cabinet when we didn’t seem to need it. But now I have a little family of my own, and when one of us gets sick, we usually share it. Soon, ’cause I’m up during the night with one or the other, I get run down and eventually succumb as well. And it’s harder to kick something ’cause I don’t have the luxury of lying around on the couch till I’m better, and I can’t use the two biggest guns in the home remedy arsenal – garlic and cayenne pepper – while I’m nursing ’cause they make my baby very unhappy and spitty. I realized this month that I need to get more proactive when we get sick.

  • I have resolved to educate myself further.
  • I have resolved to stop everything and take time to actively treat any sickness that comes in the house, rather than just letting it run its course.
  • I have resolved to take my kids herb gathering this summer to find mullein, elderberry, and yarrow.
  • I’m gonna make some of my own tinctures with echinacea, goldenseal, and thyme.
  • I’m gonna find a source for beeswax so I can make salves, and cultivate some good medicinal herbs to put in them, like calendula, comfrey, echinacea,  and chamomile. 
  • I’m not going to let the things my mother taught me be forgotten. 
  • I’m going to take an offensive stance with the health of my family.

For now I’m doing what I can with what I have. Our diet this week has been homemade yogurt, soups made from homemade broth, and absolutely no sugar. In the morning we have a kefir smoothy with raw eggs, steamed swish chard, coconut oil, elderberry, frozen fruit, and anything else I feel like throwing in. A little maple syrup and the kids love it. We have vaporizers in every bedroom. Giving the kids plenty of naps and rest, and making the couch a priority for myself in between housekeeping and cooking. I found locally made elderberry syrup and elcampane tincutre (elderberry: immune system support, elcampane: loosens cough) and the kids and I are taking that 3 times a day in sour cherry juice I canned two summers ago. I can see the benefit of all this, because though we technically have colds, the symptoms are minimal. No fever, no runny noses, no one is miserable, we’re sleeping well at night.

Oh, and I’m praying. Not a bad idea for anybody, but especially fervent on my part ’cause I’ve got a wedding to coordinate this weekend and I need to be able to talk!

Update Monday morning: I can talk again! Just a little hoarse. Off to take some tinctures and make another cup of tea…prayers still appreciated.