4 Strategies If the Stomach Bug Threatens

Getting the stomach bug ranks pretty high on most people’s “least favorite things” list. After a terrible three-week-long round of stomach flu, I determined to be much more proactive about avoiding a full-blown family attack in the future.

Impossible, maybe. But there’s always hope, right? Now if we get exposed to the stomach bug, I take these four precautionary steps.

Everyone hates the stomach bug, but if one threatens, it's best to be prepared! Here are four smart things to do if you've been exposed.

Don’t worry. He’s not sick. Just bribed with chocolate to pretend that he is. 

Four smart things to do when the stomach bug threatens

Fight back with herbs

I would take just about anything if it kept me from getting the stomach bug. But thankfully, my very favorite stomach-bug-fighting-herbs are pretty tasty:

Elderberry syrup/tincture: this mildly sweet berry packs a powerful antiviral and antibacterial punch. You can take it regularly as an immune-builder. At the first sign of any illness, up your normal dose to fight off the bug. (Purchase elderberries here.)

Peppermint teaI practically sip peppermint tea not-stop when there’s a stomach bug going around. Not only is it delicious, it’s a great herb to boost the immune system and calm queasy stomachs. (Read more or purchase peppermint tea here.) 

Activated charcoal: Not to be confused with leftovers from grilling. This stuff is quite different. And it’s been used since ancient Egypt to fight poison, stomach bugs, and food poisoning. Your body doesn’t actually absorb it. Instead, the charcoal binds with toxins and flushes them out of the body. (Fine print: Activated charcoal is not for long term use though, because it also flushes out vitamins. So don’t take at the same time as vitamins! And too much can cause constipation.Not for children under 3.)

This last time the stomach bug made its rounds, I handed out prunes (see above) lightly dipped in activated charcoal. You could hardly taste or see the charcoal at all this way and it seemed to keep the bug at bay. (Purchase activated charcoal here.

(I wish I’d known about it when we had our miserable three-week stomach bug marathon two years ago.)

Review the stomach bug protocol

Also known as mommy’s “Don’t throw up on the couch” speech. I used to think telling kids where not to throw up was a bit heartless, but after spending two days scrubbing, and soaking, and polishing vomit from a leather couch, I changed my mind.

Now any time we’re exposed to the stomach bug, I review the stomach bug protocol with the kids: “If you need to throw up, try to make it to the toilet. If you can’t make it, a bowl or tile or hardwood is easier to clean up than carpet. Try NOT to throw up on the couch.”

Not that I can fault a sweet sick little one if they do throw up on the couch, but I’d much rather spend a sick day holding my little people than scrubbing up vomit. So far my speech seems to have helped avoid another terrible couch incident.

Adjust the menu

Getting the stomach bug is bad enough, without having just eaten spaghetti. If the stomach bug is threatening, I do a quick menu adjustment and try to choose simple, healthy, meals without red sauce or lots of spice. Chicken-broth-based soup makes a great choice.

Keep sickness essentials stocked

If the dreaded bug does gain a footing, having enough laundry soap, dishwashing detergent, disinfectant, crackers, paper products (including plates and cups) and extra blankets makes the attack much easier to weather. (Trust me, after those three miserable weeks, I know!)

Since none of these things are likely to spoil, they’re good items to keep well stocked anyway.

Be prepared for the stomach bug

Having a stomach bug tear through the house is horrid, but being prepared makes it easier to handle. Next time the stomach bug threatens, review your stomach bug protocol, fight back with herbs, adjust your menu, and make sure the essentials are covered. It makes weathering the storm much easier.

[Full disclosure: links to products in this post are my referral links.]

Peppermint: Herbal Highlight

Unlike bitter yarrow and spicy cayenne pepper, peppermint is an herb even children enjoy. Not only is peppermint delicious, it is also a powerful herb that has been loved and enjoyed for centuries.

Although I tried my hardest to get myself to enjoy a cup of yarrow tea each afternoon (since yarrow is such an amazing tonic) but it was just too bitter. Peppermint though, is an herb I don’t mind enjoying every day.

[Full disclosure: links to products in this post contain affiliate links.]

The Bulk Herb Store is my very favorite place to buy high-quality dried peppermint (or peppermint tea bags

The Benefits of Peppermint

Ironically, peppermint is both stimulating and soothing at the same time. How it this possible? The volatile oils in peppermint stimulate the circulation and soothe the nerves. This unique trait is called “the peppermint paradox”.

Peppermint is one of the most-loved herbs for treating nausea and gas. Its soothing properties also make it a mild pain-killer. And, if you start feeling an after-lunch slump, try brewing up a cup of peppermint tea. It makes a tasty pick-me-up

Because the volatile oils in peppermint contain most of its powers, make sure you prepare tea properly to avoid damaging the oils. To properly prepare peppermint tea, bring water to a boil. Remove it from the heat and cool just a tad before adding the peppermint. Then, cover tightly while the tea steeps so that the oils  do not escape. (If you use the leaves or petals of an herb –instead of the roots— you should almost always prepare your tea like this.)

Although I generally prefer to use herbal teas and tinctures over essential oils, since most of peppermint’s herbal powers lie in the oils, a good essential oil is much more potent than an herbal tea or tincture. Depending on your desired use, this increased potency can be a great or not-so-great thing. For example, peppermint tea tends to be more relaxing to the nerves, but peppermint essential oil is generally much more stimulating to the circulatory system. (Because essential oils are so powerful, make sure you carefully follow instructions for diluting.)

 I am not a doctor or a nurse. The only hospital I have ever worked at is a doll hospital. There, a band-aid can cure a heart attack. As always, please do you own research (these are some of my favorite resources) and talk to your health care provider if your condition is serious. 

Practical Uses for Peppermint

Peppermint for nausea

When I was pregnant, I drank peppermint tea religiously. It didn’t make the morning sickness go away, but did help calm my stomach. Peppermint is also helpful for car sickness (if you have essential oil with you!) and the stomach flu. When the kids are sick, I have them sip strong peppermint tea or soak in a warm peppermint bath.

Peppermint for an afternoon pick-me-up

Peppermint is like a “‘blast of green energy.’ It renews, refreshes, and energizes without depleting or using up energy reserves.” Medicinal Herbs. These energizing properties make peppermint a wonderful pick-me-up tea when your start to feel like you are slipping into a slump. I drink it almost every afternoon.

Peppermint for frazzled nerves (and headaches)

Thanks to the “peppermint paradox”, peppermint not only works as a pick-me-up, it helps calm frazzled nerves too. If you get headaches from indigestion or poor circulation to the head (often caused by tension), peppermint tea or diluted peppermint oil rubbed into the temps can help calm your headache.

Peppermint for relieving pain

The volatile oils in peppermint have mild anodyne properties, which is a fancy way of saying peppermint helps relieve pain. Use properly diluted peppermint essential oil for relieving the pain of burns, toothaches, bee stings, and headaches.

Peppermint for digestive problems

From fighting indigestion to relieving gas to calming colic and easing cramps, peppermint is the herb of choice.

Peppermint for increasing other herbs effectiveness

Like cayenne, peppermint is a “catalyst” herb. Peppermint stimulates the circulation and helps your body absorb other herbs more effectively. (Plus, its pleasant taste can help mask other less-pleasant herbs.)

Not only does peppermint taste good, it's a powerful herb for easing stomach problems, calming the nerves, as an energizing pick-me-up, and much more.

 

photo credit

Enjoy the benefits of peppermint

Peppermint is a tasty herb that packs a powerful punch. Its paradoxical properties help it stimulate the circulation and calm the nerves and make it the herb of choice for digestive problems, fatigue, nausea, and frazzled nerves.

Even if you’re new to gardening, peppermint is one of the easiest herbs to grow (just make sure you keep it contained, otherwise it can spread like wildfire.) If you don’t want to wait for your peppermint to grow, purchase high-quality tea or essential oils and beginning enjoying its powerful benefits today.

Herbal Helps for Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease

Herbal Helps for Hand, Foot & Mouth Disease

This very cute baby isn’t mine (photo credit). Thankfully, little Ned’s case never got this bad. 

When I learned we had been exposed to Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease, a slight shiver ran down my spine. It sounds simply dreadful, doesn’t it?

Thankfully, it’s rarely as scary as its name.

Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease is a contagious illness caused by several different strains of Enterovirus, but it’s hardly ever serious. Usually it starts with a sore throat, proceeds to a fever, and then little rashes or blisters appear on the hands, feet, and/or mouth.

Of the half dozen children I know with it, only one followed the normal progression. Edmund was perfectly happy till he came down with a fever on Sunday.

Meg played like a champ all day Tuesday, but an hour after tucking her into bed she complained “My hurts all over.” She didn’t have a fever, but had little rashes on her feet. I rubbed homemade herbal salve on her feet, gave her a bit of pain medicine, and she woke up perfectly happy (though she still had a painless rash.)

I didn’t even told Rose she has a slight rash on her face. It hasn’t seemed to bother her in the slightest and since we’re quarantining ourselves anyway, what’s the use of worrying her?

Hand, Foot & Mouth disease is a common, but very uncomfortable, childhood illness. Since it's caused by a virus, antibiotics are useless. But, these simple herbal aids helped soothe and calm my kids.

 I am not a doctor or a nurse. The only hospital I have ever worked at is a doll hospital. There, a band-aid can cure a heart attack. As always, please do you own research (these are some of my favorite resources) and talk to your health care provider if your condition is serious. 

Herbs for Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease

Since Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease is caused by a virus, antibiotics are useless. It usually clears up on its own within a week, but I wanted to do what I could to boost all of the children’s immune systems and fight the illness off as quickly as possible. (We have an Ancient Egypt party coming up at their weekly academy and simply have to be better in time! 😉 )

Here are a few herbs that are generally considered safe* for children that help fight viral infections and/or boost their immune system:

Instead of giving one big dose a day, herbal remedies are best split into multiple smaller doses throughout the day. I aim for every hour or two during the height of the illness, then tapered off for a couple of days once they’re recovering.

I also rubbed homemade herbal salve on their rashes before they lay down, which seemed to sooth them.

A lukewarm oatmeal and lavender bath also soothes itchy rashes (and the kids just think it’s fun!) To avoid a very slimy oatmeal mess, put the oats in a clean old sock and run the water through it.

Very rarely, serious complications occur, which cannot be treated at home. Usually though, Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease is a non-threatening childhood illness whose speedy end can be helped along with herbs.

Have you (or your kids) had Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease? Did you follow the “normal” progression? 

 [Full disclosure: links to products in this post are my referral links.]

Cayenne Pepper for Shock

If I were just a wee bit less clumsy, I wouldn’t have the chance to try out the lovely herbal remedies I read about (like onions if you bruise yourself while tumbling down the stairs.) What would be the fun of learning about herbs though if you don’t put them to the test, right?

This test was a bit scary: cayenne pepper for shock.

It was the day of Joshua’s little sister’s wedding rehearsal. He wasn’t able to get off work as early as he’d hoped so by the time he got home we were already running late. I hurried to load up the van while he changed. I quickly walked around the back to buckle in Meg. Normally, I can walk under the open trunk with no problem. Alas, the trunk wasn’t quite open all the way and I trotted right into it.

Immediately, I started to hyper-ventilate and felt like I was going into shock. Unbidden tears streamed down uncontrollably. I put my hand to my head and blood poured down my arm.

Blood gushed down my forehead as I started going into shock. Then cayenne saved the day.  Read more...

Cayenne pepper from the Bulk Herb Store

I am not a doctor or a nurse. The only hospital I have ever worked at is a doll hospital. There, a band-aid can cure a heart attack. As always, please do you own research (here are some of my favorite resources) and contact your health care provider immediately if your condition is serious!  

I made it to the table and melted into a chair, leaving a trail of blood from the garage to the kitchen table. I knew head cuts bleed really easily and the blood loss shouldn’t bother me. But everything seemed to spin out of focus and I couldn’t stop shaking, crying, and hyper-ventilating.

Joshua came running when he heard my feeble call for help.

“Cayenne! Can you get me some cayenne pepper in water?” I whispered weakly. “I think it will help.”

Despite the dazed feeling, a vivid story of cayenne helping shock had come to mind. [Herbs come alive in Lalitha’s Ten Essential Herbs, making it much easier to remember when to use what!]

Joshua fumbled hurriedly through the spice cabinet and finally found the buried cayenne pepper.

My bloody forehead dripped a trail and my  body started going into shock. Then my husband helped me put cayenne pepper to the test...

I’m not sure how much cayenne he put in the glass of water, but it was bright orange. Normally, I’m a huge wimp when it comes to hot stuff. With shaking hand I took a sip. The cayenne tasted sweet!

A few sips later, I had stopped shaking and started breathing more regularly. By the time Joshua had gently wiped the blood from my hair and cleaned up the trail of blood, I was feeling recovered enough to go to the rehearsal. As I read later, it’s common for people suffering from shock to experience the sweet taste when they take cayenne pepper. Tasting the spiciness again is a sign that the shock is fading.

We were really late, but we made it to the rehearsal. After we got back, I upgraded the cayenne pepper to an easily-accessible spot in the spice rack.

Why is cayenne so effective? Read more here…

 [Full disclosure: links to products in this post are my referral links.]

Cayenne Pepper: Herbal Highlight

Cayenne is one of the best herbs to keep on hand for the many mine "emergencies" moms face. Discover the wonders of this incredible herb!

As I learn about the wonders of the plants in God’s creation, I find myself standing in awe again and again. I love learning how herbs work and ways to use them. The problem is that with so many herbs out there, my brain gets over-crowded.

So, each month I’m focusing on just one herb and how to use it. Last month’s herb was yarrow, which makes an effective, though very bitter, tonic tea and is an excellent addition to herbal salves.

September’s herbal highlight is one of the most beloved herbs of all time: cayenne pepper.

Herbal Highlight: CayenneFull disclosure: links to some products in this post are my referral links. (photo credit

I am not a doctor or a nurse. The only hospital I have ever worked at is a doll hospital. There, a band-aid can cure a heart attack. As always, please do you own research (these are some of my favorite resources) and talk to your health care provider if your condition is serious. 

What’s so great about cayenne pepper?

If only granted one herb, many herbalists would pick cayenne. Ancient Egyptian tombs indicate that its healing powers have been valued for millennia.

What’s so special about cayenne? A lot.

Perhaps its most important trait is its ability to stimulate circulation in the body, from the organs down to the tiniest cell. Cayenne’s stimulating powers help it cleanse the blood, boost the immune system, strengthen the heart, and flush out impurities.

If you, like me, are a huge wimp when it comes to hot food, start small. You don’t need to find the hottest cayenne and take a huge pinch. Build up your tolerance slowly. Although it’s tempting to want to take it in a capsule, Lalitha cautions in 10 Essential Herbs, “An important process is initiated in the mouth, brain, and digestive tract when Cayenne interacts with the saliva and enzymes in the mouth…Many stomachs do not like to be surprised [by cayenne]. (1)”

If you happen to get too much cayenne, just take a sip of milk or spoonful of yogurt. It cools the mouth quickly.

Here are just a few uses for this incredible herb:

Shock

Numbed senses, uncontrollable shaking, dizziness, and a loss of touch with reality are all symptoms of shock. Cayenne helps calm them all by balancing circulation which helps halt the shock response. When I was pregnant with Edmund, I banged my head really hard and instantly started to go into shock. A dash of cayenne in water worked like a miracle (and allowed us to make my sis-in-law’s wedding rehearsal!) Read the whole cayenne story here. 

Carrier Herb

Cayenne, which is pretty amazing in its own right, is especially beloved because of its effectiveness as a carrier herb. Just a touch of cayenne added to another herb makes the other herb more effective because it speeds the absorption into the bloodstream.

Nerve Pain

Arthritis and many of the other “itises” can be helped by cayenne. “It appears to act by decreasing the concentration of substance P, the primary chemical used by nerve cells to transmit pain signals. (2)” Unlike other topical pain killers, which tend to lose their effectiveness over time, the capsaicin in cayenne has a cumulative effect. Regular use increases its effectiveness.

Stomach Problems

Although raw cayenne or cooked dried powder can cause stomach upset and even lead to ulcers, dried it helps heal the stomach and promote “digestion by stimulating the release of saliva and stomach enzymes(1,3)”! So, if you’re using it in food, add it at the very last second so that it doesn’t have time to cook.

Cold feet

It’s a traditional remedy for cold feet. Just sprinkle a teensy tiny bit in your socks and stomp around a bit! Your feet will warm up in a hurry!

For Minor Cuts

Twice now I’ve witnessed cayenne’s incredible ability to stop bleeding. My sis sliced her finger while helping me in the kitchen and it wouldn’t stop bleeding. I dumped a little cayenne directly onto the cut and could practically see the blood clot. It was amazing!

Discover the many uses of this incredible herb! It's effective for a number of common mini emergencies, from stomach problems to cut fingers.

Cayenne Pepper Herbal Highlight

There’s a good reason that cayenne pepper ranks near the top of herbalists list of favorite herbs. It is incredibly effective at helping a number of common mini “emergencies” moms face, from stomach problems to cut fingers. Make sure you keep this helpful herb handy in your herbal medicine closet!

What’s your favorite use for cayenne? 

(1) 10 Essential Herbs, pgs. 31-57

(2)  Herbal Drugstore, pg. 431

(3) Medicinal Herbs, pg. 61

DIY Herbal Salve

If you can make pancakes, you can make an herbal salve. (If you can’t make pancakes, you probably still can.)

Not only is it easy, making an herbal salve is fun and useful. In the one week since making my first antibacterial green salve, we’ve used it on a mild diaper rash, a not-at-all-mild forehead bump, and a badly skinned knee. Each time I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how soothing the salve seemed to be and how quickly the owie started to heal.

Once you have selected your herbs and infused your herbal oil, it’s time to make a salve.

Make your own herbal salve easily and frugally!

[Full disclosure: links to products in this post are my referral links.]

Antibacterial green salve with yarrowlavendercalendula, plantain, clover, and rosemary (Here are some other great herbal choices!) 

DIY Herbal Salve

Ingredients & supplies: 

  • Herbal oil
  • Beeswax (approximately 1/4 cup beeswax per 1 cup herbal oil)
  • Cheese cloth OR old, clean tea towel
  • Double broiler or two pots
  • Tins OR glass jars

Instructions: 

  1. Strain the herbal oil through a cheese cloth or tea towel (that you don’t mind getting stained) and measure.
  2. Pour into a double broiler OR a small pot that fits into a slightly larger one. Pour water into the bottom pot and heat over very low heat. You don’t want to burn the oil.
  3. Add beeswax, stirring occasionally until the beeswax is melted.
  4. Test your salve’s consistency by placing a teaspoon of it on a plate in the freezer. After a couple minutes, check to see if it’s your desired thickness. If it’s too thin, add more beeswax. If it’s too thick, add a little olive oil.
  5. Once the salve is the right consistency, pour it into tins or glass jars.
  6. Mark the jars with the contents and date (because, unless your memory is WAY better than mine, you will forget!) and enjoy!

Stored in a cool, dry place the salve lasts a long time. Once it starts to lose it’s color or smell off, discard.

Tip: Want to make an extra potent salve? Once you’ve strained the herbal oil, add fresh dried herbs and pour the strained oil over them. Store in a sunny spot for another two weeks. If condensation forms, wipe dry. Then, strain again and make your extra awesome salve!

Want to make your own herbal salve? Good news! It is easy and fun. Just follow these simple steps.

Make Your Own Herbal Salve

Not only is making your own herbal salve easy, it’s a frugal way to care for your family naturally. We’ve used our anti-bacterial green salve to help all sorts of minor bumps, cuts, and bruises.

So gather your supplies and start making your own salve!

DIY Solar-Infused Herbal Oil

Once you have selected your herbs, making an herbal oil is simple. Herbal oils extract the power of herbs into an easily-absorbed and potent source and are the first step in making salves and ointments.

There are several methods for infusing an oil: double-broiler, crockpot, and solar. Solar-infused is the simplest (and most ancient).

DIY Solar-infused herbal oil

Yarrow, lavendercalendula with fresh-wilted rosemary, plantain, & clover infusing in olive oil. 

How to Make a Solar-Infused Herbal Oil

You will need:

Directions:

  1. Select your herbs.
  2. If you pick fresh herbs, fresh-wilt them first by letting them sit in a warm place (out of direct sunlight) for a few hours until they have lost most of their water content. Too much moisture can ruin the oil.
  3. Fill a clean mason jar 1/3 to 1/2 full of herbs.
  4. Cover with oil, leaving about two inches of head space.
  5. Screw lid on tightly and let sit in a sunny windowsill for about two weeks.
  6. Strain out herbs with a cheesecloth.
  7. (Optional) If you want an extra potent herbal oil, repeat steps 1-6 using the herbal oil you just strained.
  8. Store your herbal oil, tightly covered, in a cool dark place or use it to make an herbal salve.

Properly prepared herbal oils made with olive oil should last for several months to a year in a cool dark place. If it starts to smell off, discard and make a new batch!

*Anti-bacterial in the sense that the herbal properties fight bad bacteria, but hopefully don’t contribute to the rise of super bugs like improperly used anti-bacterial soaps might.

I am not a doctor or a nurse. The only hospital I have ever worked at is a doll hospital. There, a band-aid (or plantain!) can cure a heart attack. Please use discretion and seek medical assistance for serious injuries! 

May be linked up at Mama MomentsGrowing HomeWorks for MeWalking RedeemedGraced SimplicityFabulously Frugal & Simple Lives

[Full discloser: links to products in this post are my referral links.]

Choosing Herbs for an Anti-Bacterial Green Salve

Scrapes, bruises, tumbles, and bug bites are all part of the mini traumas of growing up. Many remedies to these minor ailments grow unbidden in yards around the world.

Just a few weeks ago, Rose and Will ran breathlessly into the house and exclaimed, “Mama! Guess what! We found lots and lots of plantain outside! Do you want some?”

I’m so excited to finally harvest the healing powers of the herbs we trample underfoot regularly. This month’s DIY project is to make a Green Salve of anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, astringent herbs (and weeds) to replace our almost empty tube of Neosporin.

Making an herbal salve is simple. Deciding which herbs to put in it is more tricky. There are so, so many incredible herbs choose from. Below are just a handful of common choices to include in an anti-bacterial green salve.

Pick at least two or three of the heavy hitters and add in others if you wish.

Want to make your own anti-bacterial green salve, but are overwhelmed with all the options? Here's a simple guide.

[Full disclosure: links to products in this post are my referral links.]

I chose dried yarrow, lavender, and calendula with fresh clover, plantain leaf, and rosemary

What Herbs to Use in an Anti-Bacterial Green Salve

Heavy Hitting Herbal Healers

Calendula flowerspotent but powerful, calendula promotes cell repair. It is anti-inflammatory and antiseptic and aids in healing cuts, burns, bruises, rashes, skin infections and is gentle enough to use on diaper rashes.

Comfrey root or leaf: famous as a “cell proliferant”, comfrey works to clear away diseased cell and encourage rapid growth of healthy cells. Use for burns, bruises, cuts and stings. Some forms of comfrey contain PAs which should be avoided internally by pregnant women and children. If using internally, use Symphytum officinale–which has little to no PAs, and speak with your health care professional first.

Lavendereffective and beautifully fragrant, lavender’s anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-septic properties are legendary. Use it to fight skin infections, burns, bee stings, and scrapes.

Plantain leaf: last year Rose cut her finger while we were at the zoo. My sis-in-law Amber bent down, picked a piece of plantain that was growing at our feet, smashed it, and tied it to Rose’s finger with a piece of grass. It made a very memorable (and healing) band-aid. Plantain is excellent at drawing toxins from hurts and helps heal bites, stings, and slivers.

Yarrow flowersthis lovely wildflower is a potent styptic [fancy for, “it stops bleeding”] that is anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and astringent. Used for healing wounds, bruises, and sprains. Not to be taken internally when pregnant because of its uterine-stimulating properties. Occasionally causes allergic rash.

Additional Herbs

Clover flowers: Nutrient-dense clover covers our backyard and the bees, bunnies, and birds all enjoy it. It’s good for the skin too and aids in healing eczema and psoriasis.

Echinacea flowers/leaves/stems: this beautiful and powerful flower is one of the best-loved herbs. The anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties of echinacea also make it a good choice for external ailments.

Rosemarya mild analgesic, rosemary is helpful in fighting inflammation. Plus, it smells amazing.

(For more information about these herb–plus tons of other wonderful herbal remedies- check out two of my favorite herbs books: Medicinal Herbs and 10 Essential Herbs )

Most of these herbs you can grow or harvest yourself (not many people plant plantain!) If you don’t have them in your yard or garden, the Bulk Herb Store and Mountain Rose Herbs are very favorite sources for dried herbs.

Want to make an anti-bacterial green salve, but feel overwhelmed by how MANY herbs their are to choose from? Don't worry. Here's a simple guide to awesome herbs.

Pick Your Favorite Herbs

Choosing which herbs to use in your herbal salve is the most interesting part. It’s the hardest part too!

Prioritize herbs that help issues you regularly face. If you burn yourself regularly, lavender is a good choice. If your kids are constantly bruising themselves, try calendula and/or yarrow.

For my salve, I chose four of the “heavy hitters” plus two “additional herbs” for a well-rounded selection.

Once you’ve picked your herbs of choice, the hard part is over. Now it’s time to make a herbal oil (here’s how!).

 (photo credit 1/photo credit 2)

Yarrow: Herbal Highlight

I am so excited to start a new feature here at Feminine Adventures, highlighting a herb each month.

Yarrow: herbal highlight
Lovely pink or white yarrow blossoms bloom as weeds in most temperate climates, and are incredibly useful “free herbs” (photo credit)

This month’s herb is widespread, beautiful, and one that I had never heard of until reading about it in one of my favorite herb books: 10 Essential Herbs.

Since then, I’ve seen yarrow referenced dozens of times. What makes this lovely wayside “weed” so special to herbalists?

Yarrow is a mildly bitter herb that cleanses the blood, builds the immune system, and stimulates OR relaxes depending on what the body needs.

It is also a potent styptic [fancy for, “it stops bleeding”] that is anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and astringent, making it an excellent herb to use in green salves for healing bumps and bruises.

Yarrow Flower - Cut, Organic

Grow or wild harvest yarrow, or purchase high-quality dried yarrow from the Bulk Herb Store

I am not a doctor or a nurse. The only hospital I have ever worked at is a doll hospital. There, a band-aid can cure a heart attack. As always, please do you own research and talk to your health care provider if your condition is serious. 

Our summer has been full of late nights and exhausted mornings. I get headaches if I drink coffee very often (and don’t want to get addicted to it anyway), but I needed to do something about the morning sluggishness.

After reading in 10 Essential Herbs that yarrow makes an excellent pick-me-up tonic I decided to give it a try.

Each night, before I go to bed, I drink a small glass of yarrow tea [Since I’m lazy, I brew a big batch and keep the leftovers in the fridge to drink over ice.] Despite getting even less sleep than usual lately, I wake up with more energy than usual.

When the books say “mildly bitter” I’m not sure what they mean. This stuff is bitter. But waking up without feeling like a train had run over me is totally worth it.

Safety factors: Yarrow is normally considered safe though there are occasional cases of allergies to it. Since it stimulates the uterine muscles, it isn’t recommended during early pregnancy (though it’s often used by midwives during labor).

  May be linked up at Mama MomentsGrowing HomeHealthy 2Day ,Works for MeWalking RedeemedGraced SimplicityFabulously Frugal & Simple Lives

[Full disclosure: links to products in this post are my referral links.]

Herbal Gargle for a Sore Throat

Some sore throats aren’t that big a deal. But then there’s the kind that leaves you wincing every time you have to swallow or talk or breathe.

It was that kind of sore throat that made me gather up the courage to try Rosemary Gladstar’s “Good Gargle for a Bad Throat” from her excellent book Medicinal Herbs. Rosemary jokes that people get addicted to this nasty concoction because it works so well.

It sure worked for me.

I’m definitely not dying to have another sore throat so I can put it to work again, but am glad to have an herbal remedy at my finger tips that soothes the pain and helps the throat heal amazingly quickly, even if it is quite nasty!

Sage Leaf Rubbed, Organic

Sage fights colds and relaxes the mucous membranes (from the Bulk Herb Store)

I am not a doctor or a nurse. The only hospital I have ever worked at is a doll hospital. There, a band-aid can cure a heart attack. As always, please do you own research and talk to your health care provider if your condition is serious. 

Herbal Gargle for a Sore Throat

adapted from Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 T. dried sage
  • 1 tsp goldenseal root
  • 1 T. sea salt
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup unpasteurized apple cider vinegar

Instructions

  1. Boil water. Steep the sage and goldenseal [If the goldenseal is in its root form. If it’s powdered wait.] for 30-45 minutes, keeping covered. Strain.
  2. Add remaining ingredients.
  3. Gargle 1-2 teaspoons for as long as you can stand every 30 to 60 minutes until the sore throat abates.

If your sore throat leaves you wincing in pain when you swallow, try this powerful herbal gargle for sore throats. It worked wonders for me!

photo credit

Fight sore throats

If each gulp leaves you wincing, fight back with this powerful herbal gargle for a sore throat.

[Full disclosure: links to some products in this post are my referral links.]