Assemble an Herbal Remedy Closet: March’s Additions

Thankfully, I’ve had to “play nurse” much less often this month than last. Maybe, just maybe, we’re nearing the end of cold season…

And allergy season. Oh my! For a couple week, the whole outdoors were covered in a thick dusting of green from all the pollen. During that time, we barely took three breaths outside before the kids started coughing again. A few good rains cleared up the dust (outside at least) and all cold symptoms have vanished.

My challenge in 2012 is to build and maintain a “medicine chest” of herbs that will help fight the illnesses my family commonly faces on a budget of $20 a month. It’s the last Tuesday of March and time for an update.

January: $16.73
February: $10.22
Total to date: $26.95

March Purchases

Bentonite Clay- $12.70

The Bulk Herb Store is running a sale on Bentonite Clay through the end of the month (enter code MARBCP to get 1/2 pound for $3.15!) My mom and I placed a huge order together to save on shipping.

Why on earth am I ordering clay?!

About a year ago, our area was hit with a terrible tornado. Houses around us were leveled. At one point, you could hardly see across the street because of all the dust and dirt thrown into the air from the destruction (and subsequent construction.)

Since then, colds and coughs seem to have lingered much longer. My guess is there is probably lots of icky stuff still floating around in the air. It’s time for a cleanse.

That’s were bentonite clay comes in. Bentonite clay’s “greatest power lies in its ability to absorb toxins, impurities, heavy metals and other internal contaminants…” (Continue reading here)

You can apply it topically, make it into a bath (just don’t let the clay go down the drain) and even take this brand internally.

(Other sales at The Bulk Herb Store through Saturday include 1/2 pound Fennel Seed for $4.97 with code MARWFS, 1/2 pound Turmeric for $4.97 with code MARTRP, Horsetail Shavegrass for $5.95 with code MARHSH, Beautiful Hair Treatments for $10.47 with code MARBHT and Chamomile flowers for $8.33 with code MARWCF)

photo credit

Elderberries- $1.98

The Bulk Herb Store was out of elderberries, so I picked some up from the local health food store. Elderberries are amazing, tasty, cold fighters. They help ease inflammation and sooth pain while inhibiting the flu virus from penetrating the cell.

Jill’s Home Remedies has a great video tutorial for making your own elderberry cough syrup that you can store in the fridge for up to six months!

Herb seeds- $4.25

I’ve never had an herb garden before, but am so excited about attempting one this year. The Herbal Drugstore lists five easy to grow herbs (Calendula/marigold, Chamomille, Peppermint, Lemon Balm & Sage) that I plan to grow as well as basil and echinacea.

If you’re looking for a good source for non-gentically modified heirloom seeds I highly recommend Baker Creek Seeds. Their prices are amazing and they have wonderful customer service. I purchased Lemon Balm and Basil from them.

Some herbs I’m waiting to buy as plants and the rest were from the clearance rack at our local seed store. I’m not 100% sure the clearanced seeds will grow, but for 20 cents a packet decided to give them a try. 🙂

What about you? Are you growing any herbs this year? Did you add anything to your herbal remedy closet? 

Linked up at Healthy 2Day WednesdaysFrugal Days, Sustainable Ways & Natural Living Link Up 

(Full disclosure: links to some products in this post are my referral links.)

Herbal Drugstore & Your Choice of Herb Giveaway

No mom should be without an herbal resource book! Though I’m so grateful for modern medicine when it’s needed, herbal remedies are my family’s first line of defense. I have two favorite resources:  Herbal Drugstore and Mommy Diagnostics (read my full review here).

Today I’m giving away a copy of Herbal Drugstore and an herbal remedy of your choice!

Herbal Drugstore is written by a team of doctors and naturopaths. It covers ailments ranging from the common cold to carpel tunnel.

Herbal Drugstore is laid out in an easy-to-navigate, logical format for easy reference. For each ailment, it lists the effective herbal remedies, in order of importance. I’ve turned to it dozens of times to read the best herb to give my toddler for a cold or my husband for his headaches.

Of course, a book on herbs isn’t very helpful without the herbs themselves! In addition to the book, the winner will get an  herb of their choice (costing up to $20) from Vitacost. (Take a peak at what I’m adding to my herbal remedy collection!)

Vitacost offers herbal remedies, supplements, organic food and natural skincare products at great prices. If you’ve never ordered from them before, sign up to receive $10 off your first order! (Then tell your friends–they’ll get $10 off and so will you!)

 Enter below for your chance to win!

Giveaway open to US & Canada residents .Giveaway closes at midnight EST on Monday. Winners will be announced Tuesday morning.

Don’t forget to join the rest of the No More Student Loan Giveaways! (Thanks so much to each one of you that have shared about the giveaways! I really appreciate it!)

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Honey, Eucalyptus Oil & Steam: Home Cough Remedies

Sadly, no winter with little ones seems quite complete without at least one cough.

Coughs are exhausting, disrupt sleep and account for about 3% of all out-patient doctor visits.  “Consumers spend billions of dollars each year on OTC cough and cold medications despite little evidence that these drugs provide significant relief,” says Megan W. Manlove .

Recent studies show that common over-the-counter medicines worked little better than a placebo—and carried potential side effects.

Antibiotics are even worse. They kill bacteria (good and bad) but don’t help fight a cold. Using them unnecessarily has led to the rapid rise of antibiotic resistance.

Enter grandma’s old remedies:

photo by Zsuzsanna Kilian

Honey Tea

Two teaspoons of honey mixed in a mug of heated water is a time-honored cough remedy. (It also helps soothe sore throats!)

The first time I tried honey for a cough, my daughter was about two. She coughed and coughed. Nothing I did seemed to help. She couldn’t sleep and, of course, neither could I. Then I decided to try honey tea that my sister had recommended.

It worked wonders!

She stopped coughing almost immediately and slept soundly the rest of the night.

Honey coats the lining of the throat as well as provides antimicrobial and antioxidant benefits.

Medical research backs up what our great-grandmas knew. Researchers at Penn State College of Medicine conducted studies that showed honey tea performing overwhelmingly better than cough medications or no treatment.

The only drawback is you cannot give honey to babies under 12 months because of the rist of infant botulism (a rare form of food poisoning.)

Eucalyptus Oil:

While honey lines the throat, Eucalyptus helps loosen phlegm. Rubbed into the chest, it helps soothe a cough.

First, apply a carrier oil, like olive or coconut oil. Then rub in a few drops of Eucalyptus essential oil. [Amazon has a large selection of oils or purchase at your local health food sore] The carrier oil helps spread it evenly and keeps the essential oil from stinging.

The eucalyptus helps loosen phlegm, so it sometimes causing a bit more coughing for a few minutes. After helping to clear the chest, the cough calms down.

Precautions: Do not take orally unless expressly told to do so by your health care professional. Eucalyptus oil is toxic. Don’t put it your child’s nostrils or near the mouth. Do not use on children under two.


Cold viruses love dryness. Fight with humidity. Use a humidifier (just make sure you keep it clean!) If you don’t have a humidifier, stand in the bathroom while running a hot shower or boil water on the stove and let the steam escape into the room.

You can add a few drops of Eucalyptus oil for added benefit.

Of course, children shouldn’t get anywhere near the steam itself! Just let the steam fill the room.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or a nurse. The only hospital I have ever worked in is a doll hospital. There, a band-aid can fix a heart attack. Please do your own research and check with your health care professional before treating a child.

Articles and scientific studies, for nerds like me:

MayoClinic: Honey an Effective Cough Remedy

Honey for Childhood Coughs: results of Penn State research 

University of Maryland: Overview of Eucalyptus

MayoClinic: Cold Remedies: What Works, What Doesn’t & What Can’t Hurt

These home remedies have worked for us. What works for you?

Calcium (and Vitamin D) for Growing Pains

I remember the dull aching throbs of growing pains. Do you? Now, my daughter has had them too. For weeks this spring, she would wake up in the night crying and wanting her leg rubbed.

Then someone recommended that I increase her calcium intake.

Growing pains could be a signal that your child’s body needs more calcium. Makes sense, doesn’t it? Your bones are growing and require an extra dose of calcium. 99% of a child’s calcium is stored in the bones and teeth, where it helps them grow and keeps them strong.

What about Vitamin D? Vitamin D helps the body absorb the calcium. A study conducted of children with growing pains showed that only 6% had normal Vitamin D levels. Most were lacking Vitamin D.

Besides growing pains, other possible indications that your child needs calcium are night terrors and bed-wetting.

photo by Colin Brough

Food is the best medicine. I fully believe that. Nourishing broths, milk, yogurt and broccoli are good sources of calcium. The sun freely gives out Vitamin D. But sometimes growing bodies need supplements.

Adding a calcium supplement with Vitamin D works for my daughter. It’s not at overnight cure though. Calcium takes a little while for the body to assimilate (though the pharmacist said liquid supplements work fastest) but after a week or so, the growing pains stopped. If I stop giving her calcium supplements, the growing pains return.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or a nurse. The only hospital I have ever worked in is a doll hospital. There, a band-aid can fix a heart attack. You can get too much calcium. Please do your own research and check with your health care professional before treating a child.

Articles and scientific studies, for nerds like me:

Rise in Broken Bones in Children
Fact Sheet on Calcium
Vitamin D Levels in Children with Growing Pains

Goldenseal for Goopy Eyes

Each time a simple natural remedy works wonders for my child, I stand in awe again of the intricate wisdom and beauty of God’s Creation.

This time, a simple cold settled in Will’s eyes and refused to leave. His eyes oozed and crusted over. Thankfully, the eyes themselves never became red, but the goopiness would NOT go away. He looked pitiful.

Fighting pink eye or allergies? Goldenseal worked wonders for my kids' goopy eyes.

I couldn’t find a good image of goldenseal, but love all these other herbs too!

Disclaimer: 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. Please do you own research (here are a few of my favorite resources) and seek prompt professional medical assistance for serious conditions

Goldenseal for goopy eyes

After trying Erythromycin and eye drops and not seeing any difference, a good friend recommended Goldenseal.

Goldenseal worked. Less than 24 hours after the first dose of drops, his eyes were almost completely better!

To use goldenseal for goopy eyes, lightly steep a couple goldenseal teabags. Cool until they are comfortable to the touch. Then place on the eyes for at least five minutes. (You can also make a goldenseal “tea” by adding a few drops of goldenseal tincture into warm water and placing a few drops into each eye.)

Repeat the treatment every four to five hours until the eyes are completely clear. It’s as simple as that!

(Order goldenseal tea bags  or tincture through my Amazon link or find them at your favorite health food store.)

Apparently, pink eye responds amazing well to goldenseal as well and acts, according to the herbalist Paul Bergner, “as an ‘antibiotic’ to the mucous membranes, not by killing germs directly, but by increasing the flow of healthy mucous, which contains its own innate antibiotic factors.”


Photo by Amandaism