Mom's Guide to Herbal Home Remedies

Knowledge of herbal home remedies is an important tool for any mom to have in her tool belt. Since the dawn of intelligent humans, people have been using herbs to treat skin sores, rashes, burns, indigestion, and so much more. With the rise of western medicine, herbs were in large part forgotten in the western part of the world.

Eastern medicine still incorporates herbal home remedies into their healing routines, and many people in the far east, use herbs as a preventive measure incorporated into their everyday lives.

Here in the west, however, we are standing on a precipice, looking out at the dawn of an exciting new era of integrated wellness, where natural healing is merging with the western way. With each new year, you hear of more and more doctors opening their own integrated practices. All of these new terms are arising. You may have heard “Integrated medicine,” “functional medicine,” “Wellness Clinics,” and so forth.

In a world where social media and news stations are only a constant reminder of the ever-mounting death and evil on this earth, it so easy to miss the exciting new changes being born.

I am one of the lucky ones. As a child, I grew up in the woods of East Tennessee, and my mother had a wealth of knowledge about herbal home remedies. I went to the doctor for the first time when I was thirteen, because I’d broken my wrist. Short of broken bones, my mom had an herb for everything.

My mom was very close friends with a Nurse Practitioner, turned herbalist (whom we all fondly called Amma), and anything my mom didn’t immediately know, she’d just ask Amma. I watched them for years, and payed attention to everything they did. Many people made jokes about Amma’s herbs working like black magic. That always cracked me up because many, who were put to death for practicing witchcraft, were actually just herbalists living in an ignorant society.

Even though my husband is an MD, we generally treat most things at home with herbal home remedies. It’s nice having a doctor in the house, because I always know if it’s really necessary to go into a clinic for this or that. Truth be told, it’s rarely necessary.

Unless you have a very serious illness, or a broken bone, there is probably an herb for it.

Here on my website, I wanted to share some of my herbal home remedies with all of you, so that you too can treat the little things at home.

Mom's Essential Herbal Tool Belt:

Elderberry

Although I've divided these herbal home remedies into sections, I'm leaving elderberry in a section on it's own because it's a good remedy for all of these things. Elderberry is the most versatile herbal home remedy I have ever come across.

Internally elderberry really works like magic. Elderberry is most commonly used for the cold or flu, because of its ability to combat viruses. However, elderberry has also been credited with reducing the risk of heart disease, easing a variety of chronic pains, regulating bowl function, relieving chronic fatigue, reducing inflammation, and more.

You can give kids a spoonful of elderberry syrup to relieve an upset stomach, or to break up constipation. A spoonful of syrup can also drive away the symptoms of a sore throat. For internal use, you can also take a capsule of gummy. I've always preferred the syrup though.

Topically, elderberry works as a disinfectant as well as aiding in faster healing of this skin. It can help heal rashes, burns, cuts, scrapes and bug bites. Rubbing a bit of elderberry syrup on your gums can help it absorb quickly to reduce inflammation, and easing pain.

Herbal Home Remedies for Cold and Flu:

Interesting Note:

According to my husband, Dr. Daniel Whitelocke M.D., even though the common cold has been around for as long as humans, and possibly longer, there is no cure. The symptoms can be treated, but western medicine offers nothing to treat the source. Since it is viral, not bacterial, there is absolutely no benefit in taking antibiotics for a cold or flu. Many doctors give their patients with a cold or flu antibiotics for the placebo effect. The patient thinks that the antibiotics are effective, so it makes them feel a little better. This, however, is not entirely harmless. Antibiotics are responsible for saving a lot of lives by fighting bacterial infections, that humans were not previously able to combat. The more exposure a population gets to antibiotics however, the more likely bacteria are to evolve to be resistant to antibiotics. Antibiotic resistance is a real danger, because it helps to create a species of bacteria that can do more harm than humans are able to mitigate.

Echinacea:

Image By CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Echinacea was the original antibiotic. (Garlic too) Echinacea used to be quite popular, but unfortunately it fell by the wayside in the 50s and 60s with the rise of pharmaceuticals. Echinacea works by stimulating the body’s immune system and can also activate chemicals inside the body that reduce inflammation. Echinacea's antibiotic properties are effective on a number of infections, and because of it’s ability to activate the immune system, it is quite effective at fighting the cold and flu.

I've listed this under the cold and flu section, but if you have an infection, taking echinacea by mouth 3 - 4 times throughout the day can help significantly. 

Herbal Home Remedies for Tummy Aches

Catnip & Fennel (tummy aches)

Catnip Image By AlishaLH - Own work, CC BY 4.0, Link
Fennel

Catnip and fennel go together like peanut butter and jelly or pizza and cheese. Catnip has been used by herbalists since the beginning of herbal remedies to sooth menstrual cramps, relieve colic/upset stomach in babies, and help aid in digestion. Fennel came to prominence in ancient Rome, where they used to chew fennel seeds to relieve stomach pain or excessive flatulence. 

These age old remedies for colic in babies and for indigestion in adults, were brought together by herbalists and healers to release trapped gas, and ease intestinal blockage. This remedy is a saving grace when your baby or little have an upset stomach and can't get relief.

For littles, I prefer to use the tinctures because you can just give them a little squirt, instead of trying to get them to drink up the tea or chew on the leaves. 

Chamomile

Chamomile tea is very soothing to the stomach and relaxing to the nerves, and helps to ease tension. This works to help settle the stomach and relieve stomach pain. The soothing and relaxing properties, help relax muscle contractions, which can trapped gas worse.

Allowing those muscles to relax can help move gas along, and bring relief. If you use doTERRA oils, you can add a couple drops of chamomile to warm water. You can also buy a tincture, but I've always been an advocate for the good ol' fashioned chamomile tea. Chamomile can help produce better sleep as well, so every night before bed, I give my kids a little cup of chamomile tea with a dollop of honey. It makes the bedtime process easier, and helps induce sweet dreams.

Lemon Balm

Lemon balm is effective for a number of ailments because it reduces the growth of some viruses and also has a calming, sedative effect. Lemon balm is taken by mouth to help reduce stomach pain, bloating, indigestion, colic, and menstrual cramps.

Herbal Home Remedies for Sore Throat, Cough, and Congestion

Licorice Root

Image By Andrey Zharkikh from Salt Lake City, USA - 2016.07.09_11.20.33_IMG_7191, CC BY 2.0, Link

Licorice is a plant native to the Mediterranean regions, but several centuries ago (perhaps after Alexander the Great exposed so many cultures to each other during his campaign to create the word's first multinational, multicultural empire) some surrounding nations became aware of licorice's tremendous medicinal benefits, and began cultivating it all over the world. 

WebMD says that licorice can soothe a sore throat because it is believed to decrease swelling and coughing, while increasing the chemicals in the human body intended for healing ulcers.

Licorice should be taken by mouth, you can drink licorice root tea (if you can stand the taste. Some love it, and some hate it.), but I find it most palatable in a tincture. 

Mullein (cough/ congestion)

Image By BiHVolim - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Ironically, mullein is used to make pharmaceutical medicine, which is funny because in it's natural form it's an excellent, chemical free remedy for respiratory related ailments such as sore throat, cough or even pneumonia.(If your pneumonia is severe, you should see a doctor.) 

Tincture or tea is generally made from the leaves,stems, and flowers to treat sore throat or cough. However, some herbalists boil the root to be drank to treat croup. I'm a fan of the tincture, but I have never actually tried the boiled root myself, I've only read and heard about how well it works. That would actually make sense, because in my experience with herbs, the roots often contain a higher concentration of the medicinal effects.

Lemon, Ginger, and Honey

Lemon, ginger and honey are remedies for a sore throat that have been around for centuries, and we've probably all had a mom, grandma or auntie make this for us at some point or anther. These aren't just to make you feel comforted, though, this combination has special capabilities to wipe out a sore throat from the source.

Ginger is famous for it's ability to flush out toxins from your body, that's why it's such a common ingredient in detoxes. However, it also has anti-inflammatory properties, to reduce the swelling and relief the painful symptoms, and it helps increase blood circulation, giving your body a better chance to circulate antibodies to kill the bacteria.

Lemon can help break up mucus build up in your throat, which helps drive away the bacteria, allow for a faster healing process. Lemons also have a good amount of vitamin C, allowing them to build up the immune system. Citruses in general, contain a chemical compound called Limonene in their peel. Limonene is used by medical doctors to prevent cancer, treat cancer, and treat bronchitis. Limonene has been shown to kill infected cells, which is why it would be effective as a "detox."

Honey, is one of nature's greatest gifts.Honey is a natural antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant. Honey helps suppress the urge to cough, lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol, and it's less bad for diabetics than other sweeteners. Honey will be appearing again in the burns section and in the cuts and scrapes, because it also help promote healing of the skin in addition to disinfecting due to it's antibiotic properties. If you look at my skincare pages, you'll find honey in there as well, because it's an excellent acne fighter.

You can buy lemon and ginger tea, but it's much cheaper and more effective to just buy ginger, lemon, and honey and put them in hot water. I slice a few thin pieces of ginger, add a slice of lemon (I use the slice instead of the juice to get the Limonene from the peel), and add a teaspoon of honey, pour hot water over the cup, let steep for 5 minutes and drink. I do this 4 -5 times a day as soon as the symptoms present, and they're usually gone within 2 days.

Herbal Home Remedies for Bug Bites, Bee Stings, Cuts and Scrapes

Golden Salve

Golden Salve is one of my favorite herbal home remedies to keep on hand. It's a blend made by Nature Sunshine that contains olive oil, beeswax, and a combination of soothing herbs. This helps keep the skin moisturized, while soothing the affected area. 

Golden salves aids in the healing of the skin, so it's a good all purpose for skin problems, for everything from bites and stings to cuts a scrapes. It's also effective for burns, dry skin, diaper rash, and chapped lips. This will be appearing again in the burns and rashes section.

Black Ointment:

Black ointment is the slave that sealed my love for herbs when I was a child. I got bit by a brown recluse spider and my mom put black ointment on it a couple times a day, until it healed up completely with no mark.

I put black ointment on bee strings and bug bites of every kind, and it draws the venom out. Black ointment it a combination of a few different drawing herbs, and among it's ingredients is charcoal, which has recently become renowned for it's ability to draw toxins out of the body.

We always used Nature Sunshine's black ointment, but since they've discontinued making it, I've switched to Dr. Christopher's, linked above. Black ointment is an absolute must have in your arsenal of herbal home remedies.

Rescue Remedy

Rescue remedy is an all-purpose topical treatment for anything going on with skin. This includes bug bites, bee stings, rash, scrape, cuts, burns, and really anything else. Rescue is a blend of flower essences that soothes the skin, easing the pain, and allowing the healing to set in a little quicker.

Rescue can also be used in combination with other things. If you want to make a poultice for a rash or a burn, rescue is a really good one to mix in to ease the pain. I use rescue by itself for scrapes and small cuts, but for bug bites I mix it with black ointment for optimal healing.

Herbal Home Remedies for Burn and Rashes

Calendula

Image By Thomas888b - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

If you're a gardener, Calendula is a great additive to your garden. Not only are it's big yellow flowers beautiful, but they contain incredible healing properties. Calendula soothes the skin, and heals rashes better than most other herbs. I always get a diaper rash cream that has calendula in it. 

Calendula is also really good for your skin, so sometimes I make bath time more exciting by dropping a few ripped up petals into the bathwater, so the warm water help extract it's healing properties and give you or your babies soft and supple skin. I've noticed that if I add calendula to my daughter's bath when she has a scrape or abrasion, it goes away much faster.

You can also grind the flowers into a fine powder and add it to poultices for burns. I've also found this to be a good remedy for poison ivy. I've added links to a Calendula slave that I love, as well as the organic dried flowers I keep on hand.

Comfrey

Image By Dinesh Valke from Thane, India - Common Comfrey, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

Comfrey powder comes from the root of the comfrey plant, making it extremely potent. Once you've see comfrey at work, you can understand why lesser minds would have accused healers of witch craft. Comfrey heals the tops skin so quickly and so well, it's ideal for a burn or wound that you're trying to close quickly. 

Comfrey works when applied topically, so it's best mixed in a poultice, applied to the wound or burn and change a few times daily. Since comfrey heals so quickly, it's important to disinfect the affected area before applying the comfrey mixture, or you might seal impurities under the skin.

Plantain 

Image By MaziIwu - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Plantain powder comes from the plantain leaves. Once dried and ground, the powder is really effective at healing skin. It soothes and repairs burned skin. In combination with comfrey power, it can be made into a poultice that with heal the skin without any evidence that the burn was ever there.

Plantain can also be used to a poultice for a rash. I'd recommend mixing it with the ground flowers of calendula and making it spreadable by adding rescue cream. This combination makes a really nice all purpose, quick healing rash cream. (Not for a diaper rash, as the ground powders might feel uncomfortable in the diaper region)

Aloevera

Of course we all know that aloe is incredible for soothing a burn. However, it has some anti-inflammatory and healing properties that are often overlooked. Aloe doesn't just make the skin feel better, it actually promotes collagen (skin, hair and nail are all made of collagen) regrowth. This amazing plant helps to relieve the pain of the burn while it regrows your skin, feeding it with it's wealth of nutrients.

Easy Burn Poultice: 2 T Aloe vera, 1 T comfrey root powder, 1 T plantain powder, 1 tsp (3 capsules) vitamin e oil, 5 drop of lavender essential oil.

Apply generously to the burn, cover with a gauze pad. Change 3 times daily until completely healed.


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